Winemaker Edgar Torres focuses on family and making great wines while realizing his American Dream
When visitors stop by the Bodega de Edgar tasting room, they step into a warm, welcoming, family environment. At the tasting bar, they are invited to sample hand-crafted wines produced by owner and winemaker Edgar Torres. The wines, as Torres likes to point out, are “one of nature’s gifts, bottled up to share.” Visitors also get a bit of an education – either from the winemaker himself or from Jaime, his brother and assistant winemaker-in training – as tales of those that grow the fruit, work the land, and stomp the grapes flow just as smoothly as the wines.
“Jamie is learning my trade – he’s done the punch downs for us, he’s danced on the grapes, and he’s learning what is required to make a really great bottle of wine,” Torres says. “He knows how to answer our guests’ questions because he’s done it all – it’s really an educational experience when you come into our tasting room.”
Torres opened his bodega, the Spanish term for wine cellar, in 2007 and it is where he produces and bottles his wines under his Bodega de Edgar label, or B de E. Torres caught the winemaking bug during his three years waiting tables at Villa Creek Restaurant and while working from 2002 to 2005 at the now-defunct Garretson Wine Company as a “cellar rat.”
“That was the gateway to the wine business for me,” he says. “I became friends with a lot of winemakers in Paso Robles and they are the ones that brought this infectious thing to me when I was a young, enthusiastic kid and they helped open doors for me.”
Torres made the jump over to Hug Cellars, located just next door and, from 2005 to 2009, worked as the assistant winemaker, helped in the tasting room and served as the wine club manager. In 2009, Torres left Hug to start focusing on his own brand. His venture took him next door again to where Barrel 27 was once located.
“The owners gave me room to grow and to develop my Bodega de Edgar label,” Torres says. He still works as the assistant winemaker with Barrel 27 and McPrice Myers at their new Adelaida Road location.
A pivotal moment
Near the end of harvest 2014, Augie Hug let Torres know that he was planning to retire. As he helped the Hugs facilitate their retirement, Torres kept thinking, “I couldn’t just let Hug Cellars go away.”
“The thought just didn’t sit well with me,” he says. “The Hugs have always referred to me as ‘Mijo’ which means ‘son’ in Spanish. So, I decided to maintain the tasting room, purchase their existing inventory, and they gave me the rights to use the Hug Cellars name for future production.”
Now, Torres says he is going through a pivotal moment in his career and in his life. Although the Hug Cellars tasting room will remain in its present location, Torres made the decision to open a separate tasting room to showcase his Bodega de Edgar wines. The space at the back of the Hug Cellars building will continue to act as the production facility for both wineries and he has brought on a few additional team members.
Located on the Villacana property off of Adelaida Road, the Bodega de Edgar tasting room opened May 1 in the space formerly occupied by Alta Colina.
A winemaker’s American Dream
Along with two of his siblings, Torres came to the United States at the age of 8 with his parents, Alfonso and Maria. Once settled, they had three more children. He grew up in Cambria, where he attended school and worked in restaurants, and is now naturalized and one year away from gaining U.S citizenship.
“Some of the chefs pushed me to go to Paso Robles and expand my knowledge,” Torres says. “I fell in love with the whole scene and everything from that point was just destiny; I feel very fortunate to have been guided by the best people.”
Torres continues to place his focus on sourcing high quality fruit, producing exceptional wine, and maintaining affordable price points.
“The driving force and philosophies of Hug Cellars and Bodega de Edgar are very similar – we love what Mother Nature gave us, we love the vineyard owners that we work with, and we love the workers that labor on a yearly basis for us and follow our strict farming techniques that we want to impose onto the vines,” Torres says. “All of this is a representation of the American Dream.”
Varietals and blends
In addition to offering his 100 percent Spanish-style varietals – albarino, tempranillo and garnacha – Torres has made a name for himself with his blends. Sourced mainly from grapes grown in the Paso Robles wine region, Torres also uses fruit from Monterey and Santa Barbara counties in his varietals and blends.
E2, Mis Pasos, and Toro de Paso are his Passionate Blends. “My E2 is a blend of grenache and syrah. My father likes to refer to my wife, Erika, and I as E-squared so that was an easy name choice for me.” Toro de Paso, the “Bull of Paso” is a blend of tempranillo, grenache, and merlot and its name signifies the Spanish symbol for wine and his father’s love for cattle. Mis Pasos, or “my steps,” is a syrah, merlot, and tempranillo blend that signifies his journey into winemaking and those that made his journey possible. “I designed the labels with family photos, so the wine and labels are a way for me to pay tribute to places or people that are meaningful to me.”
His two Fiesta Blends are offered at a lower price point. La Guera, is a blend of albario and roussanne while El Cabrhone is a cabernet, syrah, grenache, mourvedre blend.
Visit the Bodega de Edgar tasting room at 2825 Adelaida Road in Paso Robles Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. For more information, call (805) 423-3545 or go to bodegadeedgtar.com.
– Meagan Friberg