It all started with the crazy notion of making wine. Wouldn’t that be a fun thing to try? Wouldn’t that be a great thing for the family to all do together, side by side. After all, we already knew that when these two Southern brothers fell for two Midwestern sisters, anything became possible. As for our wine undertaking, we doubted that it would really work out, but we never thought it couldn’t. And so began the adventure. We got our first batch of grapes from an established winery in Temecula, CA. Along with the grapes came a lot of advice and a lot of enthusiasm. One of the greatest things we will always take away from this experience is that wine makers want you to succeed; want you to join the party and flourish.
So, we got that first 100 pounds of grapes. It seemed like such a large number at the time. We sat on our parent’s front lawn- the six of us; brothers and sisters, mother and father, husbands and wives and de-stemmed all of those grapes by hand, for hours and hours.
Sitting on our aluminum lawn chairs, we talked, laughed and teased each other. We reminisced about the crazy things we'd each done in our lives and how they had, ultimately, brought us together. Curious neighbors came over to lend a hand. We got better and more efficient, as a team. There seemed to be a new clarity to our purpose and our family. That was the day, the moment in time, when our newfound hobby turned in to our collective passion.
Matt was the mastermind- he got us all involved. Elissa kept our spirits up. Holly was the historian- always keeping track of where we were, and Mike was quality control- although we are pretty sure he was just interested in eating the grapes.
By the time we were done our 100 pounds of grapes had diminished enough to fit into one large garbage can. We were sticky and our backs hurt. Mike had a terrible stomachache. It had been the best day, EVER.
Since that first “harvest”, Matt became enthralled with the industry, and took full advantage of the opportunity, continually asking questions and learning all he could about every aspect of wine making. He learned about AVAs, varietals, winemaking techniques and vineyard practices. The family sought help from a close family friend for a label design and researched how to market a wine brand. Matt and Elissa joined the local Cellarmasters Home Wine Club so they could grow their understanding of the culture of winemaking. They soon became integral members of the organization, leading Sensory Evaluation Clinics and moving the group forward during their two stints as President and Co- President of the organization. Matt’s passion for winemaking was quickly established and he took full advantage of the mentorship program thru Cellarmasters and studied under established winemakers and growers- all the while continuing to grow our dream and the volume of our wine.
The hands-on winemaking education was furthered in 2013 when we partnered with Cantara Cellars who welcomed us in and gave us the ability to make our wine in their bonded facilities- allowing us to create our first wine sales in the Spring of 2017.
Matt and the crew never stops thinking about how we can improve the quality of grapes produced by Lester Family Cellars. Matt’s driven curiosity helps our Family flourish- whether it is a grandiose experiment in building a Cob pizza oven; blending and roasting coffee beans (a favorite of Holly’s); distilling beer or growing hops, Matt never takes the easy road but instead builds a rich foundation based on curiosity, education, experimentation and togetherness. All of these investigations help grow our understanding of texture, flavor, patience and, ultimately, wine making.
LFC is dedicated to producing small lot, handcrafted bottlings of exceptional quality varietal wines from the most premium vineyards in the Santa Barbara County. We search for vineyards which produce grapes with beautiful concentration and intense varietal character. These grapes are hand harvested, hand sorted, fermented in small lots, and basket pressed to ensure the highest possible quality and true expression of the vineyard and of the winemaker. After fermentation is complete the wines are transferred to American Oak barrels for aging. These red wines are aged for at least two years in barrel prior to being hand bottled.
Every season since that first 100 pounds has brought us new adventures, bigger quantities of grapes, more serious decisions, greater unity as a family and continued success. Each year we invest in more equipment and consistently build our relationships with our key growers. Our hopes and dreams are ever changing and growing, and we look forward to seeing them all come to fruition- however that may be redefined. For now, we invite you to come along with us as part of our journey, join the family and drink some great wine.
We believe that The Family Vote is the purest form of democracy. We believe in long walks and in Uber. We believe that cut flowers CAN change your outlook on life. We believe that “Try Me” is a state of mind. We love getting actual letters in the mailbox and having vegetables delivered to the front door by a farmers Co-op.
We wish milk still came in a glass jar. We believe that herbs from your garden make anything you are cooking taste better. We see the beauty in old, rusted farm equipment and peeling wood as well as in clean surfaces and shiny objects. We believe in red, white AND blue states. We believe that laughter is exercise.
We get annoyed when we cry- but we do it a lot anyway. We think words are important- books, songs, conversations count. We like being the center of attention and the funniest one in the room. We look at PS4 as training for any possible future Apocalypse. Our hobbies are diversified and include mining for gold as well as quilting. We think hockey is way more interesting than baseball, basketball and golf. We like to grow stuff that we can later use. We believe that wanderlust is what keeps a person young. We put bacon on everything. We are willing to travel anywhere to see our favorite band. We believe you should be kind, gracious, patient and helpful in this life because it is the right thing to do and not because it is a bargaining chip for what happens next. We don’t always practice what we preach. We believe that making espresso or the perfect paella is not a pain. We believe that you can learn everything you need to know about life from going to a play. We like appetizers just as much as a “real” meal. We LOVE meat and potatoes, fried chicken and biscuits and gravy but we mostly eat fish and vegetables. We love rain but hate humidity. We have a family whistle that we use when we lose someone in the grocery store. We believe that you can fix anything by reading about it on a chat line on the internet but some of us do not have the patience to do so. We know that the Georgia Bulldogs are the best team out there. We believe that the drop in as opposed to slide in method for Corn Hole is the better technique. We love a good bonfire and oyster bake as well as a formal dinner. We prefer to not wear our shoes at the latter. We cherish the memories of our grandparents, value their things and wish we had asked them more questions. We don’t believe you have to add a lot of ingredients and additives to something to make it better. Sometimes perfect is not fancy. Something does not always have to last a long time.
Who is the Team?
Elissa Rosenberg- CXO, Chief Experience Officer
Mike Lester- CFO and Quality Assurance Manager
Holly Lester- VP of Creative Services
Dr. Donald and Jo Rosenberg- (terrified but supportive parents)