three men standing in a vineyard
Founding Partners: Robin Baggett, Jim Efird and Bob Schiebelhut
Three Men
Founding Partners: Robin Baggett, Jim Efird and Bob Schiebelhut
woman wearing a blazer
President & CEO: June McIvor
Tolosa Grenache Noir

From Growers to Vintners

For ten years after Robin Baggett and Bob Schiebelhut began planting vineyards in the Edna Valley, the agriculturally-minded lawyers successfully grew high quality grapes on Edna Ranch, which ultimately grew to 720 acres. (See for the story of their Edna Ranch.)  Although Bob was a home winemaker, they did not – at that point – plan on developing a winery.  Plans changed following the 1997 harvest, which featured a heavy crop.  Faced with potentially not being able to sell all of their grapes (which they ultimately did do), they determined that in order to be masters of their own destinies, they needed to have their own facility for processing those grapes into wine. 

In 1998, Robin and Bob partnered with Jim Efird to create Courtside Cellars.  Jim is a viticultural pioneer, having planted the majority of Edna Valley vineyards starting over 40 years ago, when most of the land was growing garbanzo beans.  Working with Steve Dooley, the winemaker behind Stephen Ross Wine Cellars, the trio finished the facility’s design and construction before the 1998 harvest.  Originally conceived as a winery for the processing of their own grapes from Edna Ranch by local winemaker clients, the facility quickly caught the eye of Robert Mondavi Winery.  Mondavi approached Courtside Cellars with a proposition: if the partners expanded the capacity of the winery, Mondavi would commit to a long term contract as a client of the facility for the bulk of the capacity.  This model of serving the needs of some of the biggest wine names in California proved to be so successful that Courtside Cellars expanded in 2000 by building a 300,000 square foot custom crush winery in San Miguel, 40 miles north of its Edna Valley home. 

Once Robin and Bob had a winery, creating their own wine brand was a natural next step.  Tolosa, named after the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, was born in 1998.  Bob served as the winemaker for the inaugural vintage.  Although his Pinot Noir received a double gold at the wine competition at the Mid-State Fair, Bob recognized that Tolosa needed to be in the hands of a “real” winemaker.  From 1999 through 2015, Bob worked with several notable and talented winemakers to craft Tolosa wines.  Tolosa has always had an advantage, being able to select the top grapes from the diverse blocks of Edna Ranch, taking about 10-15% of the best fruit from the iconic vineyard.  Always showcasing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the cool climate Edna Valley, through the years Tolosa also produced Viognier, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Rosé and a Rhône-style blend called Salaal, after Bob’s daughters SArah, LAura and ALison.

As Courtside Cellars and Tolosa continued to grow, there reached a point in 2003 when Robin and Bob could no longer maintain their fulltime law practices and their burgeoning wine business.  Something had to go.  Not surprisingly, it was the law practice, from which they both retired.  The law firm continued without them, bringing in a new partner from Los Angeles, June McIvor.

Tolosa Tasting Room Opened; Tolosa Wines on the Road

Of the three partners, Robin was the most adept at sales and marketing.  It was his push that led to Tolosa opening its newly constructed hospitality areas in 2004, including the tasting room and Heritage Room (now called the Primera Room), recognizing the significance of providing a remarkable experience for wine enthusiasts. The tasting room received several design awards; incorporating elements of wood, cork, steel, and glass in the design created the clean, simple lines that display an upscale atmosphere in which to discover wines of depth and complexity. Set amidst the stunning hills of the San Luis Obispo Coast, this destination quickly became an ideal location for wine connoisseurs to appreciate the natural beauty while savoring the exceptional wines of Tolosa. The tasting room brought guests a genuine sense of place, allowing them to immerse themselves in the estate’s beauty on Edna Ranch.  Tolosa’s first tasting room manager, Brittney O’Brien, is still with the company today.

2004 was also the year that Robin plucked a young man from the cellar, handed him a wine bag, and told him to go out and place Tolosa in fine restaurants and wine shops throughout the region and the state.  Darren Worley now oversees a wholesale portfolio of wines from Tolosa and its sister brands of over $5 million in annual sales. 

