Monday, February 20, 2017



Edna Valley is nestled amongst the northwest-southeast running volcanic hills of San Luis Obispo County and is the frontier for the most complex cool-climate varietals in California, especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The transverse valley is an extension of the sea, with a funnel leading past Morro Bay, 3,600 feet below the Pacific. The cold Pacific wind sweeps down the coast and into the valley and vineyards, creating a microclimate reminiscent of that of Burgundy. Oscillations in warm and cold mimic that region’s daily rhythms, only further improving from the Pismo Venturi effect that clears the evening fog. Edna Valley, the coolest appellation in California, has all the benefits of Burgundy without the threat of snow, rain, and hail.

In Edna Valley, much as the soil and the climate come together, the paths of three men have converged. With a shared zeal to build complex, nuanced and balanced wines, they play off each other’s strengths; winemaker Jim Kress and consulting winemaker Jean Hoefliger’s excitement for the potential of the Tolosa vineyards has only increased vintner Robin Baggett’s appreciation of his home of so many decades. True believers in terroir and the deepest evocation of place, together their mission is to discover the valley’s best pockets of soil, and through the art of uniting the right sites, clones, rootstocks and farming practices, create exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are the purest expressions of Edna Valley.

There’s a revolution stirring in California winemaking. A move to overthrow the technical and tactical approach in favor of a more artisanal expression that allows the true nature of place to shine through. Robin has entrusted winemaker Jim Kress with the expression of Edna Valley through the wines of Tolosa.

Motivated by an early desire to put his stamp on a wine from start to finish, Jim found himself immersed in the sciences of agriculture and chemistry that allowed him to fulfill his creative instincts through crafting wines of balance, depth and complexity. His fascination with differing soil compositions and the impact of local climates has led him on a pursuit to understand how these factors influence the resulting wines. After an undergraduate degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, his passion for food and wine eventually led him to the UC Davis Masters of Science program in Enology and Viticulture. During his subsequent tenure at Domaine Chandon, his interest in Pinot Noir was kindled. Jim is enticed by the intricate dance required of the craft of Pinot Noir—the challenges in the vineyard and cellar of this fickle grape and the exquisite rewards it offers—as well as its versatility in pairing with food and complementing a variety of culinary trends.

Now, after 20 vintages spent honing his technical mastery with wines from some of California’s most prestigious appellations, including Napa Valley, Los Carneros, Russian River Valley and Santa Rita Hills, Jim is eager to explore Edna Valley and to dig through its unique soil compositions to create wines which express the singularity of this marvelous terroir.

Tolosa partner and consulting winemaker Jean Hoefliger has been on his own journey to uncover the secrets of terroir in disparate parts of the globe.   Jean’s mix of scientific training, passion, and obsession with craft has made him one of the true voices of the New California wine revolution.

Jean was born and raised in Switzerland, and after receiving his degree from the Swiss federal school of Changins, he worked in Switzerland, Bordeaux, and South Africa at the estates of Chateau Lynch-Bages, Chateau Carbonnieux and Meerlust. He then moved to California, spending five years as the winemaker at Newton Vineyard before joining Alpha Omega. As the winemaker at Alpha Omega, he is creating wines that are a remarkable mix of Old and New World and recognized as some of the finest representations of the terroir that is Napa Valley. He also is continuing to pursue the artistry of world-class Pinot Noir that distinguished his tenure at Newton, Hartford Family Winery and Armanino Family Cellars, and during his early studies at the Fonjallaz family’s Swiss vineyards.



After an illustrious NFL career that included an appearance in Super Bowl XIV in Pasadena, California, he opened Touchdown Real Estate in Anaheim Hills, CA as the owner/broker, but Vince needed a new challenge. Coming from Italian heritage, he had a natural love for food and wine. He began to study wine, and an idea was born.

His home in Orange Park Acres, California was the perfect canvas for his new project. The climate and soil in Orange was conducive for growing wine grapes, and Vince decided to convert the horse corral to a vineyard. So, in 2010, he researched the process and made the decision that Sangiovese and Cabernet grapes were the right choice for the wine he wanted to make. He planted the vines and waited for them to bear fruit. The first vintage of Caressa J, named for his daughters was a quality product and he knew it would only improve as the vines aged. A man passionate about football now had a new love. He spends countless hours working in the vineyard and his personal attention has paid off.

The 2012 and 2013 vintages both received gold medals at the LA International Wine Competiton. Dinner parties at Casa Ferragamo always include a tasting of the Caressa J and it has become a hands down favorite with family and friends. Vince is very active in the community and has donated his wine to several charity events, including Vendemmia de San Antonio, The Ronald McDonald House and many others. The chairman and founder of the Vince Ferragamo Foundation, Vince is dedicated to helping those that are in need, especially those involving children. A dedicated family man, the newest member of the Ferragamo clan, grandson Javi Cenzo is already joining Nonno in the vineyard. His passion for family now extends to a passion for wine.

"Caressa J" is named after my 3 daughters, Venessa, Cara, and Jenna. Our climate with its warm days and cool nights, is perfect for the grapes. During harvest, we focus on phenolic ripening and longer hang times, giving rise to a rich and elegant wine with refined and polished tannins.

The Sangiovese grapes offer intense floral and spice aromas while the Cabernet grapes balance the wine with dense layers of fruit. On the palate, it is weighty, dense and vibrant with complex structure thanks to the support of the acidity. With passionate preparation, this wine has developed into a robust medium bodied wine. Enjoy as we do with veal pasta and spaghetti and meatballs. Salute!!

Mick Drago and Jeff Lazenby have produced the wine from Vince
Ferragamo's vineyard since 2010. Mick founded Belle Marie Winery in 2000,
and Jeff is General Manager and Assistant Winemaker.

Mick Dragoo - Mick Dragoo's appreciation for winemaking began during the Vietnam War, when he served in the Army as a maxillofacial surgeon treating trauma patients arriving home from the war in Northern California. On his off-time, he would visit Napa Valely wineries to unwind, and was impressed to discover some parallels between the art and science of winemaking and surgical reconstruction. After retiring from a successful peridontal practice in Reno, Navada, Dragoo returned to Napa Valley to begin his next career, as a professional windemaker. Twenty years later, Mick and Mary Dragoo relocated to Southern California and opened Belle Marie Winery, a micro-boutique winery in Escondido, California that produces thirty or more wines every year in a wide variety of styles, but with a particular speciality in full-bodied, blended red wines. With an inventory of up to 78 different grape varietals available each year, Dragoo travels up and down California to the best growing regionsand vineyards in the state from which hravest his grapes. In his spare time, Dragoo continues to develop and teach state-of-the-art surgical practices to surgeons worldwide.

Jeff Lazenby - Jezz Lazenby's passion for winemaking began during his college years at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the mid-1980's. With convenient proximity to the Central Coast wine country, he made frequent trips to area wineries, exploring the many varietals that thrive in the area and learning about how geographical and climatic influences shape varietal selection in the vineyard and the resulting styles of wine. Wine remained a hobby for years as Lazenby built a successful career as a health care executive while continuing to learn about wine in his down time. In 2000, he met Mick Dragoo, who had jsut started Belle Marie, and the passion for winemaking began to blossom more quickly. Soon he was spending his weekends and holidays volunteering at the winery, studying Dragoo's style and philosophy of winemaking, and learning about all aspect of running a small, boutique windery operation. By 2006, the Dragoo's convinced Lazenby to retire and join the family business full-time.


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