Tolenas Joins the Certified Craft Wine Movement

Tolenas Vineyards and Winery

Lisa Howard and her husband, Cliff, are the masterminds behind the Suisun Valley’s, Tolenas Vineyards and Winery. As second-generation winemakers and local farmers, the Howards have a deeply rooted, vested interest in not only crafting quality wine but also representing Suisun Valley with integrity.

Growing up as a farmer’s daughter in Suisun Valley, Lisa Howard witnessed firsthand the struggles her parents endured to reap their rewards. Yet as Lisa and husband, Cliff, began adding to their family, she knew raising their kids the same way she had been raised was the only way for them. After nearly a decade of living away from Northern California’s wine country, Lisa and Cliff moved their family back to Lisa’s hometown just outside of Fairfield, CA and set out to make farming and winemaking their way of life.

Winemaking is in Her Blood

The daughter of Steve and Linda Tenbrink, owners of Tenbrink Vineyards, Lisa grew up helping her parents on the family farm. After attending university at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she majored in Agricultural Engineering, Lisa moved to Arizona to work as a water resource specialist. She would later meet her husband, Cliff, a police officer originally from Michigan, and together return annually to assist her family during harvest season at Tenbrink Vineyards. It was during these visits back to her wine country roots the Howards began looking for property in Suisun Valley to pursue their dreams of becoming craft winemakers.

Initially, Lisa and Cliff felt compelled to help her parents grow the Tenbrink Vineyards business but much to their surprise, her parents insisted they begin cultivating their own label. It was this loving and supportive push that sealed the deal for the Howards to start investing their efforts into creating their own craft wine.

As their home in Suisun Valley was nearing completion, Lisa stumbled upon an old deed from the 19th century. While looking over the deed, Lisa noticed the property had been listed as Lot #38 of Rancho Tolenas, a subdivision of the Mexican land grants, covering Napa and Solano counties. Wanting to remain true to the spirit of the land and the rich history of Suisun Valley’s rustic wine country, the Howards appropriately adopted “Tolenas” for their label’s namesake.

Remaining True to Suisun Valley Wine Country

For Lisa and Cliff, naming their label after the land’s original name was not enough in terms of showcasing their wine region.

Their mission is to capture the land, the history and hard work of the people in the fruit they grow and use to make their wine. With every season, these principles take precedence, and their efforts are apparent in each harvest.

For the Howards, it is imperative to achieve these ideals through the wine, which is why they choose to practice the art of natural wine making and oversee every step the grapes go through from the vineyard to the winery. They simply allow the fruit to speak for itself and the spirit of Suisun Valley while also bringing long overdue recognition to the area farmers and local winemakers.

Tolenas Wines and Where to Find Them

The Howards have been fortunate enough to have incredible, supportive mentors from the winemaking community. They have grown their label from their first release of the beloved 2015 Red Blend (50% Petite Sirah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Tempranillo), to include a 2017 White Pinot Noir Eclipse, 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and 2017 Rose of Petite Sirah.

As the founders of Tolenas wines continue to practice their craft winemaking, they are motivated by excellence and the philosophy that “nothing is worth doing if you don’t do it right.” And so far they have!

For now, Tolenas wines can be enjoyed by purchasing online through their website or pop open a bottle with them during one of their wine release parties!

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