Locals Only

Wine merchant keeps it home grown, farm to bottle

By Gabrielle Myers
March 2024

On many blocks in the grid, a range of restaurants serve food with valley-grown ingredients. Local wine bars and craft breweries develop their own presence using grapes and hops from around the region.

A true community spirit is on display when the city comes together for a night out.

Thriving businesses in the grid win over customers with cutting-edge flavors and a love of how diverse cultures make us strong. Voluptuary & Lucid Wines reflects the inventive farm-to-bottle flair.

Founder Kevin Luther was born and raised in Sacramento and educated at UC Davis. After traveling the world to learn the wine business, Luther returned and put his experience to work. He enjoys giving back to his community.

“I believe in virtuous cycles,” he says. “In a community, we can feed each other with mutually beneficial relationships.”

Luther was raised in a working-class family of farm and wood workers. He tells of his grandma rearing 12 kids on her own after her husband died. Luther’s father picked fruit in Clarksburg and Lodi to help make ends meet.

Using his knowledge from winemaking in Paso Robles, Sonoma, Oregon, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, plus more than 10 years working in a Sierra foothills winery, Luther began making his own wines in 2017.

Lucid Wines was set to open in March 2020, but pandemic lockdowns forced Luther and his brother to adapt their approach to save their business.

They held virtual wine tastings that caught on among people stuck at home. The brothers turned what could have ended their dream into a way of expanding their reach. Lucid sent customers samples in small bottles and led people in online tastings.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020, the strategy produced $1 million in sales.

Other companies saw potential in virtual tastings. The market shifted when lockdowns eased, and Lucid adjusted its approach by opening an event space and tasting room at 10th and R streets.

The event space and tasting room, next to Fox & Goose, offer a piece of history and warehouse setting with plants, books from Luther’s father, art, wine barrels and stainless-steel tanks.

Luther has developed more than 20 varieties of wine and three types of port. His eyes light up when he discusses combinations and flavor profiles created with woods such as cherry, maple, chestnut, cypress, peach, apple, mesquite and even grapevine cuttings.

He uses wood cubes, staves and chips to influence the taste as wines age in Lucid’s stainless-steel vats. Finesse allows the wine to retain bold fruit flavors accented with infused woods.

Pink and red ports are aged in neutral oak barrels. White port and most of Lucid’s wine ages in stainless steel. To cut down on glass bottle waste, wine is moved into taps in the tasting section and poured into glasses. Bottles are refillable.

Lucid either grows its own organic grapes or buys from local organic farmers. By pulling grapes from small lots from Lodi to the foothills, Lucid captures the region’s distinctive agriculture. Only wild and organic yeasts and minimal sulfates go into the product.

Lucid emphasizes its regional legacy with gifts to local nonprofits. A dollar of each bottle sale goes to a nonprofit, and the shop offers case giveaways. So far, $60,000 has been donated, with a goal to reach $100,000.

Lucid Winery is open daily except Monday at 1015 R St.; (916) 384-0076; lucidwinery.com.

Gabrielle Myers can be reached at gabriellemyers11@gmail.com. Her latest book of poetry, “Too Many Seeds,” can be ordered from fishinglinepress.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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