Doug Beckett and Pat Wheeler in the Tasting Room at Cayucos in the basement of the Way Station.

Doug Beckett and Pat Wheeler in the Tasting Room at Cayucos in the basement of the Way Station.

Jake, Josh, and Doug Beckett

Jake, Josh, and Doug Beckett.

When Doug Beckett suggested to his partner Pat Wheeler that they open a tasting room to market their Tobias Zinfandel directly to the public in the beach town of Cayucos on Ocean Avenue, Pat agreed. Cayucos is a quiet beach town of 3,000 residents on the Central Coast of California with wide beaches and pounding surf in Estero Bay. Cayucos had a rich history and many of its buildings were built in the 1860s and 1870s, including the famous Cayucos Pier built by Captain James Cass.

In 1876 Captain Cass sold the land to immigrants from Switzerland, the Pedraitas, who built the first hotel and dining room to provide lodging for the dairy farmers and pelt traders who shipped their products to Northern and Southern California. The most famous guests were the Hearst family who traveled from their San Francisco home to San Luis Obispo in their private railway car. The Hearsts were met by a horse-drawn surrey and driven to the Cottage Hotel for a three course meal before continuing the journey to their property on the “Enchanted Hill”, today the location of Hearst Castle.

The century old Cottage Hotel property was purchased from Mrs. Pedraita in 1974 by Hank and Maryellen Eiseman who restored the building and planted beautiful gardens.They renamed the property The Way Station and converted the hotel rooms to art studios and small shop spaces. The hotel dining room and parlour were remembered as the places where guests and local community members gathered for meals and spirits including wine. Hank Eiseman shared the following historical annotation about the first Zinfandel grower to frequent the historic property, world famous composer Ignace Paderewski. According to Hank, world-renowned pianist, Paderewski, Poland’s Prime Minister and foreign minister, signed the Treaty of Versailles (ending World War I). He played in the parlor of the Cottage Hotel and brought visiting artists like Madam Shumanheinke to perform. By 2017 the piano that Paderewski played in the parlour in the 1920s had been restored by Hank Eiseman’s daughter and can be found in her dance studio in the Salinas Dance School.

In 1985 Doug negotiated the rent for a small basement in the building now known as The Way Station. Doug carried two large wine barrels and a piece of wood down the stairs to set up his tasting room. He welcomed guests with glasses of Zinfandel on the weekends. His son Josh often accompanied him, helping his Dad in the tasting room but spending more time surfing just south of the Cayucos Pier. This tasting room was the first in Cayucos and also the first retail experience of selling wine directly to the public for Doug and the Tobias label.

Doug continued with more exciting marketing ideas a few years later; Imagine the journey from the Tobias tasting room in this small sleepy beach town to the moment when Doug presented Tobias Zinfandel in Hong Kong, and in China.