Last March, we got the opportunity to go to the Women Winemakers Celebration (from which you will several interviews). But one of the questions we asked many of the winemakers there was who blazed the trail for you? Almost everyone said Lane Tanner, of Lumen Wines.
And when we told her that, Tanner laughed.
“I just… I’ve been here a long time,” she said. “You never think of yourself as a legend or a trailblazer. I just happened to get here in 1980 and I’ve been here ever since and, you know, I’ve survived year after year.”
Tanner also credits Alison Green, at Firestone Winery, with being the first female winemaker in Santa Barbara County. Tanner became enologist at Firestone after Green became the winemaker. After that, Tanner went to Zaca Mesa for a year.
“Then in 1984, I started my own company making wine,” Tanner said. “And so I was the first independent female winemaker Santa Barbara County, so that’s kind of how that worked.”
Tanner started out making pinot noir because that’s what she liked.
“I just fell in love with pinot noir and that’s all I wanted to make,” Tanner said. “So, really the first 10 years of the Lane Tanner label, I made nothing but pinot noir, so I was probably the only winery in California that was a single type winery.”
Tanner’s current label, Lumen Wines, does include other wines besides pinot noir. In fact, one of her most interesting wines is Hey Ginger Chardonnay, 2021, which actually has ginger in it.
“You have to get a special permit to say that you’ve actually put ginger in it, so the people know there’s something in it besides grapes,” Tanner said. “This is just really unique in the sense that… Well, ginger. I mean, yes, it is used as a flavor, but it’s also used as a preservative. So actually, it’s doing two different things. I’ve been playing with this for years. The way I came up with it is I go to Hawaii every year after harvest. And I always bring back a lot of gingerroot. I just love it, but I always had a problem preserving it. So one day, I chopped a bunch of big chunks, put them in a mason jar, and put riesling over them, and then I kept them in my refrigerator. Then whenever I needed, ginger, I would pull a chunk out.”
Then Tanner noticed that the riesling was also keeping very well. So, she tried making the wine with ginger in her winery, and this year decided to make the wine on a commercial level.
And that’s Lane Tanner.