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Vivian Emberley
March 7, 2024 | Vivian Emberley

Lightpost Winery brings knowledge to winemaking - By John McKay

If you’re like me you rarely enter a weekend without some kind of plan and cherish the times you can be spontaneous waking up on a weekend morning. If that’s the case I think I’ve got a great spontaneous fun destination that’s worth planning around. 

Getting up on a weekend morning, or any afternoon for that matter, I recommend considering a visit to one of only two winery tasting rooms in Morgan Hill proper, with this week’s column featuring Lightpost Winery. 

Housed in one of the old Thomas Kinkade buildings in north Morgan Hill, it’s a few hundred yards from the U.S. 101 Cochrane Road offramp—thus it’s easy to get to. It’s also a wonderful surprise to find such an inviting and calming place to gather that is away from the downtown.

So what is Lightpost Winery about? It’s about an intelligent and energetic woman who immigrated to the United States and continued to follow a dream. In 2002, Sofia Fedotova arrived in the U.S. and started an electronics business with her partner, John, in their home. Fulfilling the dream of small business success, Sofia and her partner pursued another dream—making their own wine after experiencing the fabulous wines of the Napa and Paso Robles areas.

Sofia immersed herself and earned a winemaker certificate from the University of California, Davis viticulture and oenology (that’s growing and harvesting the grapes and making wine from the grapes, respectively) program. 

Being armed with the knowledge to understand how to make wine and what makes up a good wine is one thing; but putting that knowledge into practice to make good wine usually takes some experience. Luck would have it that they would meet a man with plenty of experience not only making wine in California but who grew up making it in France, which is generally recognized as the home of the best wines before California presented its world class challenge.

Christian Roguenant brought his wealth of experience to Morgan Hill and Lightpost Winery. Sofia and partner John were now prepared to produce some stunning and award winning wines, and that production continues to this day.

Driving up to the winery you will see an industrial looking building much nicer than most—as might be expected from the former home of the Thomas Kinkade art studios. There is a large, colorful wine bottle sculpture that pairs nicely with an oversized spinning wine glass sculpture. 

You will also see the “Wishing Tree,” a tree that accepts ribbons tied to its branches as you make a secret wish. Keeping your wish secret until it comes true will surely be more difficult than finding a wonderfully fulfilling wine just inside.  

The tasting room is airy and bright with modern touches. There are tables outside with heat lamps and a wonderful view of those features at the entrance.

As wonderful as approaching and entering the tasting room might be, the real treat is the wines. 

Specializing in blends from the Rhone and Bordeaux regions of France, Lightpost Winery’s offerings are expansive. I counted no less than 25 offerings including sparkling wines, crisp to oaky whites, petite pinots to big reds and dessert wines. They truly have a wine for everyone with different offerings from the same varietals, including eight pinot noir options alone! 

They make great wines and you don’t need to take my word for it. Lightpost Winery was honored with “Wine of the Year” at the 2022 Monterey Wine Competition for their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Paso Robles sourced fruit. Their 2019 Saveria Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains) earned 94 points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine (that’s a big deal). That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Lightpost has a broad range of offerings which should appeal to anyone in a tasting room that has something for everyone. Younger wine drinkers should appreciate the modern tasting room; families can even enjoy their wines with their children in the Family Room; a private tasting room is available; and pets are always welcome.

I asked Sofia what she would like you all to know about Lightpost Winery, and it all came down to love and passion. The passion to care about the craft of winemaking and learning everything you can to make the best wines. The love and passion that drives one to make the best wine with the hard work involved from tending the vineyard to hours and hours of blending to make the wine just so.

I feel Lightpost Winery is another one of our hidden gems just ripe for discovering. The quality of the wines, the variety of offerings, the comfortable yet modern tasting room with a place for everyone. Take some food and sip away the distractions of our modern world.

I hope you take some of your valuable time and treat yourself to a local gem of winemaking. You deserve it. 

You’ll find Lightpost Winery at 900 Lightpost Way in Morgan Hill, the doors are open 11am-6pm Wednesday through Sunday.

