Before the big economic crash of 2008, Edgar Torres was the Assistant Winemaker at Hug Cellars. It not only gave Edgar great experience, but when the economic crash happened and Augie could no longer keep him on staff, he went on to create his own label. He has worked tirelessly to create Bodega de Edgar, an ideal representation of great winemaking, and Edgar and Augie have remained fast friends through the years. My Wine Club members still speak of meeting Edgar at my home while tasting some of the wonderful Hug Cellars wines.
I learned last year that Augie and Raquel Hug had decided to retire from the wine industry, and that Edgar would be taking over the Hug label. Unfortunately, I had promised not to talk or write about it since there were still some details that had to be straightened out. Well, it’s a go!
Why Augie? Why now? Because it’s time. Augie spends a great deal of his time working in Houston as a consultant (he’s a Drilling Supervisor working with engineers in the geothermal, oil, and natural gas fields in his real life, by the way) and commutes back and forth every couple of weeks or so. After pondering over it for a long time, Augie and Raquel decided that it was time to retire, give the label a fresh start, and (very possibly) move to Texas to cut out on some of the commute time.
Why Edgar? Not only because the Hugs know him so well, but also because they share the same winemaking philosophy. That is, sustainably grown, dry farmed, using the natural yeast from the vineyards that the grapes are sourced from, and making as unmessed-with a wine as possible. “We allow the grapes to express themselves through the wine,” said Augie.
It’s only logical. I can see (okay, *taste*) Augie’s linear thinking in each bottle of wine that he’s made. His wines are universally highly rated on Cellartracker (“real” wine drinkers) and he’s proud of the reputation of the label. With the former winemaker being reinstated as the current winemaker, there will be little transition shock. There are wines already bottled and waiting for the new labels (still a secret, dammit) and they are delicious!
I was in Paso over the Vintage Paso aka Zin Fest weekend, and was fortunate enough to be able to pick up six cases (!!!!) of some of the Hug Cellars Library wines for $50 a case. Despite the bumpy ride home, I’m sipping a glass of the 2004 Basetti Vineyard Syrah that’s still showing well despite its advanced age. I may have to have a Hug Wine Party!
The transition period is taking place during most of the rest of the year. Augie, while handing over the reins to Edgar, is staying around as consultant and guide. When you’re in Paso, be sure to swing by and say hi. It’s an end of one era, but the beginning of something just as great.
I will have more details on our visits to Hug Cellars over the weekend in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!
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