The Le Cuvier Team

 

John Munch

wine herd, plenipotentiary & 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.

Clay Selkirk

head winemaker & all-around cowboy

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 - wild 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.

 

Mika Toke

resident vampire

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 our fabulous team, the offered guests experiences, 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, Mistura, La Cosecha
  • 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 
  • Favorite Variety: Cabernet Franc
Miranda Thompson

vp of quality control

Miranda is what you might call a hardcore LC fan from way back. She was born and raised in Paso Robles and has been enjoying Le Cuvier wines from the moment she reached legal drinking age, and absolutely no sooner. Her in-laws were longtime Le Cuvier wine club members and friends of our proprietor’s brother, they introduced her to the wines and in 2014 Miranda signed up for the Elliptical society. Some time later, she was tasting at the winery every weekend when one day Mo said, “do you just want to work here?” to which Miranda replied, “is that a choice?”… and the rest is history. Miranda and her husband Jeremy have a small ranch in San Miguel where they live with their three dogs, two goats, and countless chickens. On their land they grow Cabernet Sauvignon and hope to make their own wine one day soon. Miranda is a positive ray of sunshine to all those who cross paths with her. From working in special education for 15 years to spending her summers as the director of programs for Camp Natoma, Miranda has a big heart and lots of love for her home here on the central coast.

  • Hobbies: wine education, archery, being in nature
  • Favorite part of the winemaking process: Quality control, of course!
  • Favorite local restaurants: The Hatch, La Cosecha, Giuseppes
  • Favorite Le Cuvier memory: Library Cab Franc tasting; tasted '05, '09, and '12 vintages and the '05 smelled like the redwood forest floor
  • Corky trait: drinking wine with chickens
  • Favorite variety: depends on what she's eating, though she's partial to Cabernet Franc
Tim Small

qui apporte la joie

While originally being born and raised in Long Beach California, Tim’s family relocated to Paso Robles back in 2005 where he finished his senior year of high school. Not really knowing what clear direction he wanted to take with his career, he joined the United States Navy and served for multiple years. When his service was complete, Tim wanted something laid back and relaxing. He came back to the area and ended up getting his first winery gig working in production, starting his love and passion for the wine industry. Since then, he has not looked back. Wine and food play a huge part in Tim’s life, making Le Cuvier a perfect fit!

  • Hobbies: Reading, Gaming, Surfing, Eating
  • Favorite Part of the Winemaking Process: Feeling the heat off of fermenting grapes
  • Favorite Local Restaurants: The Hatch, The Guest House, Paso Terra
  • Favorite Le Cuvier Memory: My First Day!
  • Corky Trait: Can Recite Harry Potter
  • Favorite Varietal: Furmint​
Rachael Zollo

artiste culinaire & chef

Rachael has a long history working in kitchen environments, from working in the front of house all the way to being a lead cook at a restaurant in Paso Robles. She has had many mentors over the years, one of which is her brother Daniel. Daniel has taught Rachael a lot about the industry and continues to mentor her here at Le Cuvier. In her own words, she brings “lots of weird energy” to our team, and in our words, she is a bundle of laughs and joy. She recently turned 21 and has been having fun experimenting with learning about her palette and how to understand pairing wine with food. Rachael looks forward to continuing to serve our Elliptical society members and guests providing a one of a kind experience only the Zollo culinary team could produce!

  • Hobbies: reading, painting, being a plant mom, cooking for fun
  • Favorite Part of the Winemaking Process: The release of new wines, sitting down with the winemaker and chef and going over the new lineup of wines comparing notes 
  • Favorite Local Restaurants: Giuseppes in SLO, Les Petites Canailles, Mojitos at Pappy McGregors 
  • Favorite Le Cuvier Memory: when she was able to take over as chef for two weeks!
  • Corky Trait: Tyrannosaurus Rach
  • Favorite Variety: Cabernet Franc
Alex Curley

amateur d'alcool

 

In west Atascadero born and raised, 

The central coast is where he's lived most of his days. 

