by Fred McMillin
for November 5, 1997

The Top of the Crop


We select the best five percent of our grapes for our own wines and sell the rest.

...Paul Toeppen, Managing Partner of Lockwood Vineyards

The Rest of the Story: Paul did not plan on making wine when he, with two partners, closed the deal in June 1981. They were going to create a 1600-acre vineyard in the southern end of the Salinas Valley, and sell the grapes.

The Pilot Plant That Could

By 1989 it was clear that the grapes were good, but sales were not. So, to demonstrate the quality of their fruit, the partners build a 2000-case pilot winery right in the vineyard. To their astonishment, their first vintage won NINETEEN top awards in California competitions.

The Big Winery That Could

With that kind of success, the pilot plant soon grew into a 50,000-case state-of-the-art winery. The list of awards grew just as fast, reaching NINETY in just three years (including 18 Golds). At the 1992 California State Fair, the Lockwood Cabernet Sauvignon won Best of the Region.

Butch, Phil and Cabernet

That original vineyard included a whopping 500 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon...planted in carefully-selected locations. You see, Paul's partners, Phil Johnson and Butch Lindsey, were the grape gurus. They brought several decades of Monterey grape-growing experience to the project, and knew just the spots for Cabernet. They impressed author James Halliday, who wrote, "The Lockwood Cabernet is full of sweet berry fruit... With none of the vegetative characters which have been the bane of Monterey County. If Lockwood can maintain this early form, it will be a force to be reckoned with."

My 15 tasters just checked out the 1994 Cab. I always have a few that don't care for a wine...but not this time. Approval was UNANIMOUS. Lockwood is maintaining that early form!

The Wine:
1994 Cabernet Sauvignon, Monterey County
Lockwood Vineyard
Steinbeck Station, Salinas, CA
Tasting Notes—Delicious fruit; ready to drink now.
Contact—Michelle Armour, (415) 346-2929

Postscript: The name Lockwood? The vineyard's unique, vine-friendly soil is called "Lockwood Shaly Loam."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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