Erin, Owner, la Catalista Wine Bar & Kitchen
Poble Sec, Barcelona
Austin, Texas, USA
Company and Role:
Owner, La Catalista Wine Bar & Kitchen
Wine and hospitality
Tell us about your business, and what makes it special to you?
At La Catalista, we celebrate local Catalan wines, paired with delicious food, in a relaxed and beautiful setting.
Many of my favorite memories have been made over a bottle of wine: dinner parties or nights around the campfire or conversations with friends. There’s a connection that wine creates, which is what drew me to this work. Our wines have been hand-selected from small, family-run wineries, true artisans and entrepreneurs, each with their own story to tell. I think our guests fall in love with that local connection.
Tell us about the defining moment that propelled you to start your business, or follow your dreams. We love a good story!
I've had the dream of opening a wine bar for about a decade, but my life was pretty far down a completely different path. How does one go from being an executive at a tech company to managing a tiny little wine bar? I dreamed about it but had no idea how to make it happen. So I ignored the dream and continued down a path that was making me increasingly unhappy.
Well, "luckily," the universe decided to intervene when it surprised me with breast cancer 5 years ago, when I was 32. That year away from my business and my "normal life" - while I was going through all of my treatments - helped me find the clarity and the strength I'd need to make the change.
It took another 3 years to actually open (moving countries, learning a new language, navigating a new culture, studying wine), with more twists and turns than I ever could have imagined, but I'm proud I made it through.
What problem is your business solving? Why is this personal to you?
In many corners, wine is seen as this intimidating thing. People may like wine, but feel like they “should” know more, there’s almost some embarrassment or shame when it comes to ordering. Why is that? People don’t feel that way when it comes to beer or chocolate or coffee. We want wine to be accessible and enjoyed by all. If you want to geek out on wine knowledge with us, we’re totally here for that! If you just want to find a glass you’ll love, we’re totally here for that too.
I also believe that wine is an amazing way to understand and connect to a region. When we have visitors from abroad, we create that experience for them, where they can feel they know Catalunya better by learning about its wines.
Tell us how you stay inspired as an entrepreneur.
I feel most inspired when either
1) I am meeting a small, family-run winery for the first time and I inevitably fall in love with their story. I see the heart they put into their work, and the risks they’ve taken to build their business, and I just have so much respect for them that it motivates me to continue celebrating them.
2) There are certain customers where we happen to click, and wind up having these lovely, deep conversations about life that I never would have expected to have. Those moments of synchronicity help me feel like I’m on the right path.
Tell us about a woman who inspired you.
Brene Brown, the social researcher and public figure, has been speaking to me alot these last few years. She writes about how the only great things in this world are the outcomes of people willing to "step into the arena" - willing to be vulnerable, put themselves out there, risk it all, suffer defeat, and yet still find the strength to rise and try again.
Do you feel you've mastered work/life balance? What could be improved or what would you like to work on?
I’ve stopped fretting about it, so I suppose that means I’ve found some balance. I’ve learned that regular exercise, writing, and meditation are super important for me to stay grounded, so I make the time for that. I am also working on getting a bit more independence from the bar, such that I can enjoy nights out with my husband or friends.
How do you release and unwind?
Is it too obvious if I say wine? I also really enjoy running, hiking, and painting. Before opening the bar, I used to love traveling as a way to relax and gain perspective. I aspire to get my business to a place where I have that freedom again.
What's the next big step for your business?
Covid-19 has been a huge blow for us, obviously, especially for a business still in its infancy, so right now I’m trying to find some stability and am starting to rebuild. I aspire to create wine content and share it online, with the goal of helping those abroad fall in love with Catalan wines in the way I have, but have not yet invested the work to make that dream a reality. So we will see.
Is there a quote/mantra that guides you?
“Do the work in front of your hands.”
For me that means to not get lost in the world of ideas (something very tempting for me to do!) but instead focus on the actions right now in this moment that matter. It’s the only way to make the future you dream of inevitable.
business: @lacatalista / wine: @erinsips