Lava Cap Winery: Volcanic History and Handcrafted Wines
At the end of a tree-lined road in Placerville, California, Lava Cap Winery greets guests with a simple charm all its own. The tasting room isn’t big, but has the necessities: a rustic wooden tasting bar; a cozy wood burning stove; and a wrap-around deck offering jaw-dropping views.
“Who knew when Lava Cap opened in 1986 how the winery would develop over the years?” smiles Beth Jones. But if anything, both newcomers and loyal fans are enchanted with the quaintness of the property. When they begin to sample the wines, they quickly become more enthused. They are amazed by the diversity of the portfolio—Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel—considering that nearly all the grapes are estate grown.
But this isn’t any ordinary estate. Lava Cap’s high mountain setting provides cool growing conditions and its undulating hills composed of prime volcanic soil provide a variety of microclimates to grow a range of grape varieties. That’s what drove Winemaker Tom Jones’ father, David Jones, a professional geologist, to the land in the first place. Back in 1981, the entire family rolled up its sleeves and transformed a pear orchard into a vine- yard. Today, David’s son Charlie is the viticulturist, overseeing the family’s three distinct vineyards.
Early on, Tom completed his Master in Enology and Viticulture at UC Davis, and he put his education to work crafting wine at the growing winery. He is a consummate professional, dedicated to handcrafting wines with full flavors, intense varietal character, and complexity. Tasting room guests are quick to recognize this. They often settle back at a table on the deck or in the garden area to appreciate their favorite wine and savor the quaint country setting. Some say it’s hard to believe that this serene spot is only 40 minutes from Sacramento. Everyone says it’s hard to leave. But, judging from the dedication of this family and the quality of Lava Cap wines, they’ll be able to visit time and time again.