Tim Perr is the vision, the drive and the passion behind Pali Wine Co., a Pinot Noir specialist in California’s Central Coast region.
Not all Pali wines are made from Central Coast grapes, however. A Sonoma Coast-designated Pinot made by Pali recently garnered an impressive rating of 96 points from Wine Spectator magazine.
Perr’s infectious love of wine is what turned his friend and business partner Scott Knight on to wine in the late 1990s, and it’s what sparked the two entrepreneurs to create Pali Wine Co. as a winery focused on small-lot Pinot Noir production in 2005.
As founder and managing partner, Perr oversees winery operations at the Lompoc, Calif., facility and manages grower relationships.
Perr began his professional life as an insurance actuary and in 1994 co-founded Perr & Knight, an actuarial and insurance services firm. Having successfully developed Perr & Knight into a thriving company with more than 100 employees, the longing to build another successful business from the ground up drove Perr to seek out other opportunities for investment.
Perr, Knight and their spouses often traveled together to the Napa Valley and the Central Coast to keep their fingers on the pulse of hot new wineries, so it seemed natural that their next business venture would be in wine.
With Pali Wine Co., the vision was and is to create a wine brand recognized for excellence at every level of production.
“We were so excited to get it off the ground,” Pali recalls, “we decided that our best option was to put all of our resources into the winemaking and into purchasing the best grapes possible.”
Scott Knight provides much of the sales insight and vibrant energy behind the winery. He is the yang to Perr’s yin, and as a Southern California raconteur with a sunny personality, Knight perfectly complements Perr’s dynamic drive and analytic acumen. Knight is the quintessential people person and a natural fit for directing sales and distribution for Pali Wine Co.
“We are wine aficionados,” Knight says of the group of partners who founded Pali Wine Co. “Starting the winery was all about creating a business that aligned with our passions.”
Perr introduced Knight to the finer details of wine, though it didn’t catch on until 1999 when Perr brought two bottles of 1997 Opus One to the company Christmas party.
“He opened it, and wow, that was the epiphany that I needed to get into wine,” Knight says. Before long, he signed up on highly-allocated winery mailing lists, starting with Cabernet Sauvignon specialists and evolving to a love of Pinot Noir.
Knight attributes much of his sales expertise to the experience he gained working as a waiter and bartender while studying psychology at the University of California at Irvine. After college, he went on to work for Enterprise Rent A Car in its management-training program. After a few years of running his own Enterprise office, he went on to sell group health insurance for Pacific Mutual, managing telemarketing for three states.
In 1994, Knight met Perr through Perr’s wife, Judy, who had been a childhood friend of Knight and his family. Perr and Knight found they had many of the same interests, and began hanging out. As 1994 drew to a close, Perr decided to start his own actuarial consulting business and recruited Scott to lead sales.
And what about the “Pali” name they selected for their winery? It’s named after their hometown of Pacific Palisades, just west of Los Angeles.
Today, Pali Wine Co. produces a “Cuvee” series of wines defined by their appellation of origin and named for different neighborhoods in the Pacific Palisades. It also produces a very limited amount of vineyard-designated wines.
“Our goal is to make wines that speak well of their origin and their varietal,” Perr says. “While Pinot Noir remains our first love and a significant part of our production, we also produce a few other varietals when we have the opportunity to make a wine we think is worthy of sharing.”
Pali Wine Co.
1036 W. Aviation Dr., Lompoc, CA
Open Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.