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In 1993, along with his wife Raquel, Augie Hug purchased a wine shop and tasting room in the artists’ hamlet of Harmony, in California’s central coast. It was called the “Central Coast Wine Room.” Together, they focused on small artisan producers and through the wine shop met and became friends with many of those winemakers. One winemaker, in particular, was John Alban of Alban Vineyards. One night at dinner, John graciously offered to assist Augie in making wine.
In 1994, Hug Cellars was launched with a mere 87 cases of Syrah made from grapes purchased from Alban Vineyards. John became a valuable mentor and Augie made his wines at Alban Vineyards for nine years. In 2003, Augie moved his winemaking to a shared facility with Mat Garretson of Garretson Wines in Paso Robles, California. In 2004, Augie leased a building next door to Garretson Wines to have his own winery.
The first Hug Cellars Pinot Noir was crafted in 2001. Total production was about 1,700 cases with about a third of that being Pinot Noir from four different sources (Rancho Ontiveros in the Santa Maria Valley where Augie planted three acres of Pinot Noir, Cedar Lane Vineyard in Arroyo Seco, Casa Torres Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, and the organically farmed Boulder Ridge Vineyard in Cambria).
Edgar Torres joined the winery in 2005 as assistant winemaker. In 2015, Edgar took over Hug Cellars where he produces about 800 cases of wine annually. Torres' parents left the village of Buenavista in Michoacan and settled in Cambria. Edgar and one of his sisters followed in 1990. Edgar learned winemaking working at Garretson Wine Company, Hug Cellars, Barrel 27 and McPrice Meyers. He also produces Spanish varietals under the Bodega de Edgar brand (4,500 cases annually). He is also to launch a twist-top, value-priced brand called Work & Play.
Hug Cellars wines are sold primarily through a mailing list. There is some retail distribution. The winery and tasting room is located at 2323 Tuley Court, Suite 120, Paso Robles. Tasting is available Friday-Monday or by appointment.
2008 Hug Cellars Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH 3.25, 45 cases, $48. Clones 1A and 2A (Wädenswil). 100% whole cluster. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · A superb wine that is just now coming into its own (it takes a few years for wines from Rancho Ontiveros to come around). Crazy amount of spice on the nose with a discreetly concentrated core of savory dark fruit and peppery spice on the palate, framed by bright acidity. Very good (+). Reviewed March 12, 2011 ARTICLE »
2006 Hug Cellars Paso Robles Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 95 cases, $25 (sold out). · This is the darkest-colored and highest alcohol percentage wine in the lineup. That said, this is a very good wine with admirable balance. The wine is alive with the scent of ripe berry fruit, cherry gumdrops, and oak vanillin. Rich and sweet strawberry and raspberry fruits cascade through the palate with an appealing richness. The texture is smooth as silk, the tannins are fine-grained, and the finish fades softly into memory. Charming. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Hug Cellars Cedar Lane Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 190 cases, $30. Clones 115 and 777. Aged in 20% new oak for 11 months. · Lightest reddish-purple color of the lineup. Oak infused red fruits dominate the Pinot scents with a touch of alcohol and ?cedar (was I influenced by the vineyard name?). Very discreet and charming red fruits with a nice touch of oak. Gentle and easily approachable, this lovely Pinot features a clean, lifting, and refreshing finish that hugs (sic) you back to the glass. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Hug Cellars Casa Torres Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 45 cases, $40. 25% whole cluster. Clone 23. Aged in 30% new oak barrels. · Sappy red cherry aromatic core with hints of fresh-sewn oak, smoke and a touch of heat. This delicious wine is quite distinct and interesting in its flavor profile which includes both raspberry and blackberry fruits and a good dose of Santa Maria white pepper and spice. With svelte tannins, this is a polished and enticing wine. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Hug Cellars Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 45 cases, $48 (sold out). Clones 1A and 2A. · I found that this wine was in a dumb phase currently which accentuated the oak. The aromatics are shy in fruit with plenty of toast, grilled cheese and char evident. There is a prodigious core of beautiful deep red stone fruits with a sidecar of herbs and plenty of char and grilled meat flavors. The texture is pillowy. Currently the oak overpowers the fruit and this wine will benefit from cellaring to allow the fruit core to meld with the oak. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »