Continuing a legacy, crafting fresh and approachable wines from Napa Valley, Mendocino, and Rockpile Sonoma County
It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Dawn Pauli-Forman and Tobias ‘Toby’ Forman had chosen to become winery owners as their chosen profession. Both came from noted winemaking families that had enjoyed incredible success in the evolution of the heralded Napa Valley and the more northern locale of Mendocino County.
For the record, Toby Forman is the son of iconic Napa Valley winemaker Ric Forman, one of the guiding forces in the valley’s rise to international prominence. He is credited with being the forerunner in the varietal Merlot’s meteoric climb to importance during the latter part of the 20th century. His current winery, Forman Vineyards, is a Napa Valley staple of the highest level.
Bill Pauli is equally well-revered in Mendocino folklore for his Yokayo Wine Company and his numerous stints in various wine-related associations and boards including a term as President of the California Farm Bureau Federation. Bill Pauli is basically a grower whose grapes have provided a host of high scores and awards in competitions.
Dawn Pauli and Toby Forman met while Dawn was attending UC Davis for viticulture classes. A backyard barbecue proved to be the nesting ground for a love affair and marriage that has produced a pair of daughters for the couple. Their individual backgrounds proved to be the cement that resulted in the formation of Tobias Vineyards and its ascension to the highest ranks of Napa Valley producers.
“We both worked with our fathers since we were little,” commented Dawn Pauli-Forman. “It has turned out almost perfectly. Toby handles the growing and winemaking and my marketing degree allows me to handle that aspect of the business.”
Tobias Vineyards started small - really small - in 2005. Toby Forman produced around 200 cases of Zinfandel and the brand was off to the races. Excellent scores from industry periodicals allowed the winery to vault into the upper strata of Napa Valley stardom.
“Toby does practically everything around the winery,” added Dawn Pauli-Forman. “He even drives the tractor in the steep vineyards that occupy a portion of the famed top section of Howell Mountain. We have a 43-acre estate vineyard that provides us the fruit for our Pauli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that has become so popular with our customers. The fruit is superior in nature and Toby is able to craft the juice into some really fabulous wines. I truly believe that Toby is a farmer first and a winemaker second and that give shim the emphasis to be successful. He wears a number of different hats and even designs the gardens.”
As an update, Tobias Vineyards currently produces wines around the 4,000-case level, but expects that number to grow in the near future. “We will only produce a limited amount of our Pauli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, but will increase the number of cases of our Lifestyle brand to meet consumer demand. As long as we remain consistent in our quality, our production will rise as the need increases,” added Dawn Pauli- Forman.
The Tobias Vineyard label is a story unto itself. The Formans enlisted the help of noted San Francisco artist Alyssa Warnock to produce what they called, “a vintage-classic look” for their bottles. After perusing hundreds of both European and California wine labels, they decided on a “gentlemanly” photo of Toby for their signature wine. Alyssa Warnook performed her magic and the present-day label evolved. A distinctive “T” was added to the capsule to produce a near-perfect for the consumer.
“We are still a small, family business,” continued Dawn Pauli-Forman. “We never want to lose the relationship with our roots that has allowed us to become successful.”
Her words are an understatement of sorts. The fairy tale marriage of Dawn and Toby Forman could easy become the fodder for a Hollywood script. For the first decade and a half of its existence, Tobias Vineyards has carved out a distinctive niche in the ultra-competitive scenario that is Napa Valley at its zenith. Their wines are different from those of their parents and are always considered for their individual characteristics. This is no easy feat when you consider the reputations of Ric Forman and Bill Pauli, both iconic figures in the California wine industry.
Kudos to Tobias Vineyards and their charming and efficacious owners. They represent the current generation of winery proprietors who strive for the best possible results in producing their products.
We are happy to introduce our Diamond Wine Club members to this marvelous Napa Valley winery and its heralded Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheers!
Map of the area
Wine Wizard Trivia!
1. What is the difference between sweet wine and dry wine?
Although this seems like an easy distinction (one is sweet and one is not), there’s actually more to it than that. Both sweet and dry wines are defined by their levels of residual sugar (sugar that is left in the wine after fermentation has been completed). Other factors such as acidity, tannins, and alcohol can effect the perception of what is sweet and what is dry, but it all comes down to the residual sugar. Here are some of the most common processes when creating a sweet wine:
1) Allowing the grapes to further mature on the vine, which creates a higher sugar level in the fruit, and thus a higher level of residual sugar after fermentation;
2) Adding sugar to the juice to achieve the desired level of sweetness;
3) Stopping the fermentation process before it has finished its cycle;
4) Picking the fruit before they have fully matured and then drying the grapes in the sun to produce more sweetness.
2. What is the average alcohol content in wine?
The average alcohol content in wine is between 12% and 15%. Winemakers actually have to pay a higher tax rate on wines that are over 14% alcohol by volume.
3. What determines the alcohol content in a bottle of wine?
The degree of alcohol in any given glass of wine is equivalent to its percentage by volume, which is often referred to as ‘ABV,’ or alcohol by volume. The alcohol content in wine is directly correlated with the amount of sugar that has developed in the grapes at harvest time (the higher the sugar level, the higher the potential alcohol). This doesn’t mean that higher alcohol wines are sweeter though. During fermentation, yeast consumes the sugar and converts it to alcohol. The style (or varietal) of wine, the climate where the grapes are grown, and the winemaking/fermentation process are all key factors in determining both the sugar content of the grapes and the amount of alcohol in your bottle.
Toby Forman - Winemaker
Toby Forman learned the art of winemaking working alongside his winemaker father, Ric Forman (of Sterling, Newton and Forman Vineyards). He approaches each vintage with intense diligence in the vineyard, profound wisdom yet natural talent in the cellar, and with the knowledge of generations past. Toby works to find consistency and balance in each wine, blending his family’s unique vineyard blocks to create harmony.