TOOTH & NAIL: THE PASO ROBLES CASTLE WINERY

April 19, 2021 7 min read

At Tooth & Nail Winery, we believe you deserve wines and experiences beyond the ordinary. This extends to our Paso Robles castle tasting room, which is renowned as one of the most distinctive destinations in the world of wine. 

Naturally, we often get asked about the origins and inspirations behind our castle architecture. Join us as we delve deeper into the story of this place we call home—the Paso Robles castle winery. 

A Castle in California

Tooth & Nail Winery is a castle in California that resides in the heart of the Paso Robles wine country. 

The castle was sturdily built from the ground up with fine imported stone and wood. The experience begins at the front gates and continues into the castle, which features art and decor that capture the vibe of Tooth & Nail Winery. A spacious tasting room and outdoor terraces reveal expansive Paso Robles views, all alongside our working winery and vineyard.

In spring of 2021, we are excited to launch our new Friday Night Dinner series every week at 6 p.m. Executive Chef Ashley Reese will dazzle you with a menu of Grilled Tomahawk Steak, Twin Australian Lobster Tails and more. 

Live music is also back at the castle. Join us every Friday for live music from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with wine and food served until 7 p.m. The castle also stays open late until 8 p.m. every Saturday starting on March 20. 

To make an appointment for tastings, tours and events, just visit our reservations page and let us take it from there. We also invite you to become a Tooth & Nail insider by subscribing to our newsletter for 15% off your first order, sneak peeks at new wines, and more good stuff. Just sign up at the bottom of our home page.

Origin Story:Eagle Castle Winery

Truth be told, however, we did not erect the castle ourselves. That honor goes to our predecessor at this property—Eagle Castle Winery. 

Former Paso Robles mayor and local businessman Gary Stemper acquired this property in 1999 along with his wife Mary Lou Stemper. Together, they built their castle tasting room and event center, complete with moat and drawbridge. It was one of the many Paso Robles wineries that helped drive our region’s explosive growth in the early 2000s. 

Unfortunately, there was no fairytale ending for Eagle Castle Winery. By 2012, the Stempers decided to wind it all down and put the property up for sale. Eagle Castle Winerywas no more, but their Paso Robles castle wineryitself would endure and later thrive in the hands of a winegrower-turned-winemaker named Rob Murray—the innovative founder of Tooth & Nail Winery.

The Advent ofTooth & Nail Winery

Tooth & Nail Winery owner Rob Murray grew up in the Central Valley town of Corcoran, where his family farmed cotton, corn, alfalfa, almonds, pistachios and grapes. 

With farming in his blood, he studied agriculture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, intending to ultimately return to the family enterprise. Instead, he developed a passionate interest in viticulture, starting in vineyard management and progressing to vineyard ownership. 

He started Tooth & Nail Winery in the late 2000s. Since day one, Rob has been the driving force behind Tooth & Nail’s rebellious mindset and innovative ways.

In 2014, Rob acquired the former Eagle Castle Wineryproperty, and now the Paso Robles castle winerywas the sole province of Tooth & Nail. Rob immediately set out to make the castle his own, outfitting it with edgy art and other décor that fit the Tooth & Nail Winerysensibility.

Renamed from Tolliver Ranch Winery

Rob’s family of wine brands first flew under the moniker of Tolliver Ranch Winery, or Tolliver Ranch Brands, named after one of his vineyards. 

These included Tooth & Nail, Amor Fati and Stasis, and the company banner would later become Tooth & Nail Winery. Confused? Don’t be—if you every see a reference to Tolliver Ranch Winery, just consider it a precursor name to Tooth & Nail Winery.

A New Era inPaso Robles Wineries

Fast forward to today, where Tooth & Nail is helping spearhead a new era in Paso Robles wineries. 

Winemaking in Paso Robles dates back to the mid 1800s, when Zinfandel vines were planted by some of the region’s pioneers. By the late 1960s and 1970s, there were the first rumblings of a modern fine wine industry in Paso Robles. 

However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that Paso Robles really took off, and within a decade it had become renowned as an up-and-coming region with world-class potential. Today, that potential has been realized, and the “up and coming” label no longer applies. Paso Robles has arrived. 

Our Paso Robles castle wineryhas been a proud player in the ascent of Paso Robles to world-class status. Our wines have racked up continual critical acclaim, and Tooth & Nail has become synonymous with innovation. 

