John Munch, Co-owner, Wine Herd/Winemaker & Elliptical Pontificator. The origins of Le Cuvier's original winemaker & co-owner harken to another land & time. While out crabbing, the Chupete Indians of Costa Rica found Munch, a toothless toddler, amongst mosquitoes & mangrove roots in the littoral swamps of the Caribbean coast. The particulars of his birth & lineage remain unclear. In his formative years, it is said, Munch was taken from the Chupete tribe by a missionary dragline operator & his wife, & variously educated in secular & missionary schools throughout Central America. He ultimately completed his education in California, where he almost acquired a post-graduate degree in early West-Saxon poetry.
Munch has gained a fine reputation as founder & winemaker of several failed winery operations in the Paso Robles area, & with partner Mary Fox, he now persists in running Le Cuvier winery. As Wine Herd, Munch sees his role as shepherd to the "feral beasties" that accompany the finest fruit from the finest vineyard into the winery, allowing grapes to interact and ferment in their own natural state, free of intervention from such effete constructs as commercial strains of yeast. Providing the right musical sound track to enhance this ideal environment appears to be his only useful contribution to the winemaking process.
Mary Fox, Co-owner, Doctor of Organizational Psychology, President, CFO, & Omnipotent Organizer. Mary was researching the possibility of investing in vineyard property on California’s Central Coast in 2000 when she serendipitously engaged Munch as consultant for her project. She soon became entrapped by the glamour & deeply refined complexity of the Le Cuvier operation, & shortly thereafter joined Munch as an equal partner in the winery. In addition to her considerable professional skills, Dr. Fox also brought much needed cash to the partnership. She appears to have found a life project in her new association, where she now applies all her energies in an attempt to create organizational order.
Favorite Variety: Depends on the food.
Clay Selkirk, Head Winemaker. Clay joined Le Cuvier in February 2013. He comes from winemaking stock - his family owns & operates Cayucos Cellars, where Clay toiled in all aspects of the business before we lured him to our hilltop winery. He is uniquely familiar with Le Cuvier wines, as the Selkirks engage in similar winemaking practices at Cayucos Cellars - native yeast fermentation & extended barrel aging, most notably. In addition to managing cellar operations, Clay often represents Le Cuvier at events, does the vast majority of our manual labor, and provides lots of feedback on our food pairing creations. He really likes that part of the job.
Favorite Variety: Grenache.
Sean Walter, Assistant Winemaker. Sean is a Paso Robles local, who loves beer brewing, outdoor activities (snowboarding, camping, hiking), beekeeping and gardening, in addition to his new dream job – winemaking. He will be helping create an onsite vegetable and herb garden at Le Cuvier and plans on blessing the garden with a bee hive fashioned from an old wine barrel. He is an attendee of the Johnson & Wales University in Colorado, and will be assisting Chef John during slow production times and busy weekends. His laugh brightens your day and his positive attitude will definitely appear in any bottle made at Le Cuvier from here on.
His favorite part in the winemaking process is harvest.
Favorite local restaurants: Goshi, The Hatch and Kitchenette.
Favorite memory: backpacking through Europe after high school (he says it is the time when he became a man). Corky Trait: extreme sarcasm.
Favorite things about Le Cuvier: 1. he enjoys the job so much, that he doesn’t feel like he is working 2. The hands off approach to winemaking.
Favorite Variety: Petite Sirah
Brenda Greene, Office Manager. Brenda and her husband Robert relocated from the Bay Area in the summer of 2016 after 20+ years in the corporate world. They fell in love with Paso while passing through from Northern CA to Southern CA (who doesn’t) and bought a slice of Central Coast heaven on the east side of Paso back in 2003. Brenda brings her passion for wine, as well as a solid head for business and numbers, to Le Cuvier. She stumbled upon us early in her job search following her move to the area, and feels fortunate to have landed such an amazing opportunity. Brenda likes to get out from under the numbers and loves to venture out into the tasting room as often as possible to mix and mingle with our Le Cuvier guests. She also dabbles in winemaking, and is using Le Cuvier winemakers John Munch and Clay Selkirk as her mentors to “take a walk on the wild side” as she begins making her own Le Cuvier style Syrah from the small vineyard that she owns with husband, Rob.
Hobbies: Brenda loves to entertain and experiment with unique “high test” cocktail concoctions. Favorite part of the winemaking process: pressing.
Favorite local restaurants: Thomas Hill Organics, Fish Gaucho, Allegreto.
Favorite memory: first night in New Orleans. Corky Trait: meditation.
Favorite things about Le Cuvier: 1. Chrysos 2. The people that she works with.
Favorite Variety:White and Red Rhone Blends
Mika Toke, Wine Club and Social Media Manager. Born and raised in Transylvania, the land of vampires which, for good reason, also has one of the highest per capita consumption of red wine in the world. Mika moved to the US (Los Angeles) in late 2003 with a struggling vocabulary (now clearly overcome) and a passion for learning. In 2005 she moved to San Luis Obispo in order to learn by doing at Cal Poly SLO, and her passion quickly migrated to the local wine industry in the early months of 2009. At Le Cuvier, Mika enjoys the dynamics of the tasting room floor, having an onsite commercial kitchen and pairings to brag about, as well as the fabulous hilltop view.
