In 1961, with the name Hoffman Mountain Ranch, Dr. Stanley Hoffman and his illustrious winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff began one of the first modern wineries in Paso Robles. In a 1979 Paris wine competition, the 1975 Hoffman Mountain Ranch Pinot Noir placed third in the world in a comparative tasting of 330 wines from 33 countries. Their Pinot Noir beat Romanee-Conti in Europe thus securing a place in wine making history. In 2005 Richard & Aurora decided to purchase the property and with great anticipation of their new adventure, started a boutique winery business on this rich-history property. They named it Thunderbolt Junction Winery. The name Thunderbolt was chosen based on their vineyard in Wisconsin.
The name changed to Twilight Cellars in 2010 but the dedication to craft wine is the same as when Dr. Hoffman and Andre Tchelistcheff began.
Twilight Cellars moved from Paso Robles in December 2012 after selling their property to a neighboring Winery in need of expanding their vineyards. Richard & Aurora had come to realize that Twilight Cellars needed to "stand out" and in the Paso Robles AVA with their unprecedented growth were not getting the attention needed. This most unique Winery was just getting lost among the grandiose neighboring wineries. The high Yelp ratings, Visitor's Guide ratings and others were outstanding, but people just had a difficult time finding their boutique winery.
Today, Twilight Cellars is located in the hills of San Juan Bautista on a five acre lot. It will re-open the Tasting & Hospitality Center in the next few months and will continue the same quality of wines as in Paso Robles. Twilight Cellars will keep the same fruit contracts with the Paso Robles growers as before, and plant new vines at the new location. In addition it will add a small professional kitchen to provide you with new food pairings to complement their exquisite wines. Twilight Cellars will offer Rhone varietals (Syrah, Mourvedre, Rhone blends), Bourdeax varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Alsatian Muscat) and Mundo Viejo and Rapture, exquisitely made Ports.
Richard, a former I.T. consultant, started a small vineyard in the Lake Wisconsin AVA as a hobby. He grew Marechal Foch grapes for Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. Bob Wollersheim encouraged Richard to pursue his new hobby which later became a true labor of love. Aurora, a former pharmaceutical Representative did food and wine pairings as a hobby later specializing by attending several seminars on the 'specifics' of wine pairings.
If you are wondering about the thunderbolts, fifteen years ago Richard's vineyard in Wisconsin got struck by Lightning. Not once, not twice, but three times in the first season. Thunderstorms are not common here in California, but the Midwest has it's share of them. So Richard came up with the name Thunderbolt for his vineyard when he started selling his fruit to Wollersheim Winery down the street. So if you ever visit his old vineyard, watch out on a blustery day for those lightning bolts. Here at Twilight Cellars follow the Red Thunderbolt signs to the Tasting Room. [1.] Gault Millau magazine (Oct 1979)