' Alta Maria Vineyards - Paul Wilkins, Winemaker
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Paul Wilkins, Winemaker

Third-generation California farmer Paul Wilkins came to the Central Coast from the San Joaquin Valley to attend Cal Poly University.  Studying Fruit Science with a concentration in Viticulture, Paul worked concurrently for Pacific Vineyard Company and Edna Valley Vineyards in the field, cellar and tasting room.  The following year, Paul accepted a harvest internship to work in the cellar with John Alban at Alban Vineyards, where he was eventually hired full time and promoted to Assistant Winemaker – all before graduating in 1998.

Paul remained with Alban through seven celebrated vintages before opening his own agency, Wilkins Vinotech, which provides winery and vineyard consulting services to existing and start-up wine brands. In 2005, he joined in a business partnership with longtime friend James Ontiveros (owner of Pinot Noir house, Native9) as Winemaker for Alta Maria Vineyards, which focuses on Santa Maria Valley-designate Burgundy varieties.

In 2010, Paul débuted his own Rhône-focused brand with varietal wines and cuvées from contrasting sites throughout California. The brand name, AUTØNØM, refers to Paul’s freedom from a long history of working for other producers.  The following year, Paul and James Ontiveros opened a much-anticipated joint tasting room for AUTØNØM, Alta Maria Vineyards and Native9 in Los Olivos, California.

Since 1997, Paul has been partially or solely responsible for the production of over 60 critically-acclaimed wines reviewed by Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, International Wine Cellar, Burghound, Rhône Report, Wine & Spirits and The Los Angeles Times. In 2011, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Editor Jon Bonné named Paul, along with James Ontiveros, as one of five “Winemakers to Watch.”

2014 marks Paul’s 19th vintage.

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