Lost Creek Winery recently came under new ownership and we decided to head out on Sunday to see if we could meet the new owners. Unfortunately, when we got there the tasting room was busy and the new owner seemed really stressed, so we did our tasting and left.
Lost Creek is an interesting winery, the previous owners considered it more of a hobby and ran it as such. This has left a bad taste in the mouth of many Virginia Wine Lovers who know that Virginia is capable of producing serious wines.
But, I think Lost Creek can be better. Since I did not get a chance to impart my thoughts (nor am I sure they would have been welcomed) to the new owners, I am going to do it here. Please understand this post is from a position of love, I want all Virginia Wineries to make great wine, but right now, you don't.
First, some things you are doing right: the rumor is you are bringing on Sébastien Marquet, from Doukenie Winery as a consulting winemaker. If this is true, fantastic. Sébastian is great at what he does and he is a perfectionist, his presence will instantly add gravitas to your wines.
Your facility and tasting room are beautifully designed and laid out. Lost Creek is one of my favorite places to spend time. I especially like the dual patios, so if we want to listen to music we can, but if we want to have a conversation we can sit on the other side.
That being said, there is a lot of room for improvement. I am going to give you five tips that I think will help improve Lost Creek, and it's wines:
- Decide whether you are going to be a wedding winery or a serious winery. Right now, you are firmly in the category of wedding winery. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that, but most wedding wineries don't make great wine (there are obvious exceptions to this). You can be a serious winery that sometimes hosts weddings, but you have to put the one first.
- Train your pourers better. The woman who poured our wine was new, which is forgivable, but it was clear she didn't know anything about your wine, which is not. Your tasting room staff has the ability to turn a mediocre experience around with their personality and knowledge.
- Speaking of that, at one point your Merlot may have been "light bodied", that is no longer the case. Switch the order up and pour the Chambourcin before the Merlot. Frankly, I think your Cambourcon is your stand out wine now, so tout its lightness and easy food pairing capabilities.
- Stop with the non-vintage wines and the oak chips. There is no excuse for making all of your wines non-vintage. Virginia has variable seasons and years, let the true expression of the fruit from each vintage shine through and make vintage wines. I know that people can't tell the difference between oak chips and barrel-aged wine, but until you have established your wines as quality wines use barrels.
- Finally, stay away from Groupon, Living Social and all of the other places the previous owners advertised. These services are great for bringing in new peoples but right now you aren't going to convert them to repeat customers because the tasting experience has too many problems.
Once again, I wish you luck, I want you to be successful. You have a lot of work ahead of you -- but it would be nice to count Lost Creek amongst the top Loudon County wineries. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!
Oh, and based on the picture above, I think your Chambourcin is almost ready to harvest.