Correction: A previous version of this story erred in stating who owns Tolosa Winery and Vineyards. Robin Baggett is majority owner and managing partner; he bought out the shares of Jim Efird, who retired. Bob Schiebelhut remains a co-owner and continues to head up production at the winery.
Tolosa Winery and Vineyards wants to prove that Edna Valley can produce world-class pinot noir. To make the point, the winery is debuting a new premium line of single-vineyard pinots from some of the varietal’s most heralded regions around the state, as well as Tolosa’s flagship Edna Ranch.
“We can tell you that our pinot is on par with the best in the state, or you can taste them side by side and decide what you think,” said Danielle Huber, the winery’s business development manag er.
The new wines are among the many changes underway at the winery since Robin Baggett — an attorney, founder of Alpha Omega Winery in Napa Valley and namesake of Cal Poly’s baseball stadium — became majority owner and managing partner last year. He bought out the shares of Jim Efird, who retired. Bob Schiebelhut remains a co-owner and continues to head up production at the winery.
Since then, he’s brought on a new winemaker — Jim Kress, who has worked at wineries in Napa Valley, Los Carneros, Russian River Valley and Santa Rita Hills — rolled out new labels, created a new website that is launching soon and embarked on a multimillion-dollar remodel of the winery and tasting spaces.
New top-of-the-line tanks, a new basket press and optical sorting capabilities have been installed at the winery, which produces about 17,000 cases annually. The wine club lounge will be updated with custom furniture, wood floors and a modern grey color scheme, with work starting in late September. A barrel loft for private tastings off the main tasting room should be complete by Thanksgiving.
Around the end of the year, work will begin on tripling the usable outdoor space, with new landscaping, fire pits and comfortable seating tucked among vines and olive trees for relaxed outdoor tastings.
“Robin wanted to re-energize the brand,” Huber said.
The new line of pinots — which the winery began selling for $85 to $100 per bottle as futures in March and will release Nov. 1 — join the winery’s less expensive national and wine club/tasting room tiers. The collector-aimed line, with its own new Primera wine club, spanning various vineyards, is similar to what Baggett does at Alpha Omega with cabernet sauvignon, Huber said.
“He wanted to do the same thing to showcase pinot here,” she said. “It’s not banging you over the head with the message — it’s discovery.”
Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sallybuffalo.
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