Tolosa Winery in San Luis Obispo

Uncategorized | | July 29, 2009 at 13:09

turningcolorI remember one of their very first wine dinners, years ago, a small party of 20 people seated al fresco under the grape arbors on the grounds of the the old Mission in downtown San Luis Obispo CA.  The founders were there with their new release and talked about the long journey to that tasting, including divining the right name – Tolosa.  Naturally, the Mission of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was the perfect launch site.

How far they have come in these 15 years or so with their hectare upon hectare of vinyards spreading along the old Highway from the airport down the valley in the direction of Arroyo Grande.  Tolosa is a cooperative effort with several local owners with other lives like prominent attorneys and civic leaders – people fulfilling their passion and dreams in a truly magical California way.tolosaentrance


On a Saturday morning a small green and red trolley carries an elite group from vinyard to vinyard, with tasting stops along the way among the palatial homes, rolling hills and endless lines of grapes stretching into the azure blue horizon.  There’s not a wind, the day is a perfect 85 degrees and all is well in this peaceful and unspoiled Eden for worshipers of the fermented grape in all its colors, textures and variations. Not overly commercial and over-run like Napa, the area around SLO (San Luis Obispo) retains an authentic, homey flavor typical of everything in this county.

hopesforaharvestOur tour guide is a Cal Poly grad, well-versed in all the scientific know-how that goes into growing the consistent quality of the California vintage, fielding questions with ease and enthusiasm.  Although her job is to grow the grapes – others produce the actual wine – there doesn’t seem to be much she doesn’t know.  From meticulous measuring of the drip drip of the irrigation to the careful pruning of the sunny side of the arbor, allowing the grapes to mature in favorable sunshine on the one side and shaded from the harsh rays on the other, every baby step is based on scientific research and the latest in enological technology.Sunnyside of arbor


The competition to be the most environmentally aware in California is keen.  The Central Coast has developed a voluntary SIP certification (Sustainability in Practice) with a lengthy process of constant improvements in growing techniques to result in a grape cultivation and wine production with the least possible impact on the environment.

A box lunch was served under the shade of a sprawling California oak, accompanied by more of the wine just tasted in the fields.lunchunderthetrees


The Tasting House, designed by Cal Poly architecture students to utilize the working materials of the winery – wood, cork, metal, glass – has a stunning modern effect – a little cold perhaps – reminiscent in style of the new M Casino in Las Vegas.

Wood and Glass Door

Wood and Glass Door

View from Private Tasting Room

View from Private Tasting Room

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