Business owner and family man, Edgar Torres, finds his niche in SLO CAL as a winemaker and mastermind behind Paso Robles' Bodega de Edgar. Torres, a first-generation immigrant, was born in Michoacán, Mexico and raised in Cambria, CA.
“I didn’t grow up in a business family with a rich dad. I didn’t have a lifeline. But I knew I had product. My father taught me early on, if you want it, you’ve got to go get it. Nothing is going to be handed to you.”
In 2007, Torres invested all he had to age four barrels of Grenache grapes from Denner Vineyard, where he sources from even 10 years later. When that product was released in 2009, Torres wondered how far to lean into his passion.
“Early in 2010, I put myself in a financial pickle of doubling production. I didn’t have a line of credit. I didn’t know how to run a business, besides help other people run their business. Like many before me, I’ve stared at the wall thinking, ‘How am I going to make it work’”
Edgar has taken in his five staff members, sharing the fruits of his labor during meals at the tasting facility he opened in November on Combine Street in Paso Robles. It is not rare however to find Torres’s biological family visiting from their longtime home in Cambria. Torres’s father is known to take so much pride in his son's endeavor that he’ll pick a weed on his walk up to the backyard while his grandson rides his Tesla Power Wheel that matches his father’s.
“My humble approach to life is: you greet everyone as friends, then you kick them out like family members who overstay their visit [laughs]. I feel my staff has been doing a good job at making everyone feel welcome, no matter if you’re pedaling in on two wheels, or driving a Rolls-Royce. We don’t give you priority because of the way you show up. That’s one of the humble roots that translates down to the presentation of the wines.”
Those wines were also influenced by Torres’s mentors who come from all walks of life—peers from the local restaurant scene when he began (Jacob Toft), to restaurant/vineyard owners (Chris Cherry, Tablas Creek). Torres is quick to nod other Hispanic wine producing friends like Enrique Torres (Diablo Paso), Pedro Vazquez (LAW Estate Wines) or Oscar Ruiz (Halter Ranch).
Among them all, Torres found his niche without stepping on toes, pulling from frugal college years when he would scout the cheapest bottles at Trader Joes, which happened to be a Spanish blend.
“It wouldn’t be beneficial to copy anyone else in Paso Robles. Sentero Tinto De Toro was the cheapest bottle at Trader Joes back in the day. That sparked the idea of following the Spaniards. And in 2005, Paso Robles’ Hospice du Rhône hosted several producers from the Priorat region of Spain to showcase their unique blends. My inspiration was to follow them.
“Our wines have been regarded well the last few years. I don’t call it competition, really, but we’re dancing on the same dance floor as some of my friends I look up to in town. I’ve always felt their respect, but now they’re enthusiastically getting behind us.”
Keeping it in the family, each wine holds significance in their names.
E-Squared — the first blend Edgar ever made, which is my wife’s name (Erica) with mine.
Mis Pasos — a small project dedicated to the wine club and tasting room, with a family photo selected for it
El CABRhONe — Puerto Ricans usually purchase most of these bottles. Torres says he lives up to the title himself, “in every definition.”
La Guera – Dedicated to his wife and younger sister, who are the "light, fair skin, green eyes of the family."
Torres has fused his life not only with family, but with wine.
“I didn’t create Bodega de Edgar because I wanted a certain lifestyle. Wine is the catalyst for everything I do. I explore life around it—I travel around it. Meals are better enhanced with a good bottle of wine. Like, at my parents’ house with tacos and a bottle of red. My wife didn’t understand it quite at first, but now we have memories like sitting on a beautiful dock, sipping on a glass of wine.”
While Torres’s dream is coming to fruition, it’s far from finished. He is planning new ventures, expanding his footprint while each vintage brings in more acclaim.
“As a kid who worked up from failing in sixth grade to honor roll through high school, getting a 4.0 in wine requires money. If I had all the money in the world to compete in town, I’m pretty sure I’d be doing just as good, if not better than some.”
And by all accounts, Torres is carrying his own. The first phase of Bodega de Edgar’s backyard tasting experience was revealed in October. Torres is keen to expand to the lot next door, where an Airstream RV is ready to be installed. Most immediate, Torres is opening a four-day a week downtown Paso Robles tasting room called Straight Out Of Paso.
With small batches that move quickly, be sure to taste the true family heritage aboard Edgar Torres’s Bodega de Edgar experience.