Hobbies: Art, Sea Glass Collecting, Rainbow Hunting
Favorite part of the winemaking process: barrel fermentation.
Favorite local restaurants: Goshi, Luna Red, Robin’s
Favorite memory: picking Tannat from a local vineyard in the Adelaida AVA
Corky Trait: cooking too much food and expecting everyone else to eat it
Favorite things about Le Cuvier: 1. The wine 2. The view and tasting room décor
Favorite Variety: Cabernet Franc
Diane Flores-Duffy, Sales & Wine Club Manager. Diane is essentially on her third tour of duty with Le Cuvier. She returned to the winery in March 2016 after a harrowing 14-month-long medical absence, from which she recovered with the help of the winery & its generous members. Most importantly, she returned to Le Cuvier with all her wits intact, thus eminently qualifying her for employment at Le Cuvier. Diane first joined the staff back in 2004 as wine club administrator, but efficiently worked herself out of a job when the Elliptical Society filled up. She never really disappeared, though, volunteering for events & shamelessly promoting Le Cuvier while pursuing other opportunities in the wine world. In late 2009, John & Mary realized a need for more proselytizing, & knew Diane’s previous life as a journalist, coupled with her passion for wine & words, would be a good match for the tasting room. She was engaged in all manner of promoting Le Cuvier & tending to its club members when she was knocked out by the aforementioned medical emergency. So here she is once more, nurturing care of the esteemed Elliptical Society membership & singing the praises of our wines to whoever will listen.
Favorite Variety: A good wine.
Mo Colwell, Winery Concierge. Mo came aboard in December 2010 to lead sales at Le Cuvier. Mo’s early exposure to Le Cuvier was “word of mouth” enthusiasm expressed by Elliptical Society members whom she met along her wine sharing journeys. Mo has extensive experience in business & sales - & wears the accessories to show it. She cites her energetic personality as key to her success. She moved to Paso Robles from Lake Tahoe in 2006 & immediately immersed herself in the wine business, at an especially hectic & crowd-luring tasting room. Le Cuvier’s intimate, members-based emphasis, in contrast, has presented her with unique & exciting challenges. Even in a cavernous, chilly barrel room, Mo manages to warm up every visitor to the Le Cuvier experience. We know you'll find her irresistible.
Favorite Variety: Cabernet Franc.
Lea Banks, Tasting Room Manager. Native to the Central Coast, Lea joined our winery family in February 2016. Sharing a passion for drinks of all types, Lea first entered the beverage industry as a Shift Lead at Joebella Coffee Roasters. After prepping coffee for Paso’s finest—including several Le Cuvier employees—Lea made the leap to wine. Managing a team proved easy after growing up with four younger brothers. She further exhibited her leadership skills at both Doce Robles and Veris Cellars before moving to Le Cuvier. Known for her quick wit and laidback style, Lea is a natural people person who’s at her best on the tasting room floor. Beneath that sweet exterior, an incredibly savvy saleswoman awaits you!
Favorite Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon.
John Menges, Chef. A recent addition to the family, Chef John came aboard April of 2016. Because he shares a name with our illustrious Wine Herd, he is known to answer to numerous and mostly nonsensical nicknames, including "CJ," to "JJ," "Chef," "Cheffity Chef," and "Mike." John has made his mark at various Central Coast and Bay Area Restaurants including the Black Cat Bistro and Cass House Cayucos. While he briefly retired from cooking to run a gardening business, we successfully lured John back into the professional kitchen. Always clad in his chef coat, John is a formidable force at the chopping block and in the tasting room. Come by and try his homemade pairings, made fresh daily.
Favorite Variety: Depends on the food.
Brent Keast, Tasting Room Host. Brent has an MFA from the School of Performing Arts from USC. His last career was in Southern California where he taught college, managed a few studios and acted in film, stage, commercials, TV and soaps. His life-long passion has been wine, wine and more wine – both tasting and making. He especially enjoys talking about wine with our tasting room patrons. He has ben a club member at Le Cuvier for 17 years. His favorite local restaurants are Buona Tavola, Artisan and Bistro Laurent.
Favorite memory: Traveling from one B&B to the next B&B in England.
Favorite part of winemaking: Fermentation.
Favorite Variety: White Burgundy
David O'Leary, Tasting Room Host. After several years of working in the world of sales training, David retired to Paso Robles, where he has spent the past eight years working in local tasting rooms. He joined the Le Cuvier staff in spring 2013 & quickly earned the nickname "Taz," as in Tasmanian Devil. His take-charge energy, as well as his thirst for wine knowledge, is sure to leave an indelible impression on you.
Favorite Variety: Zinfandel.
Miranda Thompson, Tasting Room Host. A hardcore Le Cuvier fan, Miranda joined the Elliptical Society before joining our staff. She assists in our tasting room on weekends, while teaching Special Education full-time at San Luis Obispo High School. Miranda and her husband, Jeremy, purchased a ranch in the San Miguel area, where they grow their own produce, raise chickens for eggs, and hope to plant Malbec some day. In her rare spare time, Miranda teaches archery and studies for the Level 1 Sommelier Exam.
Favorite Variety: Mourvedre.