Time Posted: Mar 7, 2024 at 12:22 PM Permalink to Lightpost Winery brings knowledge to winemaking - By John McKay Permalink
Vivian Emberley
February 21, 2024 | Vivian Emberley

Recognition of our Santa Cruz Mountains Wines

A bit further north is Lightpost Winery in Morgan Hill, off the Cochrane exit of Highway 101. The tasting room is open Wednesday-Sunday, and the seating inside and out is as plentiful as the wine selection. Tasting room manager Vivian Emberley guides tasters through single-vineyard chardonnays and pinot noirs, as well as cabernet sauvignon from famed Bates Ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains, plus a supple cabernet franc from Paso Robles.

Current standouts are the 2019 Spanish Springs (SLO) pinot noir, 2019 Ferrari Ranch (Santa Cruz Mountains), 2019 Santa Rita Hills pinot noir and 2018 Sevastian, a blend of Cabernet sauvignon from Bates Ranch and merlot from Zayante Vineyard, both in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA.

Time Posted: Feb 21, 2024 at 3:26 PM Permalink to Recognition of our Santa Cruz Mountains Wines Permalink
Vivian Emberley
January 11, 2024 | Vivian Emberley

Valentine Dinner at the Winery

 Join us for a romantic evening at Lightpost Winery on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 7:00 PM.

Indulge in a delightful dining experience amidst the enchanting ambiance of our winery. Celebrate love with your special someone as you savor a delectable menu specially crafted for this occasion. Our talented chefs will tantalize your taste buds with a selection of exquisite dishes, perfectly paired with our finest wines. Immerse yourself in the romantic atmosphere, surrounded by the picturesque vineyards and twinkling lights.

Enjoy the company of your loved one as you create unforgettable memories together. Whether you are a wine enthusiast or simply seeking a unique and intimate evening, our Valentine Dinner at the Winery is the perfect choice. Reservations are highly recommended as seats are limited. Book your spot now and secure an enchanting night filled with love, laughter, and exceptional flavors. Don't miss out on this extraordinary event at Lightpost Winery!

Please go to our website to view menu and purchase - www.lightpostwinery.com

Time Posted: Jan 11, 2024 at 2:42 PM Permalink to Valentine Dinner at the Winery Permalink
Vivian Emberley
October 22, 2023 | Vivian Emberley

2023 Sunset Wine Competition

Congratulations to our Winemakers Christian and Sofia!

  • -2021 Lightpost Winery 2021 Pinot Noir Saveria Santa Cruz Mountains Vintage Reserve Double Gold 95 Beautiful terroir notes. Rich, good spice, ripe berry fruit, cherry cola. Retail $58 - BUY NOW
  • 2021 Lightpost Winery 2021 Pinot Noir SCM Santa Cruz Mountains Vintner's Reserve Double Gold 96 Tart red fruit, cranberry, classic Pinot. Retail $58 - BUY NOW
  • 2021 Lightpost Winery 2021 Pinot Noir SRH Sta. Rita Hills Vintage Reserve Gold 91 Spice, citrus, red raspberry. Retail $58 - BUY NOW
  • 2019 Lightpost Winery Sparkling Jules de Brut San Luis Obispo County Reserve Brut Gold 90 Well balanced, warm pastry, nice acidity, length extended, great for a wedding. Retail $42 - BUY NOW
Time Posted: Oct 22, 2023 at 1:41 PM Permalink to 2023 Sunset Wine Competition Permalink
Vivian Emberley
June 12, 2023 | Vivian Emberley

Savoring a California Wine Country Far From Napa and the Crowds

About 10 miles away, the tasting room at Lightpost Winery in Morgan Hill can be found in a ho-hum office park. But what it lacks in pastoral ambience, it made up for in intellectual heft. There I met Sofia Fedotova, an electronics recycling entrepreneur who made money in tech before becoming a vintner. In 2018, she opened Lightpost and teamed with Christian Roguenant, who grew up in Burgundy and is Lightpost’s head winemaker.

Lightpost planted a vineyard in Morgan Hill seven years ago but, for now, mostly gets its wine grapes from growers in the Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Russian River and Paso Robles regions. Ms. Fedotova poured me a taste of her favorite cabernet sauvignon. We talked about what to serve it with (she said steak, I suggested rack of lamb) and, for another 20 minutes, we discussed the area’s weather patterns, soil chemistry and the challenge of farming in today’s climate.

