Del Mar

Behind the Bottle: Tobin James Edition

Get the Scoop on the Outside, before Diving In


For this month’s Searsupper Club pairing dinner in Del Mar, guests will sip & swirl their way through the best varietals from popular Paso Robles winemaker, Tobin James.

It’s no surprise that Tobin James Cellars’ wine club, “The James Gang,” has the most members of any wine club in the entire state of California (over 20k!)—their wines are approachable, reliable, and absolutely delicious.

And like any family-owned and operated brand, there are so many fun tid-bits throughout their history that have led them to where they are today—many of which are revealed right in the details of their bottle! Today, we’re taking you behind that seemingly unassuming bottle design to reveal the quirky details that make their label truly unique.

The Cap:


The colors of the cap aren’t just to match the labels; they actually indicate how that particular varietal is classified:

  • Yellow Cap–>Non-reserve. Affordable, approachable, reliable, no-nonsense.
  • Gold Cap–>James Gang Reserve.
  • Red Cap–>Vineyard-Designate, meaning the grapes that made the wine all came from a single vineyard. Also includes blends!
  • Silver Cap–>Lance Silver Reserve. Lance Silver is the other winemaker at Tobin James, and has been Tobin’s business partner since 1996.
  • Blue Cap–>”Blue Moon” Collection. As the name indicates, these wines are only available once in a blue moon and are extremely limited release.

The Logo:


The familiar illustration of the Tobin James Cellars logo was actually designed by a Cal Poly student back in the 1980’s, looking to design a wine label for his senior project. Tobin had just one request: “I want the sun setting over the hills of Paso Robles.”

The Winemaker:

Tobin James was the original winemaker at another familiar winery, Peachy Canyon. He put his name—and Paso Robles—on the map, when the very first wine he made won a spot on the coveted “top 100” wines of the year with the Wine Spectator. It wasn’t until 1993, after numerous gold medals and scores of 90+ on his wines, that Tobin decided to build his own winery on highway 46 east of Paso Robles.


But please, as an insider, he wants you to call him Toby!

The Region:


You’ll notice that many of the wines come from different regions. While they DO grow their own grapes right in Paso Robles (and you’ll find Paso Robles-specific varietals across their Reserve labels), the winery buys and blends from vineyards all over the region. This ensures that a consistent, balanced product can be made year after year, allowing Tobin James Cellars to be the likeable, reliable household name that we so adore.


Now that you’ve got the scoop on the outside, uncork your favorite varietal and explore all there is to offer on the inside!