Winemaker Seth Cripe, taking the founding philosophy of LOLA to heart, has balanced the age-old techniques and finesse of winemaking with his straightforward and honest approach, to produce naturally elegant and affordable wines. Trained in the Napa Valley tradition he credits Clarke Swanson, Marco Cappelli and Chuck Wagner as his mentors in wine and Robert Mondavi as his inspiration to build LOLA into an international wine brand that represents the natural beauty of California wines at affordable prices. Seth has worked in all facets of winemaking, from farming to research, at some of the most renowned wineries in the world before he set out to create his version of great coastal wines in 2008 when he established LOLA.
Seth Cripe showed interest in wine at the young age of 12. He started reading anything and everything that had to do with wine from cultural history, viticulture, winemaking and the general world of wine. Seth even attempted making some wines from wild Concord grapes from a few vines that were growing in the nearby fishing village of Cortez. At 13, he started working as a dishwasher and busboy at the Beach Bistro, one of Florida’s top restaurants, which happened to be directly across the street from Seth’s home. It is here that he was able to fuel his passion for wine as he was exposed to the extensive wine list. Beach Bistro owner Sean Murphy encouraged Seth to taste the many great wines on the list to fully understand them. Sean helped open Seth’s eyes to the world of wines and continued encouraging him to pursue his passion and dream.
THE YEARS OF LEARNING
After meeting W. Clarke Swanson at the Beach Bistro, Seth left Anna Maria Island in 1997, at the age of 17 to follow his passion for winemaking and work at Swanson Vineyards in Oakville under the watchful eye of winemaker Marco Cappelli. During his 4 years at Swanson, Seth learned about all facets of viticulture and winemaking. In 2000, Marco encouraged Seth to travel and explore other wine regions in the world and helped him to land a job in Rutherglen, Australia where he spent a year working with Pfeiffer Vineyards making the areas famed fortified Ports and Muscats as well as a variety of table wines. After returning from Australia in the summer of 2001, Seth was offered a job in the winery at Caymus Vineyards in Rutherford. During his seven years at Caymus, Seth worked in all aspects of the vineyard and winery operations and spent 3 months every year in France researching wine and viticulture progressions and helping to implement what he learned back at the winery in Rutherford.
THE START OF LOLA
In 2008, Seth founded LOLA Wines focusing on coastal pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling. He aims to make “naturally balanced, high quality wines that are moderately priced”. Seth credits the opportunity at Caymus to work abroad in Europe, specifically Burgundy, France, which contributed to his vision for LOLA. “I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time in Europe, so I have a preference for wines that are more delicate. When I started the LOLA brand, I wanted to make wines in an elegant, old-world style that is authentic and unpretentious.” Today, Seth often revisits those wine regions, which continue to serve as a source of inspiration for the LOLA wines.
“As a winemaker, I hope to create wines that can be enjoyed by everyone. As an entrepreneur, I hope to build a wine brand that can compete with large wineries in price but exceed in quality and authenticity,” says Seth.