As you drive up to the enchanting town of Calistoga along Highway 29 you can’t help to notice an inviting sign for LOLA wines on the right.
Many times I’ve thought about visiting but it wasn’t until two weeks ago I got to visit this Napa Valley gem when proprietor and visionary Seth Cripe reached out with an invitation I couldn’t pass up.
Having known Seth for years, seeing his wines and tasting them on a few occasions, I admit I was intrigued to find out more about his project.
The quaint 1800s LOLA house provides an excellent setting to showcase the wines along with exceptional hospitality that reminded me of visits to Italian estates over the years.
The decor is accentuated by Seth’s wife Rafa, who is an accomplished artist along with Seth’s mother who enhances the ambiance with her touches.
The tasting experience is led by Seth and Rafaela, who welcome visitors in the patio adorned with a handful of tables amongst the trees, and on occasions by Lola herself, the 16-year-old rescue dog who inspired the name of the wines.
After a brief tour, we sat down at the corner table on an ideal spring day. Seth started the parade of wines with the Artisanal series, which consists of small lots of thoughtful wines including Riesling, Malvasia Bianca, and Chenin Blanc.
An array of dishes compliments the journey. First olives from their ranch, then a tasting of bottarga from Cortez Conservas (owned by Seth and his brother Mic) enjoyed with sourdough and butter, followed by blackfin tuna mojama with olive oil and Marcona almonds. Lastly, a mojama panini with tomato and arugula, and a fennel and celery salad.
Seth’s extensive wine experience lies heavily in the viticultural aspect. He’s managed to put together a small team to oversee and manage all the vineyards that he works with. “This is one of the most relevant parts of our wines,” says Seth.
His credentials and education in the field are vast and involve some talented mentorship over the years, which eventually led to his initial commercial release in 2008. Since then his focus has involved Pinot Noir, which has been a constant since day one and quite frankly is his workhorse across the globe, along with the Chardonnay.
The LOLA House featured tasting is focused on the Artisanal Series, and here are the notes on the wines we explored.
2018 LOLA Dry Riesling, Monterey
- ($32) 160 cases produced. A real treat and an excellent wine to wake up the palate full of sun-kissed Sicilian lemon skin with a savory marine layer note and a hint of citronella. Made with 30% skin contact enhancing texture and flavor.
2019 LOLA Malvasia Bianca, St Helena
- ($38) 124 cases produced. The vineyard is a real gem, located near Grace Family and Revana vineyard in St Helena; this 45-year-old vineyard is a unicorn. A floral-driven wine adorned with jasmine and orange blossom with a pleasant watercress bitterness and hints of lemon zest; 30% skin contact gives it depth and spice.
2019 LOLA Malvasia Bianca, St Helena
- ($38) The second one in the lineup is an experimental lot made with whole-cluster inclusion, creating a powerful example of this varietal. The result is an elevated orchestra gifted with enchanting aromatics with a range of florals and white pepper packing a punch in the palate.
2019 LOLA Chenin Blanc, St Helena
- ($38) 130 cases produced. The vineyard adjacent to the Malvasia Bianca lot produces a luminous wine showcasing purity and finesse. Notes include Meyer lemon and an array of orchard fruit let by crisp pear with a rich texture and a long finish.
2018 LOLA 10th Anniversary Pinot Noir Russian River
- ($55) 250 cases produced. An impactful example of Russian River Pinot Noir capturing dark fruit and classic cola nut with dried herb notes.
2019 LOLA Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
“With this wine, we want to focus on the purity of Cabernet Sauvignon” Seth explained. This violet and plum-driven beauty offers an insight into the ideal growing conditions and soil composition of the site with minimal oak treatment without sacrificing flavor intensity and delivery.
My take from the LOLA lineup is best summarized in Seth’s words. “LOLA is committed to producing wines in a pure and natural way. Our vineyards are farmed and cared for with their surrounding nature and ecological health kept in mind. As well we strive to stand for quality, authenticity, and value in all of the wines we produce. Great, pure, handcrafted wine doesn’t have to be expensive!”
Thank you, Seth, Rafa, and the LOLA team; can’t wait to return! For further information check out lolawines.com. Cheers!
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