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Way out along Adelaida Road stands a little red farmhouse, home to Tolo Cellars. Josh Gibson, proprietor and winemaker, offers a sumptuous array of wines – Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and exotic Rhone blends – all sourced from vineyards tucked away in the rustic hills, where once frolicked the pioneers of the Adelaida township. This historically adventurous area, marked by rugged terrain, offers ideal hillside conditions for vines bearing hardy and distinctive wine grapes.
Josh’s goal in winemaking is to allow these vineyards, each with its own flora and fauna, to express themselves in glorious harmony. Thus, all his wines are fermented with native yeast, allowing the robust and wild flavors of the vines to exude in the wines. The results are libations of uncommon depth and mysterious character, much like the surrounding hillsides.
Josh opened his tasting room doors in December 2005, though he was well-versed in the Far Out lifestyle long before that. As assistant winemaker at Le Cuvier Winery for several years, Josh learned the tricks of crafting high quality wines in small lots. He continues that practice today, limiting production to just around 1,200 cases.
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture that is virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes are grown just about everywhere throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The defining geographical feature of the country is the Apennine Mountain range, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south. The island of Sicily nearly grazes the toe of Italy’s boot, while Sardinia lies to the country’s west. Climate varies significantly throughout the country, with temperature being somewhat more dependent on elevation than latitude, though it is safe to generalize that the south is warmer. Much of the highest quality viticulture takes place on gently rolling, picturesque hillsides.
Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but their use is declining in popularity, especially as younger growers begun to take interest in rediscovering forgotten local specialties. Sangiovese is the most widely planted variety in the country, reaching its greatest potential in parts of Tuscany. Nebbiolo is the prized grape of Piedmont in the northwest, producing singular, complex and age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola, and of course, Pinot Grigio.
Also known as Ugni blanc in France, Trebbiano claims a top slot in white grape vineyard acreage in Italy. The gold to amber colored variety is so productive, and so much planted in both France and Italy, the world’s two major wine-producing countries, that it may produce more wine than any other vine variety in the world. There are six distinct varieties with Trebbiano as part of their name in Italy alone and it is cited in over 80 DOC regulations—more than any other single variety.
Trebbiano Toscano, one of the most popular, is deliciously light and crisp. Trebbiano d’Abruzzo actually has some aging potential when handled carefully. Ugni blanc is responsible for the whites in the southwest of France called Gascogne blanc. Characterized by green melon, lemon grass and apple flavors and a long, tingling finish, these are fun and often value-priced so make great alternatives to Sauvignon blanc if you’re looking for something new to try.