Twilight Cellars will celebrate a landmark in its history Saturday at La Bellasera Hotel & Suites in Paso Robles.
Richard and Aurora Gumerman have owned the remote winery for six years. But it was 50 years ago, they say, that winemaking pioneer Stanley Hoffman purchased the property to plant vineyards, eventually gaining international attention for commercial winemaking in the region.
“It was pretty much left to rot before we got here,” Richard Gumerman said. “Every year, we use what little money is left and fix something else on the aging ranch.”
With 1,200 acres, Hoffman planted some of the area’s first cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and chardonnay grapes in the 1960s with the help of U.C. Davis enologist André Tchelistcheff, according to Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.
Hoffman Mountain Ranch began producing wines in the early 1970s. A cardiologist by trade, Hoffman’s 1976 pinot noir scored high in a French wine competition a few years later.
“This wine put Paso on the map,” Hoffman told Wine Spectator magazine in a 2004 interview, as he opened one of his two remaining bottles of that pinot. “We entered it in a blind tasting in Europe in the late ’70s and it beat Romanée-Conti. People from all over the world started coming to see us.”
Hoffman, now in his 90s, still lives locally, Gumerman said. But he shies away from the spotlight and declined an invitation to Twilight’s dinner.
Attempts to contact Hoffman were unsuccessful.
By 1981, he had taken on investors who forced him out of the business, Hoffman told Wine Spectator. Soon after, the winery closed and the property was divided and sold.
“We just got in bed with the wrong people,” he told the magazine. “It was not a friendly parting.”
With room for up to 70 acres of vineyards — only five are currently planted — Twilight Cellars has a small portion of Hoffman’s former land, including the redwood winery he built in the 1970s.
It was meant to produce as many as 35,000 cases a year. Twilight releases about 2,000.
The Gumermans have found it cheaper to buy grapes than replant the vineyards.
Saturday’s celebration will include vertical tastings of past vintages that Twilight Cellars has inherited from Hoffman and other previous owners.
“We have about eight years of pinot noir and eight years of the cab,” Gumerman said. “Pinot isn’t a wine that is known for its long ageabillity. But, we opened a 1980 cab a few years ago that we found in the cellar under the house. We couldn’t believe it was so good.”
Bunch rot discussed
Worried about bunch rot? On Wednesday, the Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area will address the threat of moisture.
The educational seminar will run from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Silver Horse Vineyard and Winery’s event center, 2995 Pleasant Road in San Miguel. Nonmembers pay $20.
The meeting will also address winter pruning and other practical topics. Speakers include Eric Browning of Buttonwillow Warehouse Co., Dale Evenson of Farm Supply, Geoff Hale of Nutrient Technologies, Tom Johnson of Kamprath Seed Cover Crops, Monica Barricarte of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, organization president Richard Sauret, and Lowell Zelinski, owner of Precision Ag Consulting.
Register by calling 434-3331 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.