What's Cookin' on Wine with Michael Horn


February 20, 201752 min
JIM KRESS - WINEMAKER, TOLOSA WINERY  A PLACE OF EXTRAORDINARY POTENTIAL 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. ABOUT JIM KRESS THE ARTISAN 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


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