On the cover - Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
Quality begins in the vineyards
With Lucas & Lewellen wines, it’s all about choice, diversity and keeping it local. Between Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards tasting room, and its sister tasting room, Toccata, guests can choose from a total of 42 different wines crafted from 23 grape varieties, including one of the few Méthode Champenoise style sparkling wines made on the Central Coast. All grapes are grown on their 400 estate acres in Santa Barbara, incorporating three distinct microclimates, all of which add up to an amazing mix of wine. How does a winery make so many wines and make them well? Having a third-generation grape grower who has farmed the region since the 1970s helps. “We hear time and again that what makes us unique is the consistent quality we bring across a wide range of varieties,” says Mike Lewellen, director of business operations. “This allows our guests to really explore the best of Santa Barbara.”
Lucas & Lewellen grapes are hand picked and sustainably grown in their Santa Ynez Valley estate vineyards, and even their Winemaker, Megan McGrath-Gates was educated locally and grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley. But how did two friends end up becoming one of the most iconic wineries in Santa Barbara? “That’s a question I’m often asked,” laughs former Superior Court Judge, Royce Lewellen who performed the wedding ceremony for Louis Lucas—before the winery even existed! “Louis told me over lunch he was considering selling one or the other of his two vineyards, and I told him I wasn’t interested in buying a vineyard but I’d buy a half interest in the two vineyards if he would do the farming.” By the end of that lunch, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards was born. Megan McGrath Gates, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo soils sciences graduate who earned her Certificate in Winemaking from UC Davis, came on board as Winemaker in 2006—one of the few female winemakers along the Central Coast. “I am extremely fortunate to be a part of the Lucas & Lewellen team. It defines the best of Santa Barbara County wine grape growing and winemaking. The qualities that our wines are frequently recognized for begin in the vineyard with Louis Lucas,” she says.
They farm several different vineyards including Goodchild, High 9 and the Old Adobe Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley, located along the Foxen Wine Trail. Home to mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the soils vary from clay and gravel river deposits to hillside and hilltop sites reminiscent of the great vineyards of Burgundy.
There is also the Los Alamos Valley vineyard, which stretches for over a mile along Highway 101. These vineyards are home to over 20 varieties of grapes including traditional Rhône, Burgundy and Bordeaux grapes, as well as Italian varieties for their sister label, Tocatta. And then there is the idyllic Valley View Vineyard that slopes towards the Santa Ynez River, planted to what many consider Santa Barbara County's best Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the Lucas & Lewellen tasting room, both kids and dogs are welcomed and the ambience is warm and friendly. They offer a “Fun List” where guests can enjoy only “fun wines” from sparkling wine to Rosé, and decadent late harvest wines to the award-winning Silver King Port in an edible dark chocolate “shot glass.”
Visit the Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards tasting room, located at 1645 Copenhagen Drive in Solvang, and their sister tasting room, Toccata, at 1665 Copenhagen Drive—just a few doors down. Both tasting rooms are open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and both are open later on Friday and Saturday evenings. Contact them at (805) 686-9336 or visit www.llwine.com for more information.