Of course, you would expect a winemaker to know more about the terrain than the average guest. But the staff was equally knowledgeable. Vivian, the tasting room manager, gave us an impromptu lesson, too, with a side-by-side comparison of how grapes vary by vintage. A larger, more corporate tasting room would be hard-pressed to take the time. Already the young winery is attracting attention; its 2018 reserve cabernet sauvignon from Paso Robles has won state competitions. A friend and I stayed for nearly two hours and, between us, left with three bottles of their La Grande Sofi sparkling rose from 2018 ($44 each).

Special thank to Laura M. Holson who is an award-winning feature writer and visual editor who has chronicled the intersection of money, power and celebrity in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond. She explores the lives of powerful cultural figures and has written extensively about creativity. IG: @lauramholson / Twitter:  More about Laura M. Holson

Time Posted: Jun 12, 2023 at 12:51 PM Permalink to Savoring a California Wine Country Far From Napa and the Crowds Permalink
Vivian Emberley
December 14, 2022 | Vivian Emberley

California Wines & Wineries

This is my 10th year publishing the Best Wines Tasted in the year. This year a little over 1,700 wines were tasted at various events, wineries, judging wine competitions, meals with friends and pulling wine out of the cellar. Just under 10% made this list. The criteria is first broken down by two categories, one being up to $50 and the other being $51 and up. The wines selected range from $10 to well over $200, something for everyone’s budget. The wines chosen are from my log book keeping track of each wine tasted or consumed over the year with my personal rating. The major considerations are color, aromatics, flavor and finish. Also playing a role in the “up to $51” is a value component. Many new wineries appeared this year and I also added a foreign wine listing. Many of the wines listed have stories written about them at https://californiawinesandwineries.com and on a laptop or desktop computer, you will find search engine area on the website on the right hand side, type in the winery/wine and hit enter.


Time Posted: Dec 14, 2022 at 12:22 PM Permalink to California Wines & Wineries Permalink Comments for California Wines & Wineries Comments (2)
Vivian Emberley
June 11, 2022 | Vivian Emberley

Lightpost Winery at SF Emmy Gala 2022



Lightpost Winery at SF Emmy Gala 2022

The Gala’s signature white wine is Lightpost Winery’s Award-Winning ‘Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains.’
Lightpost Winery is a boutique family winery poised to bring exceptional wines and engaging experiences.  
Single varietals wines, Rhone and Bordeaux style blends are created in limited lots, displaying the exquisite varietal character. It includes voluptuous full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with deep lush color, power flavored and elegant Pinot Noirs, European style Chardonnay with mineral fresh notes or smooth and rich Chardonnay, a tantalizing trio of white Rhone varietals (Marsanne-Rousanne- Grenache blanc), textured Albarino with lots of minerality and freshness on the palate, to elegant and seductive sparkling. 
The Lightpost Winery creates sensory immersion with unique tasting experiences, showcasing the decadent fruit of Santa Clara Valley and Central Coast cool-climate vineyards in a must-visit winery destination.


Time Posted: Jun 11, 2022 at 6:00 PM Permalink to Lightpost Winery at SF Emmy Gala 2022 Permalink
Vivian Emberley
May 1, 2022 | Vivian Emberley

Lightpost Winery wins ‘Wine of the Year’



While only six years old, Lightpost Winery has decades of experience—and talent— behind it. 

From the first vintage, awards began consistently rolling in. Proprietor Sofia Fedotova and Winemaker Christian Roguenant were thrilled to be awarded Wine of the Year at the 2022 Monterey Wine Competition for their 2019 Lightpost Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, made from Paso Robles fruit. 

It scored 97 points and was awarded a Platinum medal. In addition, Lightpost had eight additional Platinum- and Gold-winning wines, as well as four that scored Silver.

“We are very honored to have received this award and to be recognized by this prestigious competition that features many wonderful wines and wineries,” Fedotova said. “It is a great acknowledgment of our hard-working team and our efforts to create some outstanding wines that people enjoy. We are looking forward to a bright future for Lightpost Winery and many more amazing wines to come.”

Visitors can find Lightpost in Morgan Hill, in a small industrial park off Highway 101 at 900 Lightpost Way. Fun fact: the tasting room and winery occupy the former offices and warehouse space of one very famous artist, Thomas Kincade. 

The tasting room is open Wednesday-Sunday, from 11am until 6pm. The age limit for this room is 21-plus. There is a separate family room available for those with children. The tasting room is dog-friendly.

