Kathy Strong • Special to La Quinta Sun • November 30th, 2011
Mott's career background was as an engineer in Silicon Valley doing lots of start-ups for small companies. But when he and wife, Joni, who runs a cancer research lab in Berkeley, weren't working, they were tasting wines.
“We've been passionate about wines for more than 20 years, spending a majority of our time visiting Napa, Sonoma and other wine-producing areas,” Mott said.
The couple have been coming to La Quinta for the last two decades as well and were loyal customers at the former wine bar in Old Town.
Mott took over that former space in August and launched into furnishing, licensing and building relationships with wine distributors before opening in October as The Wine Bar at Old Town.
“I really enjoy the customer-facing business,” Mott said. “I don't need to sell the wines, just introduce the wines to my customers. A great wine sells itself.”
Mott says his focus is on selling and serving wines people want.
“We have 300 different labels on the shelf,” Mott said. “Every single one has been hand-selected. For every one bottle here, we have tasted 30 that did not make it.”
Mott says the tasting process is a lot harder than it sounds.
“We have to look at both quality and a good price point. My reputation goes with every recommendation I make,” he said. “We try to be very aggressive on pricing — in most cases competitive or better in pricing than others.”
Mott carries boutique wines as well as more recognized labels, trying to get a good mix.
The Wine Bar is not just a retail wine shop but is also a comfortable, conversational spot with colorful art for sale on the walls, serving a light menu of wine-friendly offerings from meat and cheese plates to panini sandwiches, flat breads and soups and salads.
“We never charge a corkage fee if you want to select a bottle of wine from the shop,” Mott said.
Guests also can order from 40-plus wines by the glass. Several flights are offered so customers can try wines they have not thought about before.
The Wine Bar offers live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as afternoon wine tastings on Saturdays. The business opens early on Sunday mornings with mimosa offerings to coincide with the Certified Farmers' Market.
“Anyone who says they know everything about wine is not telling the truth,” Mott said. “Wines change every year. ... My favorite part of this business is finding that new special wine for someone. Typically, I can find something they will enjoy.”