Today, I have the pleasure of exploring one of their wineries, which also has vineyards: Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards. I received a great sampling of their wines; and, through these flavors, I can now begin to understand Santa Barbara’s American Viticultural Area (AVA) a bit more. Remember Sideways?
Among other things, it takes a good winemaker to make a good Pinot Noir. Megan McGrath Gates has been the winemaker for Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards since 2007. Her winemaking career was launched as an enologist for Flowers Vineyard & Winery on the Sonoma Coast, crafting Burgundian-style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while she earned a Certificate in Winemaking from UC Davis.
When Megan McGrath Gates was a little girl, she would listen to the stories of her grandparents. A ninth-generation Californian, Gates was raised in Riverside. But, her ancestors were ranchers and she is a direct descendant of the historic Olivas family in Ventura, California.
Despite her ancestors, Gates was a typical suburban kid. Her dad is a lawyer and her mom is a teacher. She is one of six children and has a twin sister. With all of the romantic stories about her family, she dreamed about being a rancher and living a bucolic life.
Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France. Strictly speaking, champagne means "French Champagne" coming from the Reims and Epernay districts east of Paris. California produces two types of sparkling wine. The bulk process type is basically glorified soda pop. The other, usually labeled methode champenoise or methode traditionelle, means the second fermentation process must take place in the same bottle it is served from. It is well worth the price to buy a sparkling wine using this method.
With summer’s expiration date on Sept. 22, is it time to ditch those bright, light, delicious wines you enjoyed when fish were jumpin’ and cotton was high?
Short answer: no. There is no reason to forgo patio, pool and picnic pours now, or any time for that matter. In the first place, if you live in the southern half of the country, plenty of summer-like days remain — in Texas there will be summer-like days in winter. No need to eschew wines because of some silly equinox.
Forced to lay on his back, Louis Lucas had enough.
For 40 years, the veteran Santa Barbara viticulturist had been the man behind the wines. His extensive knowledge of the area dates back to a time when the area had 60 acres of vineyards. Today there are more than 200 wineries, six AVAs and more than 21,000 acres of vines.
Louis Lucas is one of the folks who pioneered grape growing in Santa Barbara County, beginning with his partnership in the historic Tepusquet Vineyard. Back in those early days, planting a vineyard was seen as a risky business. There weren't very many wineries in the county and it wasn't yet clear if the bigger North Coast wineries would be willing to purchase grapes from such a supposedly warm area in Southern California.