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By November 7, 2016 0 Comments Read More →

Tolosa’s Renaissance Elevates Edna Valley Pinot Noir to Rival World’s Finest

“Discover Tolosa” Weekend Unveils Winery’s Multi-Million Dollar Transformation

tolosa-logoSAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (November 7, 2016) – Tolosa, a boutique winery in Edna Valley, unveiled its multi-million dollar renovation and celebrated the elevation of its brand during its “Discover Tolosa” weekend, which drew more than 400 guests to its estate Nov. 4-6, 2016. The festivities were highlighted by a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the release of Tolosa’s new, single vineyard wines and the unveiling of its new production facilities and hospitality spaces. With its overhaul and latest offerings, Tolosa, once again, positions itself as a pioneer in the Central Coast wine community and moves forward with a renewed commitment to spare no effort in handcrafting the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay possible.
Discover Tolosa marked the formal release of Tolosa’s new series of Single Vineyard wines, which guests in the tasting room began sampling from barrel and purchasing as futures this past spring.  As a dedicated craftsman of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, new Tolosa winemaker Jim Kress has pinpointed the best sites and fruit outside Edna Valley, in addition to that of Edna Ranch. This series of very small-lot, artisanal wines invites exploration of renowned appellations and acclaimed vineyards throughout California and confirms Edna Valley’s place in this distinguished company.

Tolosa debuted its flagship wine, Primera, a cellar selection of the best barrels of Pinot Noir from its estate vineyard, Edna Ranch, and made in very limited quantities. This is a rare lot that, through terroir driven expression, reaches a level of quality rivaling the very best Pinot Noirs of the world, including the great crus of Burgundy. Primera is crafted to be enjoyed today or laid down for years in anticipation of an experience born from a year-round commitment in the vineyard.

“Having graduated from Cal Poly, raised my family in San Luis Obispo, and started my wine career here, I have long known that Edna Valley is a special place for Pinot Noir,” said Tolosa vintner Robin Baggett.  “It is very exciting to be able to share with the world the results of combining Edna Valley’s extraordinary potential with an uncompromising commitment to making world class wines utilizing the best farming practices, facilities, equipment and winemakers. Try the wine, and you be the judge.”

Tolosa also celebrated its recommitment to philanthropy in the local community with the formation of the Tolosa Foundation, a nonprofit entity for charitable activities.  As a small demonstration of Tolosa’s support of the community, Discover Tolosa included the donation of 120 pounds of food prepared by vintner Robin Baggett to the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, which serves food to the homeless seven days a week. Tolosa also donated the top auction lot at San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association’s Harvest on the Coast live auction on Saturday, raising $10,000 for the Association.

California Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill, and City of San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx helped kick off the Discover Tolosa weekend with a ribbon cutting on Friday, followed by a toast by San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce CEO Ermina Karim.  Other events over the weekend included a Progressive Winemaker Dinner, the Harvest on the Coast Grand Tasting and Auction, Winner’s Circle Tasting with auction winners and local vintners hosted at Tolosa, Primera Tolosa club luncheon, and the Primera Release Party.

Discover Tolosa was more than a year in the making. August 2015 marked a turning point for Tolosa.  That was when Robin, one of the three original founders of Tolosa in 1998, took the reins, intrigued by the idea of creating Burgundian wines that express his passion for Edna Valley and its potential. Robin set about revolutionizing the way wine is made at Tolosa. He began by hiring Napa’s Jim Kress as winemaker and Jean Hoefliger of Napa as consulting winemaker, improving farming practices at Tolosa’s estate vineyard, Edna Ranch, sourcing grapes from other renowned vineyards around the state, creating new winemaking spaces at the winery dedicated to premium wine production, bringing in all new state-of-the-art equipment in the cellar, and introducing a new tier of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines that rival the best in the world.
Edna Ranch comprises 730 acres in Edna Valley, nearly a third of the planted acreage in the valley.  Yet Tolosa only uses the top 10% for its own wines.  In the past year, Tolosa has introduced remote sensing weather stations and aerial imaging using NDVI to pinpoint areas in the vineyard that need individual attention, whether related to nutrition, water, pests, or disease. These stations help create a more precise farming plan and ability to fine tune picking decisions resulting in a greater number of wine lots, which in turn allows more options for blending and thus for more nuanced and complex wines.
In addition, Jim improved pruning and training of the vines to allow for more uniform growth and ripening, moved to harvesting in small containers (lug boxes) to avoid crushing the grapes during harvest and transport and continued to harvest in the cool pre-dawn hours. A new roof over Tolosa’s crush pad now protects delicate fruit from the sun at the winery.

Tolosa’s cellar underwent a veritable metamorphosis.  After arriving in small bins, the hand-picked berries are sorted to precision using the new Pellenc Selectiv’ Process Vision 2 optical sorter.  The Pellenc selects only the best fruit, which is then fermented in new rectangular, stainless tanks from LaGarde in Canada. Rectangular tanks provide more constant contact between the juice and skins, allowing for gentler hand punch downs. The tanks’ state-of-the-art temperature control system precisely controls temperature through the separate heating and cooling jackets on the tanks. The tanks are on stilts to allow for the fruit to be transferred directly and gently into the basket of new Bucher JLB basket press.

Tolosa also constructed a new temperature-controlled, barrel-fermentation room to better facilitate the fermentation process.  The room houses an array of French oak barrels from hand-selected, small-production coopers and forests.

The Edna Valley winery also introduced the remodeling of the member tasting room, adding sumptuous seating and elegant furnishings to complement the stunning vineyard views from the Heritage Room. New this year is a barrel tasting loft where guests can sample the new single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays directly from the barrel while overlooking both the tank room and the barrel room. Plans are in the works for a renovation of Tolosa’s lawn area, adding more seated tasting areas, as well plans for the addition of private tasting rooms with garden and vineyard views for an intimate wine experience to complement its modern tasting room and beautiful grounds.
Tolosa has long prided itself on its estate wines from Edna Valley, especially the reserve 1772 series.  These wines continue to be handcrafted from Tolosa’s own Edna Ranch vineyard and now bear an elegant new label.  The series is named for the year Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded; the label design was inspired by the tiles and ironwork found in the Mission.

Tolosa is located at 4910 Edna Road and open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For reservations, email concierge@tolosawinery.com or call 805-782-0500.

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Photos (left to right, from top left; photo credit for all: Duane Hall)
Tolosa Vintner Robin Baggett
Pellenc Selectiv’ Process Vision 2 optical sorter in action
Pinot Noir being transferred from La Garde tanks to basket of the Bucher JLB press
Tolosa’s new flagship Pinot Noir, Primera
Bucher JLB basket press
Ribbon Cutting at Tolosa
Tolosa Winemaker Jim Kress in the vineyards at Edna Ranch with Kona
Tolosa’s Harvest on the Coast Auction Lot garnered the top bid
Tolosa Vintner Robin Baggett prepares BBQ for Tolosa guests and 5 Cities Homeless Coalition

About Tolosa

At Tolosa, we are true believers in the special terroir that is Edna Valley, nestled amongst the northwest to southeast running volcanic hills of San Luis Obispo County and the frontier for the most complex cool-climate varietals in California. Our Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays reflect the cold Pacific wind that sweeps down the coast and funnels into the valley, as well as the remarkable diversity of soil types: ingredients for nuanced and balanced wines of distinctive character. We combine traditional methods such as hand punch down and whole berry uncrushed fermentations with state of the art equipment in the cellar and cutting edge technology in the vineyard to handcraft exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are the purest expressions of Edna Valley. To learn more, please visit www.tolosawinery.com

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