Lane Tanner Winery (Winemaker and Owner)
Sierra Madre Vineyard (Winemaker)
Lane Tanner was born and raised in Kelseyville, California. She received a B.S. in Chemistry from San Jose State University in 1976 and subsequently went into the air pollution industry. In 1980, she quit that industry after finding herself stationed in Glendive, Montana, for the winter. Her search for a new career took her back to her hometown. She picked up a temporary job at a local business, Konocti Winery, labeling bottles. They found out she was a chemist and asked her to do some laboratory work for them. The first day she was in the laboratory, she was introduced to Andre Tchelistcheff, their consultant, as the new enologist; she had no clue what that title meant. All day long, Andre kept telling the winemaker “Have Lane test this, have Lane check that”. At the end of the day, the people at Konocti asked her to stay on because Mr. Tchelistcheff definitely liked her, and they didn’t want to tell him that they had lied to him. Her new career was born.
Mr. Tchelistcheff recommended Lane for the enology job at Firestone Winery in Santa Barbara County in 1981. She took Alison Green’s place when Alison became winemaker. While there, Lane continued to learn from Andre and Alison, as well as honing her sense of smell and taste.
In 1984, Lane started her own company with one client. She began making wines for the Hitching Post restaurant, a locally famous Santa Barbara Counry steak house, and, in 1989, instituted the Lane Tanner label.
Lane started out making Pinot Noir under this label, and her methods for Pinot production did not change much over the years. She used the best Pinot grapes available in Santa Barbara County. Lane had the pleasure of working with Julia’s Vineyard and Bien Nacido Vineyard fruit as well as that from Melville Vineyard, Sanford and Benedict, and Sierra Madre.
Lane’s strategy for producing the finest wines is harvesting the grapes when they taste right, not when the sugar hits a certain number. She strives for maturity and complexity in her wines but crafts them so as to retain the sparkle of youth. Pinot Noir was her main wine, but she also made a few cases of Syrah under her own label. For those of you who love Pinot; you can understand: Pinot Noir is the most responsive, delicate, fickle, fragile grape to work with, and Lane is hooked on it. Although she no longer produces wine under the Lane Tanner label, her production at the time was small (600–2400 cases a year) because she was a one-woman operation and couldn’t stand the idea of someone else touching her “babies”. Her last vintage under her label was 2009.
Lane is the winemaker at Sierra Madre Vineyard starting with the 2012 vintage. She began sourcing grapes from there under the Hitching Post label and continued using them with her own label until 1997. In her own words, she says, "Sierra Madre Vineyard has always been my favorite vineyard, and I'm thrilled to be back working with this extraordinary piece of land. This is my dream job." In her new position she will be making Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Noir