Chillin' out, hiking, camping like a fool,

Even was a boy scout outside of school.

After a couple of years he was doing so good,

Learning at a college in his neighborhood. (Cal Poly SLO)

He loved craft beer, but his mom wasn’t scared.

She said, “One day you’ll like red wine, especially when it's paired.”

Developed his palate with her day after day,

Then he finally made his way to Le Cuvier.

Getting the job was like a golden ticket,

He really liked the wine so he thought “I’ll stick with it.”

Now he’s pouring wine and planning events,

His love for fine wine is truly immense.

One day he’ll do sales and hopefully travel,

But only time will tell how his path shall unravel.

 

Hobbies: Hiking, gaming, movies, karaoke, and wine tasting
Favorite Part of the Winemaking Process: Watching and tasting the wine bubble out of the barrel during fermentation
Favorite Local Restaurants: Buona Tavola, Thomas Hill Organics, Pappy McGregor’s
Favorite Le Cuvier Memory: Our team Christmas party at the winery or singing with the kitchen crew “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys in perfect harmony
Corky Trait: Getting constant goosebumps throughout the day, especially after the first delicious sip of wine 
Favorite Varietal: Grenache all day!

Thomas Cherry

master cellar rat

Thomas was born and raised in the central valley of California. Desperately wanting to explore outside of his comfort zone, he spent 5 years traveling the world in the United States Navy. It was his time spent in Italy that made him fall in love with wine. Upon completion of his tour, he took a harvest internship in Santa Ynez that solidified his passion of winemaking. Wanting to learn everything he could about the winemaking process, Thomas graduated from Cal Poly’s Winemaking program. He began working for Le Cuvier in 2019 and has taken over the role of Assistant Winemaker in 2021. Outside of the winery for him is nothing short of an adventure with his wife, two sons, and four dogs. “Be so busy loving your life that you have no time for hate and regret”

Hobbies: Camping, going to the beach, going to concerts, woodworking
Favorite part of the winemaking process: The fact that there is something different to do at any given point in the year. It’s not the same process day in and day out.
Favorite local restaurants: Su Casa, Oyster Loft (Pismo), Street Side Ale House
Favorite things about Le Cuvier: Any time we celebrate a team member's birthday with a charcuterie platter and wine.
Favorite Variety: Pinot Noir (or Grenache)

Diane Duffy

Diane’s is a recognizable face at Le Cuvier. She has had the honor of working at all three of Le Cuvier’s locations over the years: the original little red farmhouse on Adelaida Road, the rustic barn with its funky blacklight restroom, and finally the Vine Hill home property winers (she dubs ‘the Taj Mahal’). She moved to San Luis Obispo county in pursuit of adventures in her trained profession of journalism, before she and her wine-loving husband became thoroughly distracted by the allure of the region’s wine world (in particular the maverick antics of one Mr. John Munch). During her affiliation with Le Cuvier, she has served as wine club administrator, tasting room host, marketing muse and overall Elliptical pontificator. Now she assists the staff in all aspects of sales, promotion and good will, providing occasional witticisms to the staff and our members. As the longest tenured employee, she knows where the bodies are buried, but pleads the Fifth and changes names to protect the innocent.

Jessica Cerda aka Jessi

double agent - triple threat

Born and raised in the Bay Area (S.T.E.M. central) Jessi (Yessie) got introduced into the wine world while she was pursuing her science interests in a BioMedical course. She questioned whether or not the medical field was the right fit for her as she was coming up on applying for colleges. In this class her teacher brought students in from the College of Agriculture of UC Davis, it was a Viticulture student who fascinated Jessi into researching Enology degrees. This is where she landed herself a place at Cal Poly SLO recently graduating with a Wine and Viticulture Degree concentrating in Enology and a minoring in Ethnic Studies. Desiring more industry experience and needing a production internship position to graduate, Jessi joined Le Cuvier in the Tasting Room and assists during Harvest thus deeming her our “Double Agent” 

