The New Lokoya Estate | Lokoya Finds The Home Its Always Deserved
Lokoya needs little introduction to avid collectors. For over twenty years, these highly-acclaimed wines have found themselves right at home in the cellars of discerning enthusiasts throughout the world. Yet the brand itself never really had a place to call home, until now.
While existing fans and collectors could taste the wines at Cardinale’s Oakville estate on the Napa Valley floor, it was always more of an accommodation for loyal supporters rather than a complete Lokoya experience.
While Cardinale aspires to be the perfect blend of benchland and mountain vineyards, Lokoya is always 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from a single mountain AVA (Veeder, Spring, Howell and Diamond) vinified in the same exact way to communicate the purest singular expression of mountain terroir possible. As Winemaker Chris Carpenter’s sees it, Lokoya is a study of the mountain through the lens of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Commanding Wines Deserve a Commanding View
And so it only makes sense that a measure of altitude was in order for Lokoya’s new home. Thankfully, as of just six months ago, all wine enthusiasts are invited to experience these compelling wines in their most natural setting: amongst the clouds, at an elevation of ~2,200 feet perched high atop Spring Mountain.
In 2013, The Spire Collection (part of the Kendall-Jackson family) acquired the 77 acre Spring Mountain estate (formerly Terra Valentine), home to the existing 25 acre Yverdon Vineyard, a villa (which I visited once before), and the original stone winery built in the 1960’s by Fred Aves.
An inventor, craftsman and overall jack of all trades (who actually invented curb cheaters), Aves built the stone winery and named his property Yverdon. But the original structure was dark and dreary, with barrels being stored throughout the space and stained-glass windows blocking the panoramic views down to the valley floor below. Were it not, some wall decals would have helped spruce up the place, but while they would not be unwelcome in the accommodation now, there was more that was needed to be done to get it up to standard.
While Barbara Banke (Chairman and Proprietor of Kendall-Jackson) was initially attracted to the property’s prime 25 acre vineyard, she was also quick to recognize the potential of the existing stone winery as the future home of Lokoya. She and Kelly Jones (President of Spire Collection) decided to enlist the talents of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects to execute their vision, the noteworthy firm responsible for immediately recognizable wineries like Larkmead, Ovid Estate, The Napa Valley Reserve and Rams Gate.
Backen’s firm is well-known for creating clean, contemporary structures from the ground up that seamlessly fuse with their surrounding natural environments. But in this case, principal architect John Taft was inspired by the existing raw structural material, so instead of completely razing it he chose to preserve the classic structure and highlight its key architectural features.
He also kept all of the original stonework and arches, only removing the dark stained glass windows to allow natural light and the mesmerizing view to pour into the tastefully designed space. The transformation is gentle, yet significant, and the end result is a multi-functional space oozing in classic Napa Valley character with all of the warmth, openness and contemporary cleanliness of a signature Backen design.
Every detail seems to have been carefully considered, an observation that makes much more sense upon learning that the architects and designers actually collaborated on key design elements throughout the space. Adding to the utility of the new space, the Revel designed wine cellar doesn’t just enable Lokoya to house its entire historical library onsite, it also ensures that collectors have the rare opportunity to fill any gaps in their collection when they visit.
But the little details are impressive too, such as spittoons that are themselves miniature pieces of ceramic artwork handcrafted by a local artisan. There was even a comparative tasting conducted by the team to determine which Champagne would best complement the four Lokoya wines guests taste during their visit. Not surprisingly, I found the perfectly chilled glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs cheerfully greeting me perfect to awaken my taste buds before a flight of four serious Cabernet Sauvignon’s.
And while these wines might command a certain degree of focus and attention (the 2013’s are utterly captivating); I was surprised how quickly I was able to settle in and feel at ease, as the natural beauty and serenity of my surroundings provided the perfect respite from the world below. For a portfolio of wines so adept at communicating sense of place, it’s nice to see that they’ve finally found a place of their own to call home, right where they belong.
The Specifics | The New Lokoya Estate
Location: 3787 Spring Mountain Road, St. Helena, CA 94574
Tasting Fee: $125
Appointment Required? Yes. Contact Estate Manager Bradley Wasserman via Bradley.Wasserman@Lokoya.com or 707-948-1968.
Included in the Tasting: A glass of welcome Champagne and a tasting of the four current release Lokoya wines. The 2013 vintage is being poured as of this writing.
Wine Prices: $375 per bottle
Total Production: ~ 2,000 cases annually
Time to Allot: Approximately 90 minutes
Should You Go? I doubt it will take much convincing for existing Lokoya fans to make the scenic trip up Spring Mountain to visit. But the new Lokoya Estate affords those unfamiliar with these masterful expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon the perfect setting in which to get acquainted.
Read more about Lokoya and see photos from my previous visit here.