By Alexandria Rae Cubbage, 17 January 2020
Esther and Derek Chan, the Hong Kong couple behind Lucunda Vineyards, have been drinking fine wine for many years. They love the expression of Pinot Noir in Burgundy but wanted to create a wine with more consistency which they find to be true of American wines. In 2016, the Chans purchased 20 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley. The vineyards contained 16 acres (6.47 hectares) of premium Pinot Noir vines that were about 20 years old. Lucunda is located on Starr Road in Windsor, California in the heart of the Russian River Valley. They only grow Pinot Noir, and 2017 is their first vintage.
Before the couple purchased this vineyard, they tasted the wine produced from the grapes grown there and were so impressed they decided this vineyard was the high quality level they were seeking. In the past, the grapes were sold to prominent wineries in the region, and now the couple has put their determination into making their own premium wine – Lucunda. Esther and Derek chose the name “Lucunda” because it’s derived from a Latin word meaning “pleasant” and “delightful”. They believe that the true style of Pinot Noir is delicate and intense with an astonishing taste and bouquet.
To ensure consistent quality, they have been meticulous with every detail. First, they hired a top winemaker, Cabell Coursey, to lead a passionate team to handcraft Lucunda. He’s worked at top estates throughout the world including: Domaine Méo-Camuzet, Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat, Felton Road, Dry River, Beaux Frères, and Kosta Browne. Then, they set the bar as high as possible, limiting the production to 3,000 bottles a year. Yes, that is only ten barrels of wine. Also, a few dozen bottles will be kept in their cellar library for checking in on the evolution of the wine from time to time. Fifty percent of new French oak is used for ageing, and there is no fining or filtering.