Some of the greatest discoveries of mankind were made by accident.

Perhaps the best known (and beneficial) was made by scientist Dr. Alexander Fleming, who went on vacation for a few weeks and returned to see that his petri dishes had overgrown with mold. His discovery: penicillin. Other examples of benign errors include potato chips, plastic, Play-Doh and, drumroll… Viagra. I wanted to say something cute about wine and viagra, but think I will just leave that one alone.

Lane Tanner has been making wine for forty years, but she just might have made a discovery recently that will highlight her career. It all started a number of years back, when she was throwing a dinner party and making Thai food. At the end of the evening she had a heap of leftover ginger and didn’t know what to do with it. As Lane is a notorious miser, she wanted to figure out a way to preserve the ginger to use at a later date, but freezing it never seemed to work. She had an unfinished bottle of Chardonnay on the counter (also from the party), so she grabbed a container, dropped the ginger inside, and covered it with wine. Into the fridge it went, and slowly moved its way backward behind other items as the months went by.

A year later, Lane was cleaning out the fridge and was surprised to rediscover the container. Out of curiosity (something Lane is never short on), she opened it up and poured out the wine into a glass. Remarkably, the wine, now with a hint of ginger, was a fresh as the day that the cork was pulled.

The antioxidant properties of ginger root have long been known, but until this day, no one had thought to use it in wine to prevent oxidation. Perhaps, thought Lane and I, it could be used in place of sulfites to make a so-called ‘natural’ wine? In 2019 Lane we launched our first experiment and made a single keg of wine later dubbed ‘The OG,’ after Orange-Ginger, which was a skin-contact Pinot Gris combined with ginger-infused Grenache Blanc. The experiment was a whopping success. The OG is still tasting fresh and beautiful to this day.

The following year, Hey Ginger Chardonnay was born. We are now proud to release our second vintage of this fascinating wine, which only has three ingredients: Chardonnay grapes, fresh ginger, and yeast. The Chardonnay is sourced from old vines in the Goodchild Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley and picked at low sugar (and high acidity), giving it even more stability in the bottle. We macerate the fresh ginger and place it into giant tea bags, which is then dropped into the tank of wine during fermentation.  The result? Think Chablis with a slice of ginger. And let me tell you, there is no better accompaniment to Asian cuisine.

This year I finally got up the guts to submit the wine for critical review. I was worried that the wine establishment would balk at anything but grapes going into a precious bottle of vino. I sent samples to the Wine Enthusiast, albeit with an explanation of our technique, and waited a few months to receive our review. Much to my delight, it was awarded 90 points and Editor’s Choice. Bravo! Let the ginger revolution begin!

We are offering Hey Ginger Chardonnay at only $25 per bottle for the next two weeks. Get some while you can. And better yet, build your order to six bottles or more - of any Lumen wines - and we will spring for the shipping.

- Will Henry

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