Lucky Rock is the embodiment of the american lifestyle and approach to wine. Coming from a family of gold-miners, brothers Aaron and Jesse Inman were both influenced by the growing wine culture in Sonoma and their “fancy uncle”, having both learned their way while working at August Briggs winery in Napa Valley. Their philosophy, modern and innovative, comes with rock-solid winemaking and great wines without pretension.
Both Aaron and Jesse are fond of tattoos and street art, and they blend this passion with their heritage in both the wines and their distinctive labels dominated by a Californian snake bending around a pickaxe, the latter reminding the goldmines where they grew up. Everything about this winery conveys pure energy and love for life and their young owners have the drive and knowledge to have an impact in the wine industry.
"Winemaking, for us, is about letting the vineyard do most of the work. Basically, it is our job not to screw up what nature gave us. We do some minimal shepherding of fermentation and cellaring, only lending a hand to bring out a nuance here or there, but all said and done, less is more. We like fruit and balance in a wine, so grapes are picked at a ripeness level where both of these attributes are optimized in the finished wine."
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your winery?
I’m Aaron Inman, and with my brother Jesse I founded Lucky Rock in 2013. We grew up in California and we were influenced by the constant growing wine culture of this state. When we were young words like “French Paradox” were common and people in California started to get more comfortable with wine drinking.
In every family there is that “fancy uncle Joe” and in our case that fancy uncle was running a winery in Napa valley. That’s where we had our first experience with winemaking. It was tough at the beginning but we eventually fell in love with both products when we realized that: ”hey, wine is better than beer!”.
Our background and social circle, originally made of a strong blue collar community, influenced our style: we love street art and tattoos (even though I’m the least intimidating tattooed guy ever!). We want our wine to have that, both on the labels and inside the bottle.
How do you normally enjoy drinking wine?
Wine is a daily companion, rare to have a meal where I’m not enjoying a glass of wine. Wine is a great way to socialize and shouldn’t be intimidating at all.
Among wine drinkers there will always be 5% of “nerds” that really want to dig into the wine specifics, I believe I’m among those kinds of drinkers but others just want to have a glass of great wine. I enjoy the discovery of new wines from different areas of the world.
How does local history and culture influence your lifestyle and winemaking?
I did grow up in Sonoma, so wine was ingrained in the local culture and lifestyle. Here there are a lot of GREAT restaurants and that fueled the interest in wine. There are a lot of fun things going on around wine here, making it an all-rounded experience.
We do not focus on a single area but we try to get the best from Sonoma and Napa, assuring a reasonably priced and high quality wine for our customers, as we do not want to be “another pretentious wine company” but making wine accessible. Going to watch a baseball match? You should be able to get a good glass of wine like you can have a beer! The lack of single-serving options for wine is something that makes it hard to access and enjoy, that’s why we started our new canned-wine format.
What is your best memory of winemaking, so far?
A few years ago, I was alone in the vineyards at 5 am and I felt deeply connected to the work I’m doing and the way I’m living. It was a moment of pure mindfulness and bliss, I was very grateful and happy of choosing the path of winemaker.
Can you tell us about the first wine you ever made?
It was the Pinot Noir, in 2006, we always had special feelings for this grape and the wine it can produce.
Tell us what wine represents for you?
For me wine is respect for hard work and skilled labour. That comes from the environment I’ve grown up in, from my hippy, gold-miner parents to my “fancy uncle” winemaker.
What do you think about the future of sustainable winemaking?
Most of our growers are organic certified. We know that they are doing the right thing when it comes to environmental respect. As winemakers we did a huge step towards the innovation of how wine is consumed and sold with our wine cans. Not only do we provide premium quality wines in single serving sizes, but we reduce the carbon footprint (when compared to bottles) up to 65%. The aluminium is in fact fully recycled and more environmentally friendly.