Edible Santa Barbara Summer 2019

Page 60

Lane Tanner “We just wanted to make wine; selling it was almost secondary,” reminisced Lane Tanner, the Central Coast’s first independent female winemaker. Her first winery job, in Northern California in 1979, required more than a bit of muscle. “I actually had to clean barrels by putting chains in it and then water and then roll the barrel back and forth so the chains break off the tartrates,” said Tanner. “Trust me, after about two or three barrels, that gets to be a lot of work! It was OK for me because I was very strong, but I think that definitely limited the number of women that went into the field at that point. The nice thing is, as I’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten more technology and now pretty much you don’t really have to be that strong to do almost anything. Really, the industry has gotten easier.” Tanner arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1981 with her chemistry degree in hand, for the enologist job at Firestone Winery. She worked at Zaca Mesa before landing her first winemaker job, in 1984, at Hitching Post Wines. Nicknamed the “Pinot Czarina” for her passion for Pinot Noir, she started her own label, Lane Tanner Wines, in 1989. “Pinot Noir just works with my body chemistry to give me the most wonderful high,” said Tanner. “There is just something about Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir. There would be no other place I’d want to make wine; point-blank, none. It’s so deep inside of my body.” It’s been a road full of highs and lows. Tanner’s piece of the pie kept shrinking as “big money” arrived in the region and flooded the market with Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. “At that point, I was breaking even; maybe not even breaking even.” After a decade, she retired her eponymous wine label. But she couldn’t stay away from the winery. In 2013, she entered into a partnership with Will Henry to make Lumen Wines. “I wake up in the morning and think I’m one of the luckiest people in the wine industry right now,” said Tanner. “I get to make wine; I have a partner who’s just so good to me; he and his wife, Kali Kopley, do all the sales; I get to do everything I love and nothing I hate and I get a paycheck! I’m loving it! I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Lane Tanner