Santa Maria Sun: One-woman winery: Orcutt native Angela Soleno brings passion and principle to her high-end wines

When hard-working Angela Soleno followed her heart, starting her own wine label in 2008, she still worked full-time at wineries in Los Olivos, bartended on weekends in Ventura, and took freelance writing assignments to make ends meet.

The single mother of two, who grew up in Orcutt, also juggled driving her children to cheer practice and guitar lessons, and all the while taking night classes at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria to learn more about winemaking and viticulture.

 

ARTISAN WINE MAKER    Turiya Wines are handcrafted by Angela Soleno at her winemaking facility in Lompoc, where she invites customers to sample wines from the barrel.    PHOTO COURTESY OF TENLEY FOHL PHOTOGRAPHY

ARTISAN WINE MAKER

Turiya Wines are handcrafted by Angela Soleno at her winemaking facility in Lompoc, where she invites customers to sample wines from the barrel.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TENLEY FOHL PHOTOGRAPHY

“Looking back, I don’t know how I did it or when I slept,” Soleno marveled.

She credits her dad and friends for supporting her through those sleepless lean years, whether it was helping to haul fruit or sorting grapes.

“I won’t pretend that I could have done it without [them],” she added.

Soleno started producing wine under her label Turiya Wines at Central Coast Wine Services, a warehouse in Santa Maria, home to many small artisan wineries under one roof.

“I had no prior experience. The facility had everything I needed at my fingertips, including other winemakers whose brains I got to pick. All I needed was fruit and some barrels,” she said.

That first year, she contracted for 1 ton of cabernet sauvignon and 1 ton of Syrah, both from Camp 4 Vineyard in Santa Ynez.

“I was elated, nervous, frightened, and excited all at the same time—still am. I tell people that making wine is a bit like falling in love: I suffer, if that’s the right word, through all the symptoms, every emotion emanated,” Soleno said. “My hands-on education began overnight and hasn’t stopped since.”

The 34-year-old Soleno currently handcrafts her luxury wines—Bordeaux and Italian-style wines—in Lompoc at 316 North F St., in a small industrial space that she shares with Scott Cellars.

 


THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Turiya Wines produces luscious luxury wines using red grape varieties such as petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, syrah, and sangiovese. Bottles are screen printed in 24K gold.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ANGELA SOLENO


She wants her winery to stay “small and focused,” producing less than 300 cases a year of ultra premium boutique wines.

Soleno’s philosophy, found on her website, is to make only enough wine, “So that each bin, fermenter, vineyard block, or barrel gets personal attention with touch, smell, and taste. The end result: dramatically fine-tuned wines.”

Soleno cherry-picks only the best grapes, takes great care of that fruit in the winery, will not manipulate her wine to enhance the flavors, and lets her wines age much longer than most wineries.

“I age the wines for three years in oak, bottle age it at least one more year, then release. Even though I began making wine in 2008, my first release wasn’t until 2013 because of my dedication to the aging process,” she said.

Those wines are now sold out. The excellent 2009 vintage was released last spring, and the 2011 vintage will be released this November. (Soleno did not make wine in 2010, which was rainy and then hot, because the available fruit, affected by the weather, wasn’t up to her high standards.)

Soleno’s 2009 Turiya Malbec (36 cases produced) is food friendly and complex, “drenched with flavors of raspberry mocha that continually evolve in your glass.”

The 2009 Petit Verdot (49 cases produced) is beautifully voluptuous, “dark and alluring, yet obvious berries that were tossed and turned, crushed and nurtured by a woman’s hand.”

Turiya Wines currently range in price from $65 to $85 a bottle.

Soleno believes that low-quality wines are a waste of time, money, and taste buds.

“I only produce red wine. I work with two to three grapes each year and create a red blend as my flagship wine for the year and also produce very small individual bottlings of each grape that goes into that blend,” Soleno said. “I mix things like sangiovese with petit verdot and syrah with cabernet. Since I don’t own any land, I work closely with the local farmers to find fruit sources that suit my needs.”

Turiya Wines are sold to the public via an allocation list accessible at turiyawines.com, or by phone at 478-7016. In addition to being able to shop online, members of the allocation list are guaranteed two bottles of each wine coming out in the future.