In 2019, Rob Murray was one of just five nominees for “Innovator of The Year” for Wine Enthusiast’s annual Wine Star Awards. The magazine noted that Rob “has pushed the technological envelope in sales and marketing like no other.” It continued that our labels “have astonished consumers of all ages,” adding that “Murray’s company has also begun accepting cryptocurrency for its wine.”

“We…challenge the status quo, throwing out the rule book of wine as we know it in order to express freedom,” Rob told Wine Enthusiast. “This philosophy and mindset are at the heart of who we are.”

The Brands of Tooth & Nail Wine Company

Tooth & Nail Wine Company is a family of three distinct brands: Amor Fati, Stasis and Tooth & Nail, all of which are made here at our Paso Robles castle winery. 

Amor Fati are “once-in-a-lifetime” wines. Highly coveted and made in small batches, these are varietal wines whose vision is purity without compromise. The fruit is selected from our best rows, from the greatest vineyards, then vinified with care and imagination. Amor Fati is Latin for “love of one’s fate.”

Stasis wines express “the elegance of the elements.” These cool-climate masterpieces come from Murmur Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, located just 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Stasis wines are broad in texture, suggestive of minerality, and balanced in weight and acidity. Stasis is “a state of equilibrium.”

Tooth & Nail wines are “the fruits of our labor.” These are wines of intensity, made that way by the arduous conditions of Paso Robles. Each year, we fight the good fight and harvest a multitude of lots. Then begins a long process of maturation and barrel selection, ultimately producing powerful blends that do justice to the struggle they incited.

Tooth & Nail wines include the original “Audubon” series of blends with label artwork featuring the works of naturalist John James Audubon, as well as the new “Squad” series of edgy yet approachable varietal wines launching in the spring of 2021.

The People & Place of our Paso Robles Castle Winery

Our Paso Robles castle wineryresides in the Willow Creek District AVA of Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast. Willow Creek is a small district in the path of cool marine air that flows through the Templeton Gap, a notch in the coastal mountains. The soils at the Tooth & Nail vineyard are composed of mixed limestone and clay. Tooth & Nail Wineryalso sources grapes from other Paso Robles vineyards that are under our viticultural control—enabling us to grow the fruit to our exacting specifications and to build natural complexity into our wines.  

While it may be hard to believe, our estate occupies an uplifted ancient sea bed—the soils here are riddled with whale bones, mollusks and other ocean fossils.

Our wines are made under the guidance of Director of Winemaking Jeremy Leffert at our Paso Robles castle winery. Jeremy leans toward the philosophical and is ever alert to avoid “the dominance of the winemaker’s hand.” With that in mind, he views himself as a shepherd as much as a maker. “My approach is to treat everything with such care that the voice of the vineyard shines through the wine,” he says. “It’s all about respecting nature’s intent.”

Jeremy grew up in Edina, Minnesota, where he spent summers backpacking along the Superior trail and canoeing in the Boundary waters. Jeremy has been an avid guitarist since childhood and lives in Templeton with his wife Melissa and two awesome dogs, Paco and Ernesto. Jeremy relocated to California after completing his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont.

After moving to Santa Barbara, he discovered wine and felt particularly drawn to the surrounding vineyards—inspiring him to earn a Masters in Crop Science with a focus in Viticulture at Cal Poly. He worked at a few other Paso Robles wineriesbefore joining Tooth & Nail Winery. 

Under Jeremy’s guidance, we were early advocates of lower-alcohol wines that are elegant yet still powerful and expressive. Jeremy employs several unique methodologies, such as fermenting red wines in small open-top barrels, conducting native yeast fermentations and making wine in alternative vessels, such as concrete eggs and large oak foudres.

Visit OurPaso Robles Castle Winery

Come visit our Paso Robles castle winery anytime, our tasting room is open daily, and we host dinners, events and live music throughout the year. Stay tuned at our Events Calendar.

You can also come out for our “Vines to Wines” tasting tour. This illuminating two-hour tour weaves through our vines, leads you into our barrel cellar and concludes with a behind-the-scenes look at our iconic castle—all while you taste some of our most coveted releases. This is one winery tour you’ll never forget!

Also, we pledge 1% of net profits to 1% for The Planet—a global initiative to address the most pressing issues on Earth. We are passionately moving toward sustainable practices, both in the vineyard and at the winery.

Now you know the full story of Tooth & Nail, one of the Paso Robles wineries you won’t want to miss during your next visit to California’s Central Coast. We look forward to seeing you here!