LOST COAST LOVE
Story and Photos by Tyler Whiteside
Nestled off the Pacific Ocean and protected by jagged hills of emerald green, lies the small but beautiful Lost Coast Vineyard. The setting is serene and relaxing, just as one would expect to find in the remote outpost of Petrolia, California. Sunset Magazine has called the area “too lovely to be believed, perhaps too beautiful to last,” and a leading science journal has called it the, “top remaining wild place in California.” Those of us fortunate enough to live year round here in Humboldt, often take for granted the awesome beauty of our locale, but a trip to Petrolia will serve as a quick reminder that we live in God’s Country.
Lost Coast Vineyards consists of 8 acres of perfectly manicured grapevines etched into the hillside. The neatness of the land serves as testimony to the hours, weeks, months and years of grueling labor that has shaped this unlikely vineyard on the ocean. Unlikely, because The Lost Coast is not a place most in the viticulture business would find favorable for grape production. For most varietals the daytime temperatures are a bit too cool and fog frequently blankets the area, but Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Nebbiolo, and Viognier grapes seem to do very well with enough love and attention. During our visit, the grapes were approaching their optimal brix (sugar content) and were soon to be harvested. That’s when the fun starts.
The Lost Coast Vineyard was established in 2002 by Dick and Ester Cogswell. It is comprised of 8 acres of vines in Petrolia and another 8 acres parcel located in Hoopa, where the higher temperatures allow some of the other varietals to do better. On the Petrolia land, he employed Gary and Arlene Rogers, who had been caretaking the property for him before that, to see what they could do with the climate. Before making wine for the Cogswells, Gary spent 18 years in Washington State making wine for his parents, so he has a rich background in the process and it shines through in his reds at Lost Coast.
My personal favorite was the Nebbiolo, a fruity red alive with hints of apple and cherry and ending with a nice smooth finish. Not too heavy and full of good flavor.
Of the whites offered, the Viognier was at the top of my list with an almost tropical, mango and kiwi thing going on. It was golden and clean, with a nice creamy mouth and crisp finish. Good stuff.
Unfortunately,the Petrolia vineyard is not open to the public for tours, but all their wines are available locally at most natural food stores in the Eureka and Arcata area and I encourage you to locate a retailer near you and try one for yourself. They’re delicious.
Lost Coast Vineyards, Inc.
795 Conklin Creek Road
P.O. Box 180 (Mailing)
Petrolia, CA 95558