“These are my babies, I’ve handled each and every bottle from start to finish and even put my signature on them before I let them go,” Soleno said.

Want to taste Turiya Wines? Set up a $15 tasting at the winery, or for $25 you will sample the winery’s current release of bottled wines, plus Soleno will walk you through the barrels to taste wines still aging in the cellar.

“That way, people can taste what wines taste like really raw and fresh and then see how it evolves in the barrel. Then, I describe how I let it sit in the same barrel, and the tannins integrate into the wine, and I don’t filter, and all that fun stuff,” Soleno explained. “It’s very educational.”

“I truly believe in having a personal relationship with my customers. I want them to remember their experience with the wine I created. I want to make my customers proud,” Soleno added. “I guess that is how I get to exercise my control-freak, narcissistic personality—by knowing each and every person who has a bottle of my wine.”

The truth-seeking Soleno named her winery Turiya, a Hindu word meaning “the ultimate state of consciousness (or awareness).”

“By definition this pure state of consciousness is where reality and truth align,” Soleno said.

“Why make white wine just to add it to the lineup? Why hurry the process and bottle early just to free up barrels? ‘Why’ was the constant question that kept, and continues to keep me, on the right path.”

That is why she chose the word Turiya, “because, I believe in being aware, and I believe wine to be an experience, not just a product.”


Sun wine and food writer Wendy Thies Sell also tries to stay small and focused. Contact her at wthies@santamariasun.com.

Why wine is the new black

Like Black Plague?
Remember the Dark Ages?  Well, you probably don’t actually remember them like they were yesterday but here is a neat little historical fact - wine was the preferred drink during the Dark Ages due to water contamination.  What sounds better to you, wine or the Black Plague?

What about prison?
Ok so wine can be an ice-breaker.  Ever go to someone’s house empty handed?  Ever show up with a good bottle of wine and blow everyone away with your suave demeanor?  You don’t want to be the scared version of Taylor Schilling in Orange is the New Black and run from your confrontations.  Instead, pretend it is day one of prison orientation - be a boss and bring a bottle of wine.

How new-classic can you get?
That is up to you.  You are the game changer.  You are the trend setter.  Think of all the things you consider classic from cars to that little black dress.   What about wine?  Stay classy but be the first to know, first to discover and drink what you find to be the new best thing - Turiya.  Then, spread the word.

Peace!
Happy New Year
Ang

 

4 Santa Barbara Wine Trends to Watch in 2015

4 Santa Barbara Wine Trends to Watch in 2015

By Gabe Saglie

Small is Big

I recently attended a gathering at the Zotovich wine production facility in Lompoc that brought local writers together with boutique producers.  And one thing was clear: the little guys are ready to carry the torch.  These are small operations – a few hundred cases a year, mostly – that may not have the marketing budget or name recognition of their larger counterparts.  But their love for specific grapes and vineyards is pervasive, and the techniques they’re adopting are leading to bright, clean wines that are as approachable as they are tasty.  Look for labels like Big Tar, Dreamcote, Turiya, Frequency and No Limit.

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Top Wines of 2014 - Wines that will blow your skirt up

Top Wines of 2014 - Wines that will blow your skirt up

There are always a lot of wines to choose from, and it can be difficult to know what are suggested purchases without having tasted a wine. Few are willing to spend $30, $50, or more on a wine, hoping it will be money well spent.

Vintages change, picking decisions change, blendings can change, and sometimes even winemakers change. I am fortunate enough to taste many wines each year. Some wines I taste at various events and dinners, some are samples sent to me, while others may be tasted in the tasting room. When I see a wine scores a 95 or a 90, they both communicate one thing to me. These are wines well worth drinking and bringing to the dinner table.

This is my annual post for what I call, "Wines that will blow up your skirt." No scores here. These are simply wines that were in my glass at some point in the past year, and I hope to drink them again...

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Level 3 Sommelier discovers Turiya Wines

"Turiya Wines capture the essence of a garagiste winery: small production, hands on at every step, and fine-tuned to express the winemakers style. These wines are unique, and offer the wine lover something that is different from the rest of the pack. Watch out for Angela Soleno, she could just be producing the next California “cult wine”." - Jim Newcomb, Level III Certified, ISG Wine Educator.

