LINCOLN, CA – Sometimes you don't have to travel far to find an award-winning wine. Rather than drive to Napa or Sonoma, good taste can be found down old Highway 65 just outside the town of Lincoln, in Placer County.

"I always knew this was going to be a great place to grow my wine," said Grover Lee, owner of Wise Vila Winery. "I just knew it. I knew the climate. I knew the soil."

Since 2009, Lee and winemaker Kevin Luther have meticulously made wine from a variety of estate grown grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Tempranillo, Touriga National, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

"I know that to make a great wine, you need an absolutely great grape," Lee said. "And to sort down to individual grape berry is what we do."

"As a winemaker, having this vineyard of estate-grown grapes that we care for the utmost, it makes it a lot easier to make a great wine," added Luther. "Because grapes for a winemaker are like your ingredients for a chef. If you don't have great grapes you can't make great wine."

And this year, the hard work paid off when Wise Vila Winery was recognized as the best in the state, winning the prestigious Golden State Winery of the Year, by the California State Fair.

"If you notice my feet are not quite touching the ground," said a happy and joking Lee. "A little floating, still."

It is just amazing. It is a dream come true," said Luther. "And we are still a young winery. We have barely started, and here we are."

Wise Villa Winery's wines recognized by the California State Fair:

  • 2013 Malbec - Gold 94 - Best of California & Best of Region
  • 2013 Tempranillo - Gold 95 - Best of Region
  • 2013 Wisdom of Wine (Cab-Merlot-Cab Franc) - Gold 94 - Best of Region
  • 2014 Torrontes - Gold 94 - Best of California & Best of Region
  • 2013 Zinfandel - Gold 94
  • 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon - Silver 90
  • 2013 California (Chardonnay) - Silver 88
  • 2013 Petite Sirah - Silver 89
  • 2013 Pinot Noir - Silver 91
  • 2013 Syrah - Silver 91
  • 2013 Sur Lies (Chardonnay) - Silver 90
  • 2014 Midnight Delight (Muscat-Chardonnay) - Silver 91
  • 2013 Sangiovese - Bronze 86
  • 2013 Touriga Nacional - Bronze 87
  • 2014 Pinot Noir - Bronze 86