Seth Cripe overlooking his Vineyards
By Frank Lutz
I met Seth Cripe several years ago, when I tasted his extraordinary 2010 Russian River Pinot Noir. Wines made from the Pinot Noir grape, the grape of Burgundy, France are known to be of a medium-body with a soft and pleasing taste, often with subtle flavors of fruit. But in 2012 when I tasted LOLA’s 2010 Russian River Pinot, the memory bank in my tasting sensors went right back to the wines of France. This young wine had great body for a Pinot, not thin, no aura of light around the edges of the liquid in the glass as I held it up to a window, and a soft, well-developed color. It had a flavor free of tannic overload, but soft with a touch of fruit and a hint of flowers. My criticism of West Coast Pinots has often been that they are thin and need to age. But after my glass of the 2010 Russian River, I was hooked on LOLA Wines.
Since 2012 I have tasted many of the LOLA Wines, both red and white. It is clear that Cripe learned a lot about winemaking in Europe, as his Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling wines, all reflect the flavor balances, subtleties and nuances of the finest European wines. Cripe has managed to make a LOLA Pinot Noir that not only has great flavor, but also has body and density for a medium-bodied class of wines. Cripe and his LOLA vineyards also make a dry Riesling in the German style, not sweet as some Rieslings tend to be, and a Chardonnay that, thankfully, is dry like the fine Chablis wines from France rather than being too sweet and buttery. According to Cripe, vintners have been working with and making varietals like Burgundy with Pinot Noir, Chablis with Chardonnay, and Germany with Riesling for hundreds or even thousands of years.
“I don’t have the ego to think that I’m going to change anything about all the knowledge and trials and errors that have preceded me. I just take what they’ve refined and try to apply it to our grapes and terroir here in California. It’s really the grapes, vineyards and surrounding terroir that are the stars in finished wine. I’m just a caretaker and encourager, a champion of nature and what it can showcase in its wine.”
Cripe’s “balance” philosophy is clearly in play. When I asked about his 2010 Russian River Pinot and his 2014 Artisanal Pinot, both in my opinion should be award winners, Cripe stated, “These wines are great because of the vintages and years where everything was in balance somewhat more than other years. 2010 was a great year for me personally as well the grapes. There was a better balance in acid and mature tannin structure in these years also which makes for better, more vibrant and age worthy wines.” His new release, the 2016 North Coast Pinot Noir, is a spectacular wine, despite being so young!
LOLA’s wine tasting garden
Aaah, the comforts of home chez LOLA
LOLA’s wine barrels in the aging room
Seth Cripe with famous wine historian and writer Hugh Johnson, and his son Red
A table setting with local artisanal cheeses and olives in LOLA’s wine garden
LOLA wines can be found at prestigious wine stores such as Wally’s on Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles as well as in 30 other states. “It’s nice to have people who have been around so long and are so respected in the industry championing our wines” adds Cripe. Other places to find LOLA wines are Zachy’s in NY, Le Cirque in NYC (former home of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain) various Hillstones restaurants, Les Halles in NYC, ABC Wines in Florida and, if you happen to be at the Danish consulate in NYC, Copenhagen or Oslo you’ll also find LOLA. “The ambassador is a huge LOLA fan!” Cripe says with a smile. Locally, LOLA can be found in the Venice Beach area at Oscar’s, Venice Beach Wines, Venice Ale House, or in Beverly Hills at The Grill in the Alley.
What’s the future look like for LOLA wines? Cripe says, “We’re continuing to grow and fly the flag for quality, handmade wine with soul and authenticity, as well as a company with a passion for showcasing and making wines that reflect the regions where they come from in a responsible assimilating way. I’ve also started releasing a series of raw artisanal wines that are made as nature intended. As for sales, we’re exporting to Singapore now and as well Northern Europe and hope to get going in Japan and China.”
Napa Valley is a region known for its extraordinary and wonderful wines. Seth Cripe and his LOLA vineyards maintain this standard with their superb craftsmanship and high quality wines that make the Napa Valley vintners the best in the world.
LOLA is distributed in 30 states throughout the U.S. It is sold in many prestigious and acclaimed restaurants and retail stores. Here are a few retail stores where you can find LOLA Wines in California:
- 55 Degree Wine
- All Things Olive
- California Wine and Cheese
- Cheese Cave
- Dan’s Wine Shop
- Silverlake Wine
- The Black Cat
- The Wine Bottega
- Wine Closet
- Los Angeles Wine Company
- Wally’s Wine Warehouse
Contact LOLA Wines at this link to find a store near YOU!
Janice Bremec Blum, editor
Please drink Responsibly
Wine aficionado Frank Lutz lives in Venice Beach, CA. He was educated in universities in the USA and Europe, in philosophy and European languages. He has travelled the world, and holds a Commercial pilot’s license, as well as instructor’s ratings. Frank has been in the health and nutrition industry since 1980, and has a great appreciation for companies that make natural, unadulterated food and beverage products. Email Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org
Part 1 and 2 of Seth Cripe’s story on the origins and authenticity of LOLA Wines…