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Best of Santa Maria - Award

SANTA MARIA June 16, 2014 -- Turiya Wines has been selected for the 2014 Best of Santa Maria Award in the Bottle Shops and Wine Stores category by the Santa Maria Award Program.

Each year, the Santa Maria Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Santa Maria area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2014 Santa Maria Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Santa Maria Award Program and data provided by third parties.

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From the winemaker - pretty, shiny things...

Hello wine friends,

Years ago when I worked at Consilience a tall Englishman walked into the place looking a bit lost.  If you know me, you may know I fall in love pretty quickly, especially with the 'lost puppy' type. Well, I probably pushed some other girl out of the way and walked over to him to see what he needed.  'Wine bottles' he replied, 'I'm looking for beautiful wine bottles'. 

He explained to me that he crafted chandeliers out of recycled wine bottles.  He showed me a few pictures.  Ah, an artist, I thought... and so I volunteered to run around town and collect pretty bottles for him.  We made a date for the next time he would be around.  I promised him a nice collection.

Greg, the fantastically tall, incredibly handsome, crafty and artistic chandelier-maker, came back to town periodically and grabbed his bottles.  Eventually I left Consilience and went to work for myself.  One day I got a text from Greg that he was in town.  I only had a moment to stop and see him and give him a 'HALF-FULL' version of the prettiest bottle I had ever seen, my own.

Greg recently surprised me by including a Turiya wine bottle in one of his gorgeous chandeliers.  And now I think I have to have one of these made for the winery.  Oh how I love pretty, shiny things...

Custom creation with a 24k gold screenprinted Turiya wine bottle glowing alongside some other collectables!



From the winemaker - private tastings

Hello wine world,

Due to an increase in winery traffic and with harvest right around the corner, private tastings have been a little harder to manage when it comes to on-the-fly tasters.   Since I absolutely LOVE showing the wines but needed a better way to schedule these in-depth tastings, I have opted to work with an online reservation system to take appointments and decided to offer two types of wine tasting experiences, although I truly believe each and every time you visit me the tasting experience will be one-of-a-kind.


Here are the details for scheduling your private tasting

General Wine Tasting - $15

Each year I create a red wine blend, carefully selecting the grape varietals that will make up that years cuvee... Taste the individual grape varietals and the blends they create in this fun exploratory tasting.

Great for returning customers or people who want to explore Turiya Wines most current offerings. $15 tasting fee waived with wine purchase. This flight offers up a tasting of the three wines that make up an entire vintage!

Private tasting with the winemaker - $25

Enjoy a private barrel tasting (only your group) in the barrel room with me!  I take you on an wine evolution, explaining what processes were used to create the wines, and show you how wines taste throughout the aging process. You will experience three different barrel samples and two finished wines.

I am currently pouring the 2009 vintage which includes the 2009 Hither, Central Coast, a blend of Petit Verdot and Malbec, as well as the 2009 Petit Verdot, Solana Vineyard (Paso AVA), and the 2009 Malbec, Solana Vineyard.

Hope to see you soon!

Ang

 

Highlights from Crush Food, Wine and Art Festival - Santa Monica

'Turiya Wines : Small boutique wine from the central coast. Tasted their Syrah, Cabernet, and Perpetual Bliss blend. I love me some boutique wines. All three were fruit forward and ready to drink right now. I’d have to say the perpetual bliss blend would be the one I’d buy if I have to chose one. Good stuff.'

- TheYumYumFoodie.com

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Garagiste Vintners Gear Up! (SB Independent article)

Garagiste Vintners Gear Up! (SB Independent article)

'She’s a fan of aged wines, so those 2008s — all sourced from Camp 4 Vineyard in Santa Ynez, though she’s expanded to other properties in subsequent years — are just emerging from her cellar, including a syrah (with wet-dog leatheriness and a plum-pie flavor), a cabernet (deliciously chalky cherry), and the “Perpetual Bliss” blend of syrah and cabernet (super-soft with cola, cinnamon, and yeastiness pulling each varietal apart).' - Santa Barbara Independent

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Central Coast Wine Press

Central Coast Wine Press

Soleno is a big fan of the natural acidity in wines, especially reds, especially Italian reds, and looks forward to getting her hands on some Aglianico, perhaps from French Camp Vineyards outside Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo County, she said.

“The more obscure the varietals, the better.”

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