The Lucas Winery

2005 ZinStar Zinfandel


California: Lodi: Woodbridge

Offer Expired:Jul 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Year 26 and Counting

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Respond to operative requests and acquire a delicious Lodi Zinfandel

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: The Lucas Winery

Wine Subject: 2005 ZinStar Zinfandel

Winemaker: Heather Pyle Lucas

Backgrounder: The Lodi Appellation is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills towards the northern end of the San Juaquin Valley. The diverse soil is primarily sandy loam with large gravel. Its climate is Mediterranean in character with warm and dry days and with cool moist wine blowing in during the evenings off the Sacramento river delta. While the region is well known for fantastic Zinfandel, California’s other classic varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also thrive here. Some of the vineyards here date back well over 100 years and the first vines were planted here in the 1850s. The fruit for this delicious wine comes from vines that are over 70 years old, and this is the 26th vintage that The Lucas Winery has made a Zin from this great fruit.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Well developed deep ruby red in color with ruby and burgundy hues through its deep clear core. Along the edges the color lightens just slightly to a ruby then pink along the meniscus. When swirled, evenly spaced fat legs quickly ring the glass.

Smell – Bold and rich with inviting aromas of earthy and spicy red and black berries integrate with soft sweet oak, classic Zinfandel bramble and floral violet notes.

Feel – Soft and smooth with a kick of spice that softens as this dry full-bodied wine opens and breathes. Fine supple but structured tannins, good acidity and minerality linger long into the finish.

Taste – Very pretty with expansive but not overly extracted ripe and rich red and black berries including blackberry, raspberry and boysenberry meld with sweet soft oak flavors, soft inviting spice, an earthy component, herbal bramble and floral violets.

Finish – Long and lingering with the earthy and sweet spiced fruit fading softly as the fine supple tannins linger on.

Conclusion – The 2005 The Lucas Winery ZinStar Zinfandel is a delicious Zinfandel with great finesse. Rich and ripe fruit but not out of balance, this wine is very pretty on the nose and palate. Lower in alcohol than most California Zins, this wine is very approachable. This is a Zin that can pair with both rich and spice food as well as more delicate cuisine.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Heather Pyle Lucas


AGENT RED: Greetings, Heather. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 ZinStar Vineyard Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

HEATHER LUCAS: Thanks, Agent Red. It’s great to be with you, today.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

HEATHER: A convergence you might say of a father, raised in Europe and always a huge wine lover, a great experience taking “VEN3, an introduction to wine” at UC Davis at the end of my undergraduate career and a boyfriend who worked at a winery as an electrician and introduced me, a little to the culture of wineries. This convergence happened while I was wavering for the first time about becoming a Veterinarian at the age of 22 or 23. I’ve never looked back and love the art, the science, the history and of course wine itself.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

HEATHER: The wine that has had a lasting impression on me in many ways was the 1974 Robert Mondavi Reserve which I tasted for the first time in 1988. My mentor in the early years was Charles Thomas (currently at Quintessa). He is the most brilliant and caring winemaker/mentor I know. He influenced me greatly and taught me the depth of the history of winemaking and its significance on great winemakers today.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

HEATHER: I make wine mainly for the creative experience of getting once chance (per year) to do something great with a raw product I have not experienced before. Each year we apply what we have learned from previous years and project them onto a unique vintage. We must stay aware of the differences, the cues and be always aware that this is a new and unique journey of expression.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

HEATHER: This wine is the 2005 Zinstar Zinfandel made from an ancient (75+ years) head trained vineyard just out the door from our winery in Lodi. The soil is extremely sandy and the roots must go very very deep because we only need to irrigate a handful of times per year and withhold water as much as possible so that the wine can be a reflection of the vineyard. The wine is handcrafted, fermented in small tanks, punched down many times a day as needed to extract color and flavor. Native yeast are allowed to ferment most of the way but since Zins can be tricky, we add some prepared yeast as a finisher. The key to our style is gentle handling, 15 months of barrel aging in our one high barrel cellar in 30% new french oak barrels. This wine is rich but balanced, bone dry and aged to perfection for the consumer so that the fruit is still very abundant and the tannins are soft and approachable. The length on the palate is remarkable, warm but not hot and with a hint of toasted oak.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

HEATHER: Well aged beef pairs well with the 2005 ZinStar but perhaps surprisingly we also love it with Salmon, pork and many other dishes that show complexity. Summer barbeques are perfect because they combine lots of flavors that show off the ZinStar which was made to complement rather than dominate a meal.

RED: Yum, and, noted! In your opinion, what makes the Lodi region so special?

