Meet John Munch, the Gandalf of Paso Robles

John Munch, left, with specialist and capitalist Mary Fox. Courtesy Le Cuvier Winery

When I was researching my book on the winemakers of Paso Robles, among the most unforgettable characters I met was John Munch.
With his white beard and also scholarly means, Munch appears like a smart elder from a Tolkien fantasy. It’& rsquo; s clear he takes pleasure in that status amongst most of the area’& rsquo; s winemakers, that chat concerning him reverently and affectionately. Several of them owe their start to Munch, who has actually constantly been charitable with his time and also knowledge.
Munch has been working, primarily in the chalky hillsides west of town, for even more than 3 decades, and his methodical scientist’& rsquo; s mind conquered his preliminary ignorance of wine to transform him from an amateur right into one of the Central Coastline’& rsquo; s understand wine makers. However it was a long and circuitous trip to that lofty standing. And Munch has among one of the most fascinating bios I’& rsquo; ve ever encountered.
He was born in Costa Rica and grew up in numerous Central American countries, where his American dad benefited a fruit firm. (His bio on the winery web site declared that promoters had discovered him living with a native people, which he assured me was a joke “& ldquo; to make myself much more fascinating.” & rdquo; Yes, he has a quirky funny bone.)
After the 8th quality, Munch started traveling to The golden state for his education. He mosted likely to Berkeley and a variety of junior universities in the 1960s, invested four years in Europe then went back to the Golden State, meaning to enter law college. Then he got averted.
“& ldquo; A group of people I recognized were acquiring up old Victorian houses in San Francisco. It was extremely economical in those days –– this would certainly be the very early 1970s. They were getting them for $15,000, fixing them up after that offering them for $35,000.” & rdquo; Munch joined them, doing cupboard job as well as basic having. He found out the trade as he accompanied, as well as he transformed out to be an all-natural.
At the same time, he abandoned law for graduate job in English literary works at San Francisco State University; his specialty was very early West Saxon verse. However that, too, seemed like the incorrect pursuit. “& ldquo; I recognized it was crazy. I would have needed to show!”
& rdquo; Munch and his French-born other half decided they intended to stay in a more backwoods. A British pal whom they’& rsquo;d met while they were living in Provence told them concerning the Central Coastline. “& ldquo; He stated it advised him of the south of France. We drove down on a blisteringly warm day. It has to have been 105 or perhaps hotter. We asked yourself, ‘& lsquo; Just what the hell is he speaking regarding?’ ”
& rsquo; & rdquo; But the Munches soon fell in love with the land west of Paso. They moved southern in 1978 and got residential or commercial property where Munch’& rsquo; s present winery, Le Cuvier, is situated on stunning Vine Hill Lane. Munch developed an outstanding residence there, largely alone.
Munch didn’& rsquo; t plan to come to be a wine maker; it took place entirely by mishap, he says.
“& ldquo; A buddy informed me regarding a group from the Champagne region in France that had an interest in coat-tailing Domaine Chandon.” & rdquo;(The Napa winery was the initial American champagne manufacturer established up by a French company, Moët Hennessy.) Munch was asked to do some research on the possibility of duplicating that success somewhere else in the state. “& ldquo; One point caused an additional, and also the following thing you understand I started a storage –– me, with a level in Old English as well as no training in microbiology.”
& rdquo; In those days, there were just a handful of commercial vineyards in the location. However Munch was figured out not to be an amateur at his new profession. “& ldquo; I took all the weekend programs I might at UC Davis. I read all the basic publications, however in time abandoned a lot of the university approach to winemaking.”
& rdquo; In the very early 1980s, Estrella controlled the local scene. Munch as well as other new wine makers acquired the vineyard’& rsquo; s grapes, making effective wine with them “. & ldquo; I began with the Adelaida Cellars brand name with the 1981 vintage, utilizing Estrella Vineyard grapes. We won big awards utilizing their fruit. It (ticked) them off.”
& rdquo; Estrella went bankrupt in 1987, requiring Munch to establish an additional home nearby where he continuouslied make wine for his two brands, Adelaida Cellars and also Le Cuvier. In 1990, Munch became part of partnership with the Van Steenwyk family members, that had a sizable property in capitals to the west of town. A new winery was constructed, and also the Van Steenwyks bought extra building, consisting of 419 acres of the original 1,200-acre Hoffman Mountain Ranch, where wine pioneer Dr. Stanley Hoffman made high quality wine in the 1960s and also ’& rsquo; 70s. After aiding with the growth, Munch left Adelaida in 1999.
He began concentrating on Le Cuvier, a tag he had created for himself in 1987 with syrah from his residence residential or commercial property. He worked in a fashionable shed on Adelaida Road, functioning nearly exclusively with west side grapes. In 2001 he entered right into a partnership with specialist and investor Mary Fox; in 2011, he opened his new facilities on Creeping plant Hill Lane, the website of his initial home, in the nick of time for harvest.
Under the tasting room exists a vital prize. Munch is a prodigious enthusiast of neighborhood wine, with among the earliest and also most substantial wine collections in the area. He also has a couple of bottles of Hoffman’& rsquo; s fabled wine from the 1970s. “& ldquo; It & rsquo; s amazing exactly how well much of the wine around here ages,” & rdquo; he
noted. Munch still likes to experiment. He utilizes just wild neighborhood yeast. One of his goals is to reduce the amount of sulfites in his wine. “& ldquo; I love the wild insanity of it, and all the variables,” & rdquo; he claimed. & ldquo; Winemaking keeps me engaged. It makes one ask, ‘& lsquo; What happens if? & rsquo; It & rsquo;
s never ever dull. & rdquo; Le Cuvier & rsquo; s sampling space is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays. 3333 Creeping plant Hillside Lane, Paso Robles. 805-238-5706, lcwine.com

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