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. Vintner Robin Baggett has entrusted winemaker Frederic Delivert with the expression of Edna Valley through the wines of Tolosa.
Maybe it was destiny. Tolosa is named after the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the mission dedicated to Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse. Frederic hails from Toulouse, France, and received his master’s degree in agricultural sciences in 1995 from the Ecole Supérieure d’agriculture de Purpan (ESAP) in Toulouse. He discovered California while getting his degree, during an internship in Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. He came back for another harvest at Newton Vineyard in Napa Valley in 1997 and stayed in California. His career path has allowed him to make wines for distinguished wineries in many of the subappellations of Napa Valley, including Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Howell Mountain, and Mt. Veeder, as well as in the Sonoma Coast and Red Hills Lake County AVAs. 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.
Frederic began collaborating with Robin Baggett on wine projects in 2009. He was introduced to Tolosa and Edna Valley just in time for the 2017 harvest. He immediately perceived that the combination of Pacific influences and unique soil compositions of Edna Valley provide an incredible palette for very special wines. Fred is continually exploring Tolosa’s estate vineyard, Edna Ranch, and discovering more facets of its exceptional character. He is passionate about crafting balanced, complex, and nuanced Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays which express the singularity of this marvelous terroir.
NURTURING THE WINE
At Tolosa, we believe the role of the winemaker is to reveal the character of the wine. It starts in the vineyards, of course. There, we use cutting-edge technology, such as infrared vigour mapping and detailed soil exploration, to better understand the vineyard and even the individual vines. This allows our vineyard team to pinpoint the attention needed throughout the growing cycle. At harvest, much of the fruit is picked by hand in the cool, dark hours of the morning and transported to the winery in small bins to avoid undue pressure on the grapes.
At the winery, the grapes are sorted for color, size and ripeness using a state-of-the-art optical sorting machine to ensure only the best fruit makes it into our most-prized wines. Stainless steel rectangular-shaped tanks create a thinner cap of grape skins, allowing more of the juice to have contact with the pumace for flavor extraction and gentler fermentation. Pinot Noir grapes are pressed in a small-lot basket press for the gentlest pressing process. Our separate warm barrel fermentation room allows for fine-tuned guidance of the fermentation process. Our winemakers select barrel by barrel in the blending process to compose wines that are nuanced, complex and balanced.
The attention to detail means more work and lower yields but the character of place shines through.