Building On Expansive Landscape
Tolosa Construction
building entrance framed by a tree
Tolosa Winery
outdoor patio and sculpture garden
Tolosa Winery
Tolosa Pinot
woman in front of bottles of wine
Tolosa Director of Wine Clubs Brittney OBrien
man in front of wine barrel
Tolosa Director of Sales Darren Worley
man in vineyard smiling
Winemaker: Frederic Delivert
man in cowboy hat and jacket
Tolosa Vintner Robin Baggett

Direct to Consumer is Born

The Supreme Court decision in the Granholm case in 2005 struck down many barriers to shipping wine between states, opening up new markets for the shipment of wine from California wineries directly to customers in other states.   Robin’s legal training made him one of the first in the wine business to truly appreciate the opportunity this case provided.  His unflagging entrepreneurial spirit led him to act on it.  In 2006, Robin and his now wife, Michelle, founded the winery Alpha Omega in the Napa Valley with some partners, dedicated to producing world-class Bordeaux varietals in a welcoming hospitality setting and creating direct and lasting relationships with their guests. Robin was a true pioneer of the Direct-to-Consumer model before DTC was even a term.

The visionary behind the look and feel of the brand as well as the hospitality experience is Michelle Baggett. Michelle began her multifaceted career in the development of hospitality brands long before she joined the world of wine. A Georgia native, Michelle’s career designing five-star hotels landed her in Beverly Hills and then Honolulu as a Senior Designer for two of the world’s leading international hotel architectural firms. Her keen eye for design and exceptional hospitality set the tone for what Alpha Omega would become.

A New Phase of Custom Crush

In 2012, partners Bob Schiebelhut, Jim Efird, and Robin Baggett announced that they had sold the Courtside Cellars custom crush winery in San Miguel to E. & J. Gallo Winery.  The sale included the Courtside Cellars name; the Edna Valley custom service facility was renamed Phase 2 Cellars.  As it has done since 1998, Phase 2 Cellars provides winemaking services to some of the most renowned names in California wine.

A New Phase for Tolosa

2015 marked a significant milestone for Tolosa.  After an illustrious career, Jim Efird was ready to retire.  Bob Schiebelhut was looking to scale back.  Still going strong, Robin Baggett and some partners bought out Jim’s interest in the business.  Bob stayed on as a minority partner and consulted on the custom crush business, while continuing to manage Edna Ranch, until his retirement in 2023.

It was Robin’s vision to apply what he had built with Alpha Omega to Tolosa, further elevating the winemaking through a $3 million renovation of the winemaking facility and bringing in top winemaking talent.  Focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, he set the team to make wines to rival any in the world.  Winemaker Frederic Delivert joined the team, crafting wines of nuance, balance and distinction.  Robin also revamped the hospitality experience at the estate, introducing new luxury tasting spaces and elevated experiences.  Most importantly, he created the framework for building direct and lasting relationships with Tolosa consumers.  Brought in to oversee the transformation and ongoing success of Tolosa was Robin’s law partner, June McIvor.

Unveiling of the Collective

In 2018, Vintners Robin and Michelle Baggett established the Alpha Omega Collective as a joint marketing umbrella brand, encompassing Alpha Omega, Tolosa, and Perinet in the Priorat region of Spain (of which they acquired a significant stake in 2017). The Collective aims to present a diverse yet harmonious portfolio, offering the epitome of ultra-premium wines and unmatched hospitality.  The first undertaking of the Collective was a tasting room in the downtown of the City of Napa, open in 2019.  Featuring flights of wines from all three wineries, visitors to the epicenter of California wine now have the opportunity to experience Tolosa and the Edna Valley at Alpha Omega Collective Napa. 

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from guests in Napa, Alpha Omega Collective Paso Robles, nestled on the park in downtown Paso Robles, greeted its first guests in January of 2023. And in June 2023, Alpha Omega Collective Healdsburg, located in Sonoma County, will make its debut, introducing Tolosa to the pinotphiles who flock to this region.

As Tolosa celebrates its 25th anniversary, a new chapter unfolds with the formation of the Alpha Omega Collective entity. In 2023, what started as a joint marketing venture became a corporate reality: Alpha Omega, Tolosa, and Perinet USA each came under the common ownership of AOC Holdings, LLC.  Led by the visionary Vintners Robin and Michelle Baggett, the AOC team is stewarded by CEO June McIvor, COO Jeff Knowles, and CFO Chelsea Cameron. This collaborative endeavor has united a group of artisanal winemakers who share an unwavering passion for creating wines of unparalleled distinction.

Special Events Celebrating Tolosa’s 25th Anniversary

Tolosa will be celebrating its 25th anniversary on Saturday, September 9th, with special tasting flights and live music. Reservations are recommended for your tasting, as spaces are limited.

In addition, to commemorate our 25th vintage, winemaker Frederic Delivert will be crafting a special, limited edition Pinot Noir from the 2023 harvest that captures the essence of our rich heritage and represents a quarter-century of dedication to excellence in winemaking.