HEATHER: Lodi is perfect because it has ample daytime warmth in the growing season to ripen the flavors and tannins but cool nights (from the substantial Delta Breeze) to preserve the natural acidity and subtle fruit aromas often lost in the hotter, southern regions of the San Joaquin Valley. We get a ripeness that balances tannin maturity with fresh fruit flavors and never needs to be pushed to jamminess before harvest.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

HEATHER: We are putting the finishing touches on the 2009 Reds, that is we are tasting each barrel, making lab scale blends and talking about how each barrel is coming along. We are also walking vineyards, planning for the upcoming harvest. Now, just before veraison (softening of the fruit) is the time to decide how much crop is the right balance for each vineyard and to plan to cut off what is in excess or won’t ripen together. Now’s a busy time because we are also checking and testing our equipment and making a plan for harvest in general.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

HEATHER: Our wines are to be enjoyed with friends or family and a meal.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

HEATHER: Enjoy the complexity achieved by 30+ years of experimentation with the same site and 3 years of bottle age. This wine has never tasted better!!!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of The Lucas Winery in Lodi can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

“…Style and Personality is Evident in Lucas’ Noted ZinStar Zinfandel, an Elegant, Exotic Wine…” – Gerald R Boyd, Quarterly Review of Wine

About This Wine:

All of our ZinStar wines are barrel aged for 11 to 14 months and receive 3 to 4 years of bottle time prior to release. Back when people preferred a wine with several years of bottle age, we established this tradition. Very few winemakers are able to afford this crucial time in the bottle, which allows the bouquet to fully develop. You are rarely provided the opportunity to purchase a wine that has time in the bottle.

This table wine from the over 70 year old vines is unique in her bouquet and texture. This vintage is lush with layers of silky smooth richness and supple tannins, thus offering concentrated aromas of blackberries, boysenberries, and a hint of French Oak. This vintage is restrained and not overly ripe or alcoholic.

Serve with grilled salmon drizzled with a lemon caper sauce. Or perhaps you could try a roasted chicken massaged with an herb rub. How about some sun-dried tomato raviolis with a quick sauté of fresh olive oil, diced tomatoes, garlic, and basil.

About The Winery:

To believe and understand that wines can be created that reflect the place they are from; that is the long, long journey for a winemaker. Creating organic, unblended, balanced wines is a challenging goal in winemaking. Wines such as these, once they are recognized, will not easily be forgotten. 
We established the winery in 1978 because we believed we had the soil, climate, and vineyards to produce great wines. As you visit our site or our winery, we will provide an elegant space to learn about and enjoy wine, food, friends, and the art of winemaking.

The People:

In Europe, vineyards were recognized for the great wines they created. Great wines were created in the vineyard and the winemaker’s relationship with the seasons. It was simple and traditional winemaking. It is that relationship we strive for in our winemaking – to protect the qualities of great vineyards.

David Lucas: “My goal is to create wines which reflect their environment, that represent the place they come from. I used to make what I call “terrifying” wines, high alcohol, jammy, port like, and un-age-able. While I was employed by a world- class winery for 16 years, responsible for the vineyards, research, and grape supply, I had the opportunity to visit some of the world’s great vineyards, to stand in those vineyards, and to taste the grapes and wines they produced. I discovered that the wines I was making were nothing at all like those wonderful, balanced, and elegantly structured wines. So, I started on a long journey. Years of research and experimentation led to the completion of the new winery in 2000. Our goal is to create wines that will develop with time in the bottle, for that is where the Genie, the bouquet, lives.”

Heather Pyle Lucas: “After making wines for 16 years at the Robert Mondavi Winery where I was responsible for their Cabernet Reserve and Opus wines, I began to apply my vast experience to help start-up wineries in Napa and throughout California. I found that my winemaking heart and soul belongs to the farming of grapes. I personally spend more time in the vineyard than I do in the winery. I am a traditionalist and my own vineyard and winegrowing reflects this with organically grown grapes. My mantra is to make seamless wines that are distinctive and age-worthy. I love discovering a vineyard through its wines and how to fine tune the vines and hence the wines they produce. Best of all, however, is getting up in the middle of the night in my pajamas and checking on how the fermentations are doing …”

Scooby: Executive in charge of Meeting and Greeting (M&G). Scooby is a skilled meeter and greeter utilizing such hospitality industry standards as “give me five,” “surfs up,” and “wipe out.” He is easily distracted so we ask that you do not scratch him behind the ears and drive him to tears. Scooby is skilled at pinpointing the optimum grape sweetness and harvest flavors via his tried and true picking and licking methodology. We have all learned a lot from Scooby as he lives on the sunny side of life!

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