Kukkula Wines
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Our Story

kukku­la (kook-koo-luh), Finnish for the hill, or high place”

We are organic dry-farmers.

The dream start­ed around 1990, the time we built our first home in Topan­ga, Cal­i­for­nia. It was then I became some­what infat­u­at­ed with wine. I was already inter­est­ed in farm­ing, and the 2 12 acres we pur­chased pro­vid­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dig my heels in the dirt. Lit­tle did I real­ize where it would lead!

After sev­er­al years of base­ment wine­mak­ing and farm­ing an acre and a half of vines, I con­vinced Paula to come with me to explore Paso. That was the fall of 2003. On that first trip, we dis­cov­ered the Ade­lai­da com­mu­ni­ty and were instant­ly tak­en by its rugged beauty.

So, in Decem­ber of 2004 we moved to the Cen­tral Coast and start­ed the process of build­ing our home, win­ery, vine­yard, and olive orchard.

Because our ter­roir is so sim­i­lar to the Rhône region of France, we are Rhône-cen­tric. Oth­er than Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, we grow Syrah, Grenache, Mourve­dre, Counoise, Petite Sir­ah, Viog­nier, Rous­sanne, and Grenache Blanc.

We believe the hard work is done in the vine­yard. And, if we main­tain this dis­ci­pline, farm organ­i­cal­ly and with­out irri­ga­tion, we will cre­ate wines of intense aro­mat­ics, fla­vors, and col­or, that are a true expres­sion of place, and the essence of our unique terroir.

We believe that if we’ve farmed well, there is lit­tle need to inter­vene in the cellar. 

All of our fer­men­ta­tions use native yeasts. Our red blends are nev­er fined or fil­tered. We only make blends from estate fruit and don’t adhere to con­ven­tion­al notions and trends. Rather, curios­i­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty dic­tate what goes into our final blends.

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The Team

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Hav­ing no for­mal edu­ca­tion in wine­mak­ing, Kevin has made up for it by read­ing a lot of books, farm­ing, mak­ing (and cer­tain­ly con­sum­ing!) a lot of wine in the last thir­ty years. He start­ed mak­ing wine in 1992 in the base­ment of the Topan­ga, Cal­i­for­nia home that he and Paula built in 1990. 

In 1996, he plant­ed a half acre of Syrah on their Topan­ga prop­er­ty. With­in a year that was expand­ed to 1 12 acres and ulti­mate­ly, he start­ed a small bond­ed win­ery called Jus­si­la Vine­yard. A lot of buzz fol­lowed, and he fool­ish­ly start­ed dream­ing about get­ting far more serious.

In 2004, the Jus­si­las dove in and moved the fam­i­ly to Paso Rob­les with the pur­chase of 80 acres on Chim­ney Rock Road in the Ade­lai­da area. The prop­er­ty was most­ly plant­ed with mature wal­nut trees, and a small slice of Caber­net (own root­ed and irri­gat­ed). Since mov­ing north they’ve built a home on the prop­er­ty, built the wine pro­duc­tion facil­i­ty and tast­ing room, plant­ed a vine­yard and olive orchard.

Kevin’s all-con­sum­ing pas­sion for this project is obvi­ous when you vis­it kukku­la. He farms 54 acres of vines, doing a major­i­ty of the trac­tor work, har­vest­ing, mak­ing the wines, and mar­ket­ing the wines. Most days you’ll find him in the tast­ing room, where you can wit­ness this passion.

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Paula (Schwab) Jus­si­la worked for 25 years in adver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing in Los Ange­les before start­ing kukku­la with her hus­band (and wine­mak­er), Kevin Jus­si­la in 2004. She pri­mar­i­ly helps out on the busi­ness side of the win­ery, focus­ing on mar­ket­ing, PR, event plan­ning, and over­all macro deci­sions for kukku­la. Beyond that, she is the chief errand offi­cer, in addi­tion to keep­ing track of the Jus­si­la kids. You can often find her in the tast­ing room on week­ends and dri­ving all over the Cen­tral Coast on the weekdays.

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Nikki Carter

Wine club and tast­ing room manager

Nik­ki joined the kukku­la team in Octo­ber of 2014 after years of vol­un­teer­ing in the wine indus­try. She moved to Cal­i­for­nia from Penn­syl­va­nia in 2002, met her hus­band in LA, and land­ed in Paso Rob­les in 2005. She has always been inter­est­ed in expand­ing her knowl­edge of many inter­ests, includ­ing wine, and Paso was the per­fect place for that to come togeth­er. She has a BS in Fash­ion Design with a minor in Fash­ion Illus­tra­tion, and is an avid dog lover with three res­cue pups and two cats. She is also pas­sion­ate about health and well­ness, has pur­sued a health coach­ing cer­tifi­cate and is a cer­ti­fied Pilates instructor.