Walking into the Lucas and Lewellen Vineyards tasting room on the popular Copenhagen Drive in Solvang, I was pleased to have my winery appointment set up with Louie Lucas himself. Before we even sat down he started giving us some history of his winery.
With 400 acres, and four different properties, Lucas and Lewellen grows 25 grape varietals. The tasting room had been open for 10 years – serving up to 25 wines. The planting began in 1970 and Lucas has been in the area for 40 years.
The current winemaker for the last five years is Megan McGrath Gates, who went to UC Davis for her wine credentials.
Wining Awards For Others
Lucas and Lewellen Vineyards has a long history of selling grapes to Napa wineries as well as more local winemakers. So, his grapes “win awards for others”. And he also makes wines for others, like actress Jane Seymour. Amongst his list is Chardonnay to Kendall Jackson, more goes to Jed Steele of Steele wines, Muscat to Napa’s Castello di Amorosa, Gewurztraminer to V. Sattui and Syrah to winemaking legend Heidi Barrett.
I asked Lucas if I could mention this in my article, he hesitated for two seconds and then agreed, saying, “Its too late for them to get me!”
Lucas’ father and grandfather were grape growers, and what they produced had to be perfect and blemish free, even the stems had to be cured. “You grow good grapes,” Lucas said. “And you get good wine.”
“Today we buy from catalogs when shopping for root stocks,” Lucas said in regards to how things have changed in 40 years. “So many more variations then we had before, and all are supposed to be resistant to disease, we shall see.”
Lucas and Lewellen has 1200 French oak barrels, and buys both new and used. They added 300 new barrels last year and are experimenting with hybrid barrels that are made from half American and half French oak.
2011 Blanc de Noirs Brut Sparkling wine, 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay
Juicy fruit strawberry and peach on the nose, nice toast and jam on the palate. They don’t make the wine, instead they use a sparkling wine facility to make it, and only use their handpicked grapes. Outstanding.
A touch of stainless steel, followed by peach, kiwi, candied ginger and pear on the nose. Very balanced on the taste. Perfect.
2009 Chenin Blanc
White peaches, lime, green grapes, green grass. Great viscosity, mouth coating, not acidic.
Lemons, earth, peppermint on nose. Same gentle mouthfeel and low acid.
2011 Old Vine Moscato
2% residual sugar. Candied orange, wet wood, cloves.
2012 Pinot Noir Rose (100% Pinot)
Cherry, stems, rose petals…again, that nice balance and viscosity.
2009 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, Estate
New clones since the “movie” (a nod to “Sideways”), and now making outstanding Pinot Noir wines from 10 different clones.
Good dark cherries, dry, green peppercorns.
2010 High Nine Pinot 667 clone, Santa Maria.
Smokey, charred, bright red fruit, long finish.
Blue and red fruit, dry, medium length. A favorite.
2007 Petit Verdot
Inky black color, blue fruit, blueberry jam rolled up in a pancake on the nose. Mature and tannic on the palate. Another fave.
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Cote del Sol (means “The Sun side”)
Balanced red and blue fruit and tannins, very good, long finish.
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Valley View
83 cab percent and all other Bordeaux grapes
Balanced, dusty, plums bell pepper.
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6
Dark purple, jammy, dry toast, plums.
Tasting Room: 1645 Copenhagen Dr., Solvang, CA 93463