Posted 5/7/14 to the River News Herald
By Susan Whitesell
Picture a beautiful summer day… I am sitting on a quaint patio tasting a lovely glass of The Lucas Winery ZinStar Zinfandel, surrounded by acres and acres of lush vineyards. Life does not get any better than this. You may not get the quaint setting or lush vineyards but you can enjoy this and other Lucas Winery award-winning wines at the June 21st Rio Vista Slow Food Festival!
“Here at The Lucas Winery we take our time in everything we do. Part of wine itself is waiting. To make a bottle of wine can take years. Wine is as slow as they come.”
The Slow Food message promoting traditional and regional cuisine as an alternative to fast food resonates with The Lucas Winery. Sara Helmers, Wine Club and Events Manager, says, “Here at The Lucas Winery we take our time in everything we do. Part of wine itself is waiting. To make a bottle of wine can take years. Wine is as slow as they come.”
Sara will be a guest speaker at this year’s Slow Food Festival. She plans to talk about the influences of organic farming practices in conjunction with and versus sustainable farming practices. Additionally, Sara plans to discuss the differences of farming a vineyard organically and bottling organically. (The winery is CCOF certified in the vineyard, and only adds sulfites to their wine to enable a wine to be laid down, aged and enjoyed many years later.)
Since 1978, The Lucas Winery has been crafting vineyard designated, hand harvested, unblended pure varietal wines. The website states, “Our family of wines will please both the palate and the planet.” The ZinStar vineyard is Organic Certified meaning that no pesticides or herbicides are applied. Pests are controlled using nature’s predators, for example, by encouraging pest eating owls, birds and bats on the property. Yes, there are some weeds and a crop layer is left to foster “good bugs” like lady bugs and praying mantis. Bad bugs such as leaf sapping spider mites are controlled by releasing predator mites.
The winery crafts an Estate Chardonnay using grapes from three nearby vintners and the rest are Zinfandels. The winery’s signature ZinStar Zinfandel, C’T’Z’N Zinfandel, and Zin Blossoms, a dry Zinfandel Rose, produced in a saigner style. Less frequently, based on growing conditions, the winery also produces a Late Harvest Zinfandel. The winery produces 1,500-2,000 cases a year.
According to their web site, “Wine tasting at The Lucas Winery is very different than you will encounter at most wineries.” You will move through the winery while tasting different wines. Depending on the time of year, visitors may prune a vine, taste Zinfandel grapes almost ready to harvest, punch down newly harvested grapes, or sample freshly fermented wine. Visitors receive lots of educational background, learn about the soil and how it impacts the wine, wander through the ZinStar vineyard, and visit their unique single-high barrel room.
The Lucas Winery and several other local wineries are featured at the June 21st Slow Food Festival. Tickets for are available from the Slow Food Rio Vista web site at http://www.slowfoodriovista.org, online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/620291 or they can be purchased at Books Rio V and This N That. Events such as the Slow Food Festival are made possible with the involvement of individuals like you. Contact Tom Surh at 374-5282 to volunteer or Janith Norman at 374-6118 for information to be a vendor or sponsor.
The Slow Food festival focuses on enjoyment of our local meats, wine and produce. Since it is summer, Sara suggests a recipe that brings out the flavor intensity and sweetness of fresh strawberries by adding balsamic vinegar, fresh-ground black pepper, and Zin Blossoms dry a dry Zinfandel Rosˊe.