21 Apr From Bricks To Brix: Cesar Toxqui
Life takes many surprising twists and turns. Sometimes you start out on a life’s path, then tragedy hits, and not only does it take you off the path, but sometimes it can make you feel like giving up. Cesar’s story is a story of life’s twists and turns and how a spirit that never gives up can lead to your dreams, even if you didn’t know you had them.
Cesar was born in a pueblo outside of Mexico City. He’s number five out of nine children. When he was just 11 years old he began a business with his brother making bricks. They would take bricks to Mexico City every week. Even at this very young age they were finding success. Their lives and the lives of their family had a very bright future. But sadly, life had a tragic turn when his brother became very sick. The entire financial burden for his large family rested on Cesar’s shoulders.
When Cesar was 15 his uncle, who lived in Ukiah, California, offered to let him come to the USA to live and work. Cesar took the offer and moved to Ukiah, expecting that work would come easily. However, it did not come easily for a 15 year old boy who was attendeeing high school.. After awhile, with no work, Cesar was ready to return to Mexico, feeling like he had failed his family. That’s when he met the son of Jesse Tidwell, who then owned Parson’s Creek Winery. They needed help with the winery. Not only did they hire Cesar, but they invited him to live with them as well.
One thing we have learned, is that is virtually impossible to work in the wine industry and not eventually fall in love with wine, and Cesar is no exception. He went to Sonoma State to become an engineer, but Jesse Tidwell asked why he didn’t become a winemaker. After finishing nearly all the required math for engineering, Cesar decided that he should indeed pursue winemaking.
One of his early jobs was as the cellar master at Brutocao Cellars, who is also a custom crush facility. Watching all these small independent vintners develop their own wine label inspired Cesar to start his own label, it also was the catalyst to him leaving Brutocao Cellars and eventually starting Cesar Toxqui Cellars.
Cesar’s winemaking style is staying as close to nature as possible, from usuing as many organically grapes as possible to using wild yeast for fermentation. His respect for the terroir and nature’s expertise in making good grapes shows in his wine. His wines are full bodied, approachable, fruit forward, food friendly, and really just very very good. He has a label he named Immigrant to celebrate his American dream and the American dream of others.
Cesar makes chardonnay, viogner, zinfandel, a solara style blend, and pinot. Pinot is his favorite because it’s not only a challenge to grow, but a challenge to make as well.
You can visit Cesar at his tasting room in Hopland which is in Mendocino County. He’s personally at the tasting room every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.