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ASSEMBLING LUCIA WINES has nothing to do with assembly-line practic-
es. Henry Ford could produce a Model T in 93 minutes. His practices of division of
labor, repetition and mechanization are cost effective and effcient. But Gary, Mark
and Jeff Pisoni work together as a team dedicated to handcrafting their wines. The
2012 Lucia Soberanes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah and the Santa Lucia High-
lands cuvées took two years in the making.
A truism rather than a timeworn cliché, winemaking does begin in the vineyard. Every
day, Mark walks through the blocks, examining the vines as though they were his two
small children. He looks at their growth, balance and cluster development. During the
summer, the viticulturist checks stress levels by observing a leaf blade’s angle to the
sun and its shade of green. Mark pinches the grape berries between his fngers to note
the tension in their skin, monitoring their ripeness. He and father Gary (left) smile
about the balanced vines of the Soberanes Vineyard, a result of their diligent care
and Mother Nature’s consistent weather patterns in 2012, which allowed the grapes
to glide into a ripeness zone of harmonious sugars, acid and tannin.
On a harvest morning, Jeff joins his older
brother in the vineyard. The winemaker
tosses grapes into his mouth, biting down
on the seeds to taste tannin development.
Crunchy seeds are a good sign, as they
won’t impart bitterness to the wine, and so
is the deep crimson color staining Jeff ’s fn-
gertips when he squeezes the grape skins.
There’s no instruction manual that tells
the Pisonis when the vines need water,
what a wine grape should taste like when
ready for harvest or when to drain a tank
of Pinot Noir (cover). Their decisions are
intuitive and informed by experience. And
all three agree that the 2012 harvest was
spectacular in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Jeff notes his favorite barrel selections, tasting and
testing results in preparation to propose blends
for the 2012 vintage.
always stays focused on the cues emanating from the fermentation tanks. The aromas
alone give early indicators of potential blends, and the winemaker notes and remembers
the heady scents of particular lots throughout the year.
Sight, taste and sound partner with smell. Jeff gauges the progress of the fermentation
by gazing into a tank and observing the color that has seeped from the berries. He con-
stantly tastes the individual lots, which consist of three to four tons of grapes fermented
together from one vineyard area. Once the winemaker transfers a lot from a tank to six
to eight oak barrels, he begins to develop a personal relationship with each one. Wine in
one barrel might taste really good immediately, and wine in another might come around
slowly or not shine at all. Jeff also listens to each barrel, placing his ear against the bung to
eavesdrop and hear the snap-crackle-pop of the fermenting wine. He tempers his sensory
observations with scientifc testing. All the while, he takes copious notes and ponders
over selections for the fnal blend.
Eventually Jeff combines samples from the barrels and lots in composite bottles for
blend trials that continue for months. He sits down with Mark and Gary to taste, discuss
and decide upon the best blend for each Lucia wine. Sometimes they agree. Sometimes
they disagree—and defer to the winemaker’s expertise.
The wines are gently transferred, one barrel at a time (top right), to a stainless steel tank
for blending. Then two years of anticipation and hard work are bottled in a single day.
Whether in the vineyard or the winery, the personal touch requires more work and at-
tentiveness than if employing more mechanically effcient methods. Gary, Mark and Jeff
may not be able to produce a Lucia wine in 93 minutes, but they might sit in a Model T—
parked on a dirt road near their beloved vines—and sip from their 2012 vintage for that
length of time, while thinking about the two years it took to get there.
During the racking process (top), a “bulldog” uses inert argon gas to push the wine gently from the barrel to a
bottling tank for blending. Bottling takes place within days.
Gleaming glass (bottom) and stainless steel tools—fasks, topping guns, racking arms, whisks and hose fttings—
may look impersonal but require the human touch.
“Lucia is owned by the Pisoni family, which has farmed the
region for three generations, along the way becoming masters of
both grapegrowing and winemaking.”
-Wine Spectator (Te Top 100 edition, December 31, 2013-January 15, 2014)
“Growers are now putting their experience to use in a newer,
second generation of vineyards that have been developed over
the last few years. Tose vineyards—specifically I am thinking
of sites like Soberanes . . . are among the most exciting because
they reflect all that has been learned over the years.”
- Antonio Galloni, Vinous (July 2013)
To emphasize our dedication and long-term
commitment to each of our three Santa
Lucia Highlands vineyards, we offer our
Lucia and Pisoni wines according to the
vineyard from which the grapes are sourced:
Soberanes Vineyard wines and Lucia
“Santa Lucia Highlands” cuvées
Garys’ Vineyard wines
Pisoni Vineyards wines
PO Box 908
Gonzales, CA 93926
ph: 800.946.3130
fax: 831.675.2557
Spring 2014
Writer: Susan Pisoni Tavernetti
Design: Chelsea McKenna
Photography: Rachel Balunsat
and the Pisoni Family
2012 Lucia Soberanes Chardonnay: A pure and laser-like focus
directs a channel of fresh lemon peel, crushed stones and citrus
blossom. On the palate, the wine shows the elegance and texture
we love from this vineyard: an initially broad profle that converges
with the natural acidity to a tight fnish. The Soberanes Vineyard
Chardonnay inspires food pairings with its vibrant fnish that carries
on throughout the palate. Aspiring for purity and like all Lucia wines,
the Chardonnay is unfltered and may show a slight sediment.
2012 Lucia Soberanes Pinot Noir: Floral and vibrant, the crim-
son-tinged Pinot Noir from the Soberanes Vineyard exudes the en-
ticing aromas of a fower garden. It’s not easy to fnd wines that are
predominately more foral than fruit, but the Soberanes Vineyard
selections exemplify this—lavender, violet and rose petal—with a
spice rack of undertones. A broad and lengthy palate ensues with
strikingly strong tannins for structure, indicating the aging potential
of the wine.
2012 Lucia Soberanes Syrah: A striking and pensive wine, the So-
beranes Syrah shows an intimidatingly deep, opaque color but with
such a delicate purple rim, as if to hint of the seductive fragrance
to follow. The wine is exceptionally foral and perfumed with rich
violet and blackberry essence. The palate has broad and powerful
depth, yet a unique way of carrying such concentration without be-
gin heavy. A seemingly infnite current of texture fows on the palate.
2012 Lucia Chardonnay: Green/gold in color and generous
with its aroma, a consistent character of the 2012 vintage, the
Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay is open and expressive with
a complex array of bosc pear, jasmine, green apple and brioche.
The palate is broad and approachable with notes of white peach
that unfold into a long fnish. This wine is a blend of fruit from
the Pisoni and Soberanes vineyards.
2012 Lucia Pinot Noir: This wine is a great example of the
remarkable 2012 vintage. The aromas leap from the glass, envel-
oping the taster with a rich and pure bouquet of fresh fruit laced
with soft notes of Earl Grey tea and spice. With fruit from the
Pisoni, Garys’ and Soberanes vineyards, the Lucia Pinot Noir
possesses a harmonious balance between the deep concentration
of favor and the frm tannin and acidity, ultimately showing the
potential to cellar and develop for many years.
2013 Lucy Rosé of Pinot Noir: Light strawberry in color, the
2013 Lucy Rosé is fresh and bright with highlights of rose pet-
al, near-ripe strawberry, orange peel and seashells. The palate is
crisp with refreshing acidity, indicating a wonderful pair with a
wide variety of dishes and occasions. Enjoy chilled.