Get the Dirt about Tolo Cellars from Winemaker Josh Gibson

11 Sep

tolosign1. What was your first vintage year? 2000

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? Currently we are making about 1,200 cases per year.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Yes, we have a tasting room, it is located about 12 miles west of Paso Robles on Adelaida Road. We are open 11am to 5pm Thursday through Monday and by appointment Tuesday and Wednesday.

4. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? I took a random weekend job working for Le Cuvier Winery in 2000. That was a great place to learn about wine and the wine business. John Much and Mary Fox of Le Cuvier are not only really good at what they do, they are both very gifted teachers. They were also very supportive when I realized I want to work towards opening my own winery.

5. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? Le Cuvier’s 1995 Cabernet Franc, I tasted at a little wine bar in Paso. Two days later I ran into John Munch while I was working at Bank of America, I pestered John with questions until he offered me a job.

tolograpes6. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why? I work with many different varietals grown in Paso Robles from the Rhone and Bordeaux varieties to some traditionally grown in Spain and Italy. Syrah is probably my favorite varietal to work with, but they all really have their own personalities. That is make this whole thing so fun.

7. What vineyards do you source from?  I work with about half a dozen vineyards that are in the hills west of Paso Robles, within a few miles of our tasting room.

8. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? I use all neutral oak barrels, with a mixture of origins, and we generally age our wines 3 to 5 years. I feel the vineyards I work with have enough character and personality to carry the wines and the neutral barrels allow that to shine.

9. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Paso Robles is very well suited for the vineyards but what makes Paso Robles special are the people. There are so many talented and creative winemakers here that are incredibly passionate about the wines they create.

tolobottles10. What’s the story behind your name/label? Tolo means mountain lion in the Chumash language. My father worked with the Chumash as an archeologist and I thought it would be a great way to honor our local history.

11. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? I wish someone would have told me that I should have gone off and made a billion dollars before I started.

12. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? What can you do as a small winemaker, that wouldn’t be possible for larger wineries? As a small winery we have a lot of flexibility to make interesting, unique and different wines. All of our wines are fermented entirely with native yeast, partially barrel fermented and allowed to age for a long time, generally 3 to 5 years. But being small, I can bottle a single barrel of something if I want, or do something fun like age a wine 9 years in barrel, or ferment a white wines on the skins like a red.

13. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? I think the future looks good. I was born and raised here in Paso, this is my home, and it is with a lot of pride that I say this area has so much potential, even now, we are still really being discovered, and really discovering how great Paso Robles can be. It’s really very exciting.

14. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? I think I would choose Northern Arizona. I think there is a lot of potential in that area, but it is really in its earliest stages. There are some talented people there, and some interesting wines being made. But the development and evolution of a wine region is an incredibly long, slow process. The people there now will have the opportunity to guide that area towards their future.

For more information about Tolo Cellars, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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