Solvang, though built to mimic a quaint Danish town, complete with a museum honoring Hans Christian Anderson, looks more like a town out of my childhood Cinderella or Hansel & Gretel Golden Books. But there's nothing fairy tale about the wineries.
Wine, Wash & Wag spread out around the downtown village of Solvang. It was the brainchild of Lucas & Lewellen events manager Anjie Parker and Pam Koga, owner/operator of Pam's Pampered Pooches mobile grooming.
The Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards tasting room offers guests a wide variety of wines to choose from. They craft an impressive array of wines from 26 grape varieties that are grown on their 400 estate acres in Santa Barbara County’s three distinct microclimates, creating a diversity of wine styles to suit every taste preference.
The following three were my top picks of the night. Lucas & Lewellen Blanc de Noirs was my favorite on the night. Nectarines, apricot and brioche. Perfectly balanced. – $30 (great price) Summerland Winery Brut using Sonoma fruit was very crisp, and tasted of granny smiths and lime. $30 While Brewer-Cliftons straight Chard, from their own 3D vineyard, has more mouthfeel and a bit heavier with nutty, yeasty flavors and baked peach. You could age this one for 10 years or so. $50
In 1970, Central Valley grower Louis Lucas, also with Al Gagnon and Dale Hampton, established the 800-acre Tepusquet Vineyard. “We were the leading edge,” he admits, “and any time you go to an area that doesn’t have fruit, there’s a risk.” Within five years, however, the caliber of his chardonnay was luring big-name Northern California buyers like Beringer, ZD and Robert Mondavi.
Harvest started a couple of weeks earlier than ever before. Our yields in some varieties, like Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, are unbelievably low. Both bunch size and berry size are small. This situation is statewide, especially in the coastal regions. Everyone is questioning why. Many things enter into it,
like the fact that we had three large crops in a row, an early fall frost, a warm winter, bad weather during flowering, irregular berry set, a lack of winter rains and no deep soil moisture. Our total production will be down about 50 percent. I do expect the 2015 vintage to be a quality one. We were done harvesting a month early.
Santa Barbara Wine Country Pioneer Is Driving Force Behind Lucas & Lewellen Winery
In 1970, when Louis Lucas left his table grape-growing family in California’s hot Central Valley to try his hand at wine grapes in comparably cool Santa Barbara County, the 28-year-old Notre Dame graduate found himself staring at a blank canvas.