It had been nearly four months since our group of wine tasting friends had assembled. Caution with fears of the pandemic caused us to put our get-togethers on hold. This week, we decided to test the waters. Ken and Taryn graciously invited us to their home to safely return to one of our passions.
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.