We had the good fortune of connecting with Deb Stilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Deb, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Honestly, there was not a fully developed thought process behind it, but rather a dream that we chose to follow. What started with a love of wine, and a yearning for a challenge of making our our own, turned it into Stilson Cellars.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Stilson Cellars is a winery started by myself, Deb Stilson, and my two sons, Tyler and Cole. This is a story of a mother who wanted her kids to be connected to her forever! My husband, Sean Stilson, died in April 2016 as a result of suicide.

In the summer of 2019 we were visiting my In-Laws in Cambria. On the way home from this visit, I had asked my youngest son Cole if he would want to change his major and go to Cal Poly. I was thinking that we could buy a piece of property in a place we had always wanted to return to, Paso Robles, and he could make me an endless supply of wine. We had talked and fantasied about it the whole way home, planning it all out in a real dream fashion. After getting home and back to our regular lives, nothing more was said for a month until Cole asked, “Were you serious?”

What was I to say? Of course I was serious! That is where it all began.

I would not say that it was easy to start our family business, however it has been very exciting. We knew nothing about being business owners or how to make and sell wine. I just knew that I loved wine. Luckily, every step that we needed to take, there was someone there to help us. Whether it was to give advice, share a contact, or diving in and helping us, the right people always appeared. I feel that the community of Paso Robles and the surrounding cities of Templeton, Atascadero and Cambria are filled with the absolute best people. As a whole the people are amazing, but to go even further, the wine industry here is like no other. There is not the traditional competition found in every other industry. They all truly want other wineries to succeed.

We have learned several lesson through the past two years and know that we will continue to learn as we grow.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Downtown Paso Robles is a must! The city has an area filled with great places to experience. As far as restaurants, I would take them to the Irish pub that has the best food and drinks in town called Pappy McGregor’s or to TASTE! Craft Eatery where you get to choose all items on your plate.

The scenery here is breathtaking, so just venturing out through the backroads and over to the coast would make for great day or more. A few miles north of Cambria is the Hearst Castle where we could take a tour or drive a couple more miles to see the elephant seals.

Obviously, I would take them out to my favorite wineries after they visited our tasting room in Downtown Paso. Le Vigne has amazing wines that they pair with cheeses, Sarzotti is located on a beautiful property and is run by an amazing Italian family, and then I would look up a winery that I have not yet tried. With a little over 250 wineries in the area, we could keep ourselves entertained for days.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We could write a book with all of the names of the people who have helped us along our journey. Without a doubt, our success began with our family and friends who have supported us with unconditional love and hope. We would love to recognize Jimmy Zanoli and the Bella Luna Winery Crew. Without them we would not have had such a great start! They have guided us from the beginning and to this day they continue to support us.

Website: www.stilsoncellars.com

Instagram: @stilsoncellars

Facebook: @stilsoncellars

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