From the Ground Up
We can’t be starting the third month of the year because the first two lasted about three days! We already have bud break taking place. It’s not extensive but it requires us to be prepared for the frost which we’ve seen for the past four nights with lows of 28°F. We’ve had to protect a couple of blocks in Los Alamos and one in Santa Ynez. Normally we use water to protect the vines but, as we all know, the water is limited these days. This year we are trying a couple of new things to see if they work for frost protection; a wind machine and pull-type vehicles that go behind a tractor and expel air 130 feet in both directions. You weave through the field taking swaths of 20 rows at a time. One machine is supposed to be able to protect 20 acres. An added feature to these machines is that they could be used to warm the vines during bloom to help avoid poor fruit set when it gets too cold. We’re looking forward to seeing what else we can do to protect the vineyard.
The Valley View Vineyard continues to receive accolades for our Bordeaux grapes in the form of recent Gold Medal awards for 2011 vintage Cabernet Franc, Valley View Cabernet, and Cote Del Sol. Our 2012 vintage looks even better with a very good growing season for the grapes and the addition of new oak barrels.
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon “Valley View”: This wine is the fulfillment of the goal that we set when we discovered that the Valley View Vineyard was an exceptional place for Cabernet Sauvignon. Continuing in the Lucas & Lewellen tradition of making a wine with all five Bordeaux varieties, this Cabernet blend is the reason for our expanding interest in Malbec and Petit Verdot. Our 2011 won a Gold Medal in the 2014 Grand Harvest Awards with a “Best of Class” distinction, and a Gold at the 2014 Cabernet Shoot-Out in San Francisco. We’re taking a good look at the percentages of the grapes in this wine that are not Cabernet with an eye to always making it better. I would hope that two years from now we can talk about the six varieties in the Valley View Cab when our small planting of Carménère comes into production. Carménère is a nearly extinct Bordeaux variety that has ended up in Chile which produces a very BOLD wine.
2012 Chardonnay “Goodchild”: As usual, we barrel fermented this Chardonnay in French oak but this time we used 30% new French oak barrels. The wine underwent 100% malolactic fermentation to make this classic French styled wine with hints of butter, oak, and a slight nutty character. Produced, of course, from our Goodchild Vineyard in Santa Maria, half from our old vines and the other half from our young vines that are now 15 years old! Believe it or not, I like it with fried chicken or a salmon steak.
That Bordeaux trip that seemed like such a long time in the future is now approaching lift off! With what has taken place with Lucas & Lewellen Bordeaux varieties at the Valley View Vineyard, this trip is going to be more interesting than I ever expected. Little did I know when I visited the Bordeaux greats nearly 40 years ago, that we would be producing our own. In those days, no one was very sure of what we should be producing in Santa Barbara County. Pinot and Chardonnay were just starting to emerge as the varieties of choice. Bordeaux, home of the King...Cabernet! Meet you there soon!