Bottleology – Larry Lehmbecker of Vin Du Lac, has the “Lac-down” on Lake Chelan
November 19, 2009 by Dave Bender
I Learned It From Watching You: Larry is from the Seattle area–Renton actually–and grew up in a household of home winemaking. His parents were his role models, who both had a fond appreciation for the fermented juice. His winery, Vin Du Lac, puts their “home brew” to shame with an annual production of 10,000 cases [gulp, gulp, gulp].
For Some It’s East Jabip—For Larry It’s Home: Several decades ago Larry “discovered” Chelan, WA. At that time he was just a teenager and he always found himself there due to his love for the outdoors (maybe it was because of a broken compass). Regardless, Larry ultimately spent ten years looking for a place to call home in that area. Finally, in 2002 he signed on a property set on a hilltop, 200 feet above Lake Chelan, with orchards and now seven acres of vineyard. Larry is now what you’d call, “a happy camper.”
Larry Says: “It’s certainly the most creative thing I’ve ever done. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t draw. I don’t have any of those creative talents, but by god I can make wine.”
The TA-DA!: In 2005 the Vin Du Lac 2003 Cabernet Franc was released and made it into a tasting competition held by some other wine magazine called, Wine Press Northwest, [PRE-WINO!]. This magazine holds an annual “Platinum” competition, where they take all the wines from that year that they’ve awarded gold medals too and re-taste them to pick the Platinum winners. That year Larry’s wine was picked as THE Top Wine in the Northwest.
Excuse me, WAITER: Larry’s a smart guy. He has his own Law practice, prides himself on being able to make sense of large amounts of information and is a self-taught wine maker. As smart as that makes him, the guy knows when to call on the advice of a Sommelier or restaurant server when selecting wines outside of Washington State while dining out. Coming from a professional server [yours truly], I respect that. Larry, equally a salesman, added: “honestly, I end up drinking a lot of my own stuff. If I go to a restaurant and everything looks pretty sketchy, if I see some Vin Du Lac on there [the wine list], I’m going to order the Vin Du Lac because I know it’s good.”
What in tarnation?!: Larry bottles and sells twelve different varietals and he’s beginning an experiment with Washington Pinot Noir. He even has ¼ acre of Pinot Noir planted on his property (shhh…don’t tell the neighbors). I will add, his favorite varietal to work with is Riesling from Chelan.
Can I Have Your Attention Please: While many Americans STILL don’t know that Washington State even produces wine (ok a select few and I won’t point fingers), Larry is promoting Chelan. He says, “ I’m having a lot of fun telling myself that my mission right now is to bring Lake Chelan wines to the world.” No coincidence that when I interviewed Larry over the phone, he was in Phoenix on business selling his wines. Larry admits to the challenge and says that “it’s a hard thing to do—but I’m up for it.” Larry, give them hell!
A Mouth Full: Vin Du Lac, 2007 Cabernet Franc, Barrel Select, Columbia Valley $40 400 cs.
Larry selected this wine because it’s a wine that the winery has built their fame around, and is now very well known. This wine is not made from estate fruit, it’s made using 82% Cabernet Franc, most of which is from a north slope off of the Snipes Mountain AVA and the rest of the blend is Merlot.
Wild fruit on the nose, fresh from a blackberry thicket, a thorn prick from this bramble. Raspberries add some spunk and liveliness and the oak remains only an accent. Still on the nose, after an initial taste, lies some back-ended red earth—to the palate once again. The upfront fruit isn’t jammy like I initially thought; it’s a pleasant surprise both bright and balanced. A nice drink from start to finish, it’s best feature is certainly its core. Add this one to the mix on your holiday table, you won’t be disappointed.
Vin Du Lac
105 Highway 150,
Chelan, WA 98816
For an interview please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org