From the Ground Up
Happy New Year! May it be filled with happy moments and an occasional glass of Lucas & Lewellen wine! This will be the 50th year since I planted my first vine in Santa Barbara County. Growing grapes hasn’t changed too much since then but each year’s experience has added to a better understanding of the needs of each region. Weather, soil, and care still dictates what kind of grapes we grow, and ultimately what kind of wine we make.
We started pruning the week before Christmas and should continue until mid-March. Pruning is one of the most important determinants of crop quality, canopy development, and even the longevity of our vines. Megan and the winery crew are busy barreling down and moving wines around to make room for the new vintage and planning for future bottlings on some previous vintages.
2018 Sauvignon Blanc: This is the highest scoring Sauvignon Blanc we have ever made. It scored 90 points in Wine Enthusiast and was selected by Notre Dame University among many entries to feature in their ND Family of Wines label. There are 39 wineries that participate in the competition. A few years ago, we started blending Los Alamos Sauvignon Blanc with our Valley View Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. The combination of the two gives us both cool and warm weather grapes, which adds to the complexity of the wine. Santa Ynez is more austere with minerality and Los Alamos is more fruity with apricot and grassiness.
2017 Five+One: This goofy guy had an idea. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wanted to co-ferment all five Bordeaux varieties with emphasis on Cabernet and add a splash of Carménère. Of course, that is why we called this Five+One. Getting all five varieties ripe on the same day was a challenge. Carménère was a Bordeaux variety a long time ago. It is no longer grown in Bordeaux but cuttings were sent to Chile and mixed up with Merlot. Only recently have they been able to distinguish between the varieties. Four years ago we planted more than 2,000 vines and this wine contains the first barrel from our vineyard. Our goal eventually is to make a single variety Carménère and that may happen with the 2018 vintage, but certainly with the 2019 vintage. Carménère adds deep color and jamminess to a blend, and it ripens at lower sugar levels for less alcohol. This wine has not been released and won’t be released for at least six more months but we have decided to let our club members experience it. Because it is young, if you drink it now, you should decant it. Give it a few hours of air before drinking to give it a chance to open up. I plan to discuss this wine with those of you attending our get together in Wickenburg, Arizona next month. We are looking forward to including our club members in the evolution of this variety.
We hope to see you in Wickenburg, and if not, pray for rain!