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?
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.
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.
A warm spring has really pushed our grapevines and we’re already seeing bloom. With the good winter rains, vines really look healthy, vigorous, and have great color. Our recent heat spell has pushed us even further, although the latest forecast is for a cooling trend and potential showers. It’s all part of farming!