 

Hobbies: Going on spontaneous adventures to the beach, watching the sunrise while sipping on fresh coffee, dancing to reggaeton and banda (or any Spanish music tbh) until her feet hurt (even then she doesn’t stop), collecting cool rocks and seashells

 

Favorite Le Cuvier Memory: Alex and Tim having a “dad-joke” competition on National Tell A Joke Day 2021

Favorite Part Of The Winemaking Process: Shoveling the grapes out of the open-top tank fermenters to then be sent to the press

Favorite Local Restaurant: Chili Peppers (SLO)

Corky Trait: Her “I only get one!” hiccup, yes, a single hiccup at any random point in the day with various and ever so differing pitches 

Favorite Varietals: Pinot Gris & Cab Franc

Nolan Rougeot

Native to Paso Robles, Nolan has yet to live anywhere else. With plans to possibly venture out one day, life quickly changed after joining Le Cuvier in June of  2021; an establishment where his love for wine and food blossomed. Aside from the beautiful view atop the hill, pairing wine with food is what really piqued his interest. His love for delectable food bites and passion for cooking directly line up with the mantra of the Le Cuvier kitchen. His aspiration remains to expand his palette and knowledge under the tutelage of Chef Rachael & team. Nolan wishes to continue excelling at executing beautiful, creative & delicious wine pairings which captivate our guests palates and make them delighted to participate in the Le Cuvier experiences.  

 

Hobbies: Driving backroads , exploring nature, cooking for friends

Favorite part of the winemaking process: When going from tank to barrel, you get to taste the winemakers cotton candy (carbonated grape foam)

Favorite Le Cuvier memory:  2022 pickup party, when we get to work on a lot of plates at once as a team 

Corky Trait: Starting a new project, when i haven't even finished my first project

Favorite varietal/wine: Zinfandel & Red Bat

 

Lloyd Herrera

paysagiste et artiste

Fiona Carlsen

now in NY house paparazzi

Fiona is a California grown, organic, locally-sourced college graduate with a degree in Art & Design from Cal Poly SLO. From graduation to travel plans and big NYC dreams, coronavirus has halted many of Fiona’s 2020 aspirations. Like everyone else in the world, Fiona forged an alternate path. She was taken in by her best friend Robin’s family out on a farm in the hills of Adelaida, where she helps out with farm work and hangs out with dogs, cats, goats, chickens, horses, and the occasional cow. The Osgood Family encouraged Fiona to get a job at Le Cuvier, as they have known our winemaker for many years. Fiona started out as a dishwasher in June and has since worked her way up to being a Jack of many trades: resident photographer, videographer, menu maker, and flower girl.

  • Hobbies: watching old movies, laying in the sand, laughing until her stomach hurts, and dancing like a fool
  • Favorite part of the winemaking process: primary fermentation- nothing like the smell of fermenting grapes to make you feel alive
  • Favorite local restaurants: (local to this county) Ziggys (SLO), Robins (Cambria), and Hidden Kitchen (Cayucos)
  • Favorite Le Cuvier memory: glass polishing party to the beat of 80's music with her wonderful coworkers 
  • Corky trait: will photograph anything
  • Favorite Variety: Petite Sirah, obviously!

 

Otis

winery cat & big boss

Otis, affectionately called "Oatie" and "Mr. McFluffers," is the most treasured wild beastie here at Le Cuvier. He saunters around the parking lot, always on a secret mission. What mission you ask? Well he keeps his eyes focused on any open windows in the stagnant vehicles of unsuspecting guests. Once he zeroes in on an open crevice leading into a beautiful SUV, he prepares for the jump. It is there, in the driver's seat of a guest's vehicle that he finds true peace. 

  • Hobbies: Bringing live lizards to tables full of guests who are enjoying a nice lunch, playing with red string, and rolling around in the dirt and stickers
  • Favorite Le Cuvier Memory: A nice basket to sleep in
  • Favorite Local Restaurants: Catnip
  • Corky Trait: Everything