And company chairman/CEO and founder Gary Parker, an SDSU architecture student who started the endeavor as a wine storage facility in 1985, likes it and intends to keep it that way.
“I'm an elderly statesman, that's enough for me,” quipped Parker, who added, when he started out, “There were no private wine cellars at that time, nobody was storing wines for commercial use. So we started renting out wine lockers, and when they got full, we looked for and found this place (9550 Waples St., Suite 115).”
Parker converted much of his new building space into wine lockers for his customers expanding, from 33 to 175, the number of individual lockers available. He now warehouses wine lockers on three floors of the building.
“I designed this storage,” noted Parker adding, wine, of course, is the central focus of most everything WineSellar does.
Parker added he became both a wine connoisseur and an epicurean early-on.
“I had started a restaurant (926 in Pacific Beach) in 1975 and I fell in love with wine and the restaurant business,” he said. “When we got into this building, we put in a kitchen and started having winemaker dinners. We had a great chef. The place got really popular, and then we opened up for lunch.”
The Brasserie, a French restaurant with a relaxed setting, which Parker and wife Lori opened in 1988, is white tablecloth and top drawer. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves a seasonal, contemporary French menu complemented by an award-winning wine list and handmade cocktails.
Then there's the Wine Shop downstairs, as well as the WineSellar Wine Club.
“We have three subscriber wine-of-the-month clubs, including the casual side wine bar lounge downstairs from the Brasserie,” Parker said, noting he caters to a broad cross-section of wine aficionados.
“We have everyone from beginners who store a couple cases with us, to collectors,” he said. “We have a guy who has a thousand cases of wine (stored) with us. He's got a lot on our third floor.”
These days, the Parkers are getting more involved with their wine tours, which were started in 2001 and run by wife Lori Parker.
“We go around the world,” said Parker of his tours. “I just got back from one in Portugal.”
WineSellar tour groups are small, around a dozen people, and the wine tour trips are about two weeks in duration.
“We've been to Spain, Italy, France, South America and South Africa,” Parker said, adding he keeps the tour groups small because, “We have intimate dinners at wineries, and that number of people is enough for one table.
The WineSellar Brasserie is open every day except Sunday. Lunch in the Brasserie is served Tuesday through Friday. Dinners there are served Tuesdays through Saturdays.