Far away from the cool breezes off the coast of Maine, in the dry heat of the Dunnigan Hills, is an oasis flourishing with acres of rolling hills lush with green vineyards, sage green olive trees alive with the sounds of birds, and fresh, succulent lobster.
On June 25, just in time for America’s Independence Day, Matchbook Wine Company welcomed back Cousins’ Maine Lobster. This particular event was especially significant because not only did Matchbook Wine Company and Cousins Maine Lobster celebrate their one-year anniversary, but Cousins’ Co-founder Jim Tselikis made a special trip to Matchbook Wine Company to celebrate.
His first time to Matchbook, Jim marveled at the scenery and compared it to his home town of Los Angeles. “It’s beautiful to be here because it’s a totally different type of scenery and environment. It’s very relaxing and peaceful and unlike L.A. where we don’t have this type of view and ambience.”
“Our trucks in L.A. are in parking lots; it’s more of a concrete jungle while this is scenic similar to being on the ocean,” Tselikis mused. “Looking out at the vines is like looking out at the ocean.”
While Jim admired the view, so did visitors and wine lovers alike, lounging on the 400-square-foot patio overlooking Matchbook’s estate vineyards, sipping Arsonist Chardonnay and munching on lobster tacos, lobster rolls, and lobster quesadillas.
Bob Scarlett, a regular to Matchbook who visits about every two months, praised the Tinto Rey Verdejo in conjunction with the lobster tacos. “I love the Verdejo, especially in the summertime,” he said. “It’s fruity but not overly so and has nice acid. I think it’s just a great summer wine.”
While Cousins’ Maine Lobster might be known for its delicious and innovative ways of preparing lobster, its congeniality does not go unnoticed and complements the friendliness and laid back atmosphere for which Matchbook is known.
“The views of the vineyards and the coast hills are amazing,” Scarlett reflected. “The lobster truck does an amazing job on its preparation of the lobster and shrimp. Not only that, they are all very nice people.”
Sitting nearby to Scarlett was Kacey Donovon, another Cousins’ Maine Lobster lover and Matchbook devotee, enjoying a bottle of the Matchbook Rose of Tempranillo. “I have been here about four times and every time I come I meet amazing people.”
Also in attendance was Matchbook’s Wine Club Member No. 2, Fred Jones. On the first day the wine club started, at 20 minutes after 10 am, Jones received an email announcing the formation of the wine club and signed up immediately.
“We like the variety Matchbook offers,” Jones noted. “We lean more toward the reds but they have excellent whites, especially for summertime. The Chasing Venus Sauvignon Blanc is really good, as well as the Rose of Tempranillo, not sweet at all.”
Karen and Mark Dutra, friends of Jones and whose daughter joined the wine club after trying The Arsonist Red Blend, appreciates the tranquility and friendly atmosphere. “I like that it’s hidden away and children friendly, as we have three grandkids; it’s off the beaten track and it’s not snooty,” she observed. “We come up here for the atmosphere and for its quaintness.”
While events at Matchbook Wine Company and its tasting room may seem to have it all – beautiful grounds, friendly people, an accepting atmosphere – its events are inspired and made possible by passionate business owners and entrepreneurs like Vickie and Paul Sharkey, who own and operate Cousins’ Maine Lobster Sacramento.
“We always like to support franchisees,” said Tselikis. “Especially Paul and Vickie because it’s amazing how they run their business.”
Like Matchbook Wine Company, Paul and Vickie strive to offer the best quality products, the best lobster, the best produce, in a way that meets clients’ demands. “You can dress lobster up and dress it down,” Tselikis said. “It’s a delicacy that obviously fits the wine culture and a lot of people here in this environment; it just adds to the overall experience.”
But producing and serving the highest quality, most delicious lobster is just one aspect of their business. “The passion and knowledge of the business to the point where Jim is hands-on with most things, that I think was important to see, how he runs his business and how we want to run our business,” said Paul.
Passion is crucial, whether you are serving wine or serving lobster. And that passion is what has brought Matchbook Wine Company and Cousins’ Maine Lobster together and stayed together for one year and many more to come.
“It’s been really nice to watch the evolution of the Matchbook tasting room,” Tselikis reflected. “This has all happened in a year; it’s exciting to see what is to come.”