The final stop on our Spring Mountain road trip brings us to Philip Togni Vineyard. This 25 acre domaine is discreetly tucked away from Spring Mountain Road. No signage alerts the visitor to this family owned and operated enterprise. After successfully locating the unmarked gate and entrance to the winery, Scott and I were warmly greeted by Lisa Togni. She proceeded to take us on a tour of the winery, before introducing us to her parents, Philip and Birgitta.
Up here at 1900-2000 feet elevation, Philip and Birgitta Togni planted their first Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in 1981. Their first harvest occurred in 1983. Since then, the Togni’s have focused their energies towards the exclusive cultivation of Bordeaux red wine varietals. More specifically, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Due to the vulnerability to phylloxera, the vineyards were re-planted in the early nineties. Today, the Togni vineyards are established over approximately 10 acres comprised of 20 separate blocks, all of which are dry farmed and hand harvested. The vineyards are comprised of the following:
80% Cabernet Sauvignon
3% Cabernet France
2% Petit Verdot
The total annual case production hovers at around 1500-2000. 50% of this is sold directly to clients via the domaine. 35% can be found in select restaurants and retail establishments. The remaining 15% makes its way abroad to countries like Germany and Japan.
Having studied under Emile Peynaud, while earning the Diplôme National d’Oenologie at the University of Bordeaux, Mr. Togni’s formative winemaking years are deeply rooted in France and traditional winemaking techniques. Philip also worked as the assistant Régisseur or manager at the venerable Château Lascombes. It is during this period that he developed a particular affinity and appreciation for the elegant and ageworthy wines of Margaux. In addition to great Bordeaux, Mr. Togni also maintains a predilection for fine Italian wines from the Piedmonte.
Philip Togni Vineyard is truly a small and tightly knit operation. Birgitta Togni is in charge of the vineyards throughout the growing season. Only at harvest will the domaine take on an additional 6-7 individuals. An exception to this family run enterprise is the indispensable Salvador Sanchez, whom we met on our visit. Salvador can, and does do just about anything at the domaine. On this day he was busy sanitizing barrels old school style..
Philip and Birgitta’s daughter Lisa, whom you met at the beginning of this post, is also an integral piece to the Togni puzzle. In addition to living, breathing and drinking all that is wine for over 2 decades, Lisa has gained valuable experience over the years by working harvests at Chateau Leoville-Barton and in Australia. Lisa also holds a Masters degree in business administration with an emphasis in the wine trade. She is poised to take over the domaine within the next several years. When Philip and Birgitta are ready to turn over the reigns, it appears that this small domaine will remain in extremely capable hands.
In my next post, I’ll cover my tasting and conversation with Birgitta Togni!