Winery opens on Kodiak

Posted: Sunday, May 28, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- Kodiak is getting its first winery. The Kodiak Island Winery, opening next weekend, is for the adventurous. It's at the end of a 40-mile gravel road.

But there's a great view of Chiniak Bay from John and Judy Lucas' wine-tasting room in the top floor of their winery, a converted barn. Berries and rhubarb are the stars in their lineup.

''The way they do in France, we named some of our wines after areas in Chiniak,'' John Lucas says. ''Thumbs-up Mixed Berry for Thumbs-up Cove; Rosin Red, our salmonberry wine named after Roslyn River; Winter Wonderland Blueberry; and Romantic Rhubarb -- herbal lore says there are aphrodisiac qualities in rhubarb!''

The vintners have been working on a variety of dry and dessert wines, including salmonberry champagne, rhubarb champagne, and rhubarb, salmonberry, blueberry and mixed berry wines.

''Our wines are all-natural products, made from our own hand-picked fruit and berries or from organic berry suppliers,'' he said.

After spending 20 summers tendering in Bristol Bay, the couple wanted a land-based business.

''I've been making wine for about 20 years, so we thought, 'How about a winery?''' said Judy Lucas.

The wine tasting room will feature local, handmade art for sale as well as picnic baskets stuffed with the makings for an outdoor meal, as well as a corkscrew.

The winery's label is a collage with a Kodiak bear, a Native kayaker and a Russian Orthodox church, plus salmonberries and the mountains of Kodiak.

The Chiniak wine makers plan to hire pickers to harvest berries and pay them by the pound.

As for the rhubarb supply, Judy has been growing her own for years -- currently about 125 plants and adding more as she enlarges her garden.

The rhubarb wine is an especially pretty color, like a rose', she says, but dry and sweet like a Zinfandel.

Kodiak Island Winery champagnes and wines will be available at one store in Kodiak, as well as at the winery.

''We hope to have our wines available at some local restaurants as well,'' Judy Lucas said.


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