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Nathan Carlson, GM and Winemaker of Center of Effort Wine, Reflects on a Decade of Work in the Edna Valley


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July 22, 2020-San Luis Obispo, CA– Nathan Carlson, GM and Winemaker of Center of Effort Wine reflects on a decade of work in the Edna Valley.

Nathan Carlson joined Center of Effort in June, 2010 when the winery was under the new ownership of Bill and Cheryl Swanson. At his previous job, he oversaw winemaking for multiple brands in multiple facilities, and sourced grapes from growers from Lake County to Santa Barbara.  

Carlson’s career has led him to make wine throughout the Central Coast, Sonoma and Napa Valley. After a brief stint in Oregon, he was drawn back to the Edna Valley, a place that Nathan knows and appreciates. Working with COE gave him the chance to be involved (almost from the beginning) with a new winery. Carlson learned quickly that the new owners were committed to quality and connecting with customers. 

Now, after a decade of working with Center of Effort Wine, time seems to have passed quickly. “As I think back, we have accomplished so much in that time. Our wines have found a rhythm, we understand the estate and the land, and we have begun to make adjustments based on our deep knowledge of the beautiful property that is Center of Effort (COE),” explains Nathan.

After years of working broadly with vineyards and growers across the state, this was clearly an opportunity to develop a deep understanding of one single estate location; maximizing quality and efficiency from the existing vines and implementing solutions that made sense.

There were challenges ahead, and new wineries can be filled with uncertainty. “I had experience working with fruit from the established vines on this property. I knew that there was potential for excellence here, if the details were attended to carefully. In particular, I knew there would be growth and learning through working with COE’s new owner, Bill Swanson,” says Carlson. 

In working with the vineyards and wines, Nathan tried to understand what exists naturally, and draw on that strength rather than imposing any particular style on the fruit. “At Center of Effort, we make authentic wines that tell a story of our place and our people. I’m proud that we share that story and our wines with genuine hospitality and connection,” says Carlson.

Over the past decade, COE has been constantly building and developing, upgrading facility and winery equipment and implementing sustainable practices that are essential to COE’s vision of respectful vineyard stewardship. From 2011, COE enrolled in an audited sustainability program (SIP) that has been a useful metric to measure our longer-term goals for the vineyard and the business.

COE’s close connection with California Polytechnic University and their Wine and Viticulture department has grown and bloomed to become a development ground for amazing talent that is moving into the industry.  

“The Edna Valley AVA is a fairly small region. Though their voice may not seem as loud as others, COE’s wines (from the Edna Valley) tend toward elegance and longevity at their best. 

“Members of our industry who have a broad understanding of the world of wine appreciate the quality potential and ascendency of the wines. I look forward to continuing to tell the story of why COE is special and look forward to developing Center of Effort’s special strengths,” adds Nathan.

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