Mark Lucchesi turned a family pastime and passion for wine making into one of the area's most inviting local gems. Lucca Winery, located in Ripon, is a product of more than three generations of handcrafted Central Valley wine makers, and the only small family-owned winery of its kind in town.
“I grew up making homemade wine,” says Lucchesi, who remembers making it with his father on their family farm in Oakley, Calif. Lucchesi’s grandfather emigrated from Italy to the Delta region where he bought land and planted grapes, almonds and apricots. After each harvest, the Lucchesis would make their own wine from the remaining grapes. The Lucchesi Family Farm has since expanded to include more than 400 acres of vines, and provides Lucca Winery with the selection of Rhône grapes for red varietals such as Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Carignane, and Mourvèdre.
Mark has since brought his family’s tradition from Oakley to Ripon. After years of making small batches to share with friends and family, and experimenting with different blends, Lucchesi officially established his winery in 2011. He describes the winery as a retirement career, crafting the types of wine he has always enjoyed.
“The community has been very supportive,” he adds, “people are excited.”
Friends and family who share the passion in the process help to run the winery, which got its name from the region of Italy where the Lucchesi family traces its roots.
“The word is just getting around,” he says.
As you drive down a gravel driveway lined with peach and almond trees, the family dog, Lucy, greets visitors. The tasting room is located just a few yards away from the family home, where they sometimes host weddings and events for close friends. The wine-tasting experience at Lucca Winery offers its guests a chance to get to know Lucchesi, ask questions, and most importantly, have fun as they relax in a charming and refreshingly cool cellar decorated by wine barrels.
The selections at Lucca Winery are for those with a taste for dry/bitter red wines, rich with Tannin, and high in alcohol content. However, he recently released a Sauvignon Blanc, described as silky and slightly toasted. Old Vine Mourvèdre is Lucchesi’s personal favorite, which he and his guests describe as being very drinkable with anything from meat to sweets.
Lucchesi says what makes his wine so soft and smooth is the grapes he uses.
“Wine is a character of the grapes you make it with,” he adds, “you can make [bad] wine with good grapes, but you can’t make good wine from bad grapes.”
Although making wine is rooted in the Lucchesi family, Mark does not consider himself a chemist or a snob. He prides himself in the accessibility of his business; his laid back attitude is genuine and enjoyable.
“We have a lot of fun here,” says Lucchesi, “whenever the door is open, come on in.”Find Lucca Winery products at:
O’Brien’s Market on Dale Road in Modesto, or by visiting the website to order or make a wine-tasting appointment.Pairing:
Try the 100% Old Vine Mourvèdre – an earthy and deep red wine – pair with braised short ribs, steak or even chocolate.Lucca Winery Tasting Menu:
2011 Grande Red Wine
2011 Vite Vecchia Zinfandel
2011 Petite Sirah-Zinfandel
Bottles range from $14 - $20. Discounts are available for bulk orders.Contact Info:
For a complete tasting menu, and to schedule and appointment, contact Mark Lucchesi at
16265 E. River Rd
Ripon, CA 95366
* For upcoming Fall events such as open houses and tasting events, join the mailing list or visit the website.Rhône Grape Varieties used in Lucca Wines:
These types of grapes are typically grown in the Southern region of France near the Rhône River. It is also one of the most commonly grown grapes in California.
Syrah – Smokey aroma with flavors of blueberries, blackberry and full of body and substantial
Petite Sirah: A cross between Peloursin and Syrah grapes, deep in color and Tannins.
Grenache: The lush texture creates aromas of licorice, red fruits and black pepper.
Carignane: Old Vineyard grapes high in acidity, color and Tannin.
Mourvèdre: Chocolate, leathery and earthly flavors of plum and spice.