For Roguenant, achieving an honor like this is a gratifying affirmation of his lifelong success in the wine business. Arriving in the U.S. from France with a little English and even fewer dollars, he stepped off a bus to make his first purchase of snack foods at a convenience store. When he went to pay for the Coca-Cola, the checker asked, “Paper or plastic?” He thought they were asking whether he was paying by credit card or with paper money. 

Fast forward 40 years and he has had the chance to pay for plenty of experiences with both, many times over. But one thing has always guided him, and that is making the best possible wine out of carefully farmed grapes, because that’s where it all starts.

Roguenant began his U.S. career at Champagne Deutz in Arroyo Grande, which was a partnership between a wealthy French businessman and Beringer USA. He was with the company from 1986 to 1997. 

“I loved California and the opportunity,” Roguenant said. “The Frenchman from Versailles who owned the land and the winery building kept charging more and more money for the grapes, which caused Beringer to become pissed off.” 

The partnership dissolved in 1993, leaving him president of the company, which was renamed Laetitia, after the French owner’s daughter. Roguenant says that Roederer actually acquired the Deutz name and wanted to buy the facility but the price was too high, which is why they ended up going to Philo, in the Anderson Valley. 

Eventually, the French owner, whose father had made millions importing coffee beans from the Ivory Coast, wanted to sell the facility and it was time for Roguenant to move on. Although he had job offers from Opus One, he was intrigued by the opportunity presented by the Niven family to build a dream winery. 

“I knew Tim and Michael Mondavi, but they were only making one wine at the time, which I thought was too boring,” Roguenant said. “The Niven’s gave me $4 million to design and build a winery. I was there for 20 years and then sold the business, after which I took time off and eventually met Sofia.” 

He actually wasn’t loafing around in the meanwhile, though, instead keeping busy with winery projects in Australia and in the Loire, where he was making sparkling wine from Chenin Blanc.

While Roguenant himself loves Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Fedotova enjoys big bold reds: hence the Cabernet Sauvignons from Paso Robles vineyards like Onyx in Templeton and Old Oak in the Willow Creek district. 

Having been in the area for 37 years, Roguenant knows the vineyards and the people who farm them. 

“Old Oak is on a slope and faces east and is 40 years old, from old clonal material, whereas Onyx is a new generation of planting, in a flat area with more sandy soil,” he said. 

He also gets some grapes from the Derby Vineyard in Paso.

Lightpost also sources Cabernet from Bates Ranch and Zayante Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. These Cabs are named in honor of Fedotova’s family. Roguenant says the 2019 Sevastien Cabernet Reserve Santa Cruz Mountains (Silver) is from the Zayante Vineyard, and is 75% Cab Sauv and 25% Merlot. It’s named for Fedotova’s eldest son. 

The 2019 Rion Reserve Cab (Gold, 93 points) also hails primarily from the Zayante Vineyard, with a tiny bit of Petit Verdot coming from Onyx. Rion is her younger son Teo’s middle name and means “Little King.” The 2019 Alexander Reserve, Paso Robles, (Gold, 91 points), is Cabernet, made of 85% Old Oak with 15% Petit Verdot from Onyx Vineyard. Alexander is a tribute to Fedotova’s father’s name, which means, “Defender of the People.”

Also from the Santa Cruz Mountains comes two of their Pinot Noirs, one from the Ferrari Vineyard and one from Saveria Vineyard. The 2019 vintage of the latter just scored 94 points from Wine Enthusiast. They scored Silver for their 2020 Spanish Springs Pinot Noir from SLO, and Gold for their 2020 Winemakers Select Pinot Noir, which contains a bit of Edna Valley fruit from a vineyard that was subsequently torn out, to complement the Spanish Springs.

Roguenant says the harvest of 2020, with the fires and the relentless scorching heat was the worst thing he’d ever witnessed from a grape-growing perspective. 

“When the fires broke out, I called the majority of vineyards where we were planning to buy fruit and said, ‘no thanks, please sell the fruit to someone else,’” he said. “We took less than 50% of what we normally get. We did 30 tons in 2020, but 80 tons in 2021.” 

One thing they did make more of in 2020 was sparkling wine. 

“We picked the second week of August before the heat,” Roguenant said. “It turned out to be very good sparkling, even though it wasn’t a good vintage overall.”

They made three sparklings in 2020, including a sparkling rosé from Spanish Springs, a Blanc de Blancs from Spanish Springs and a Brut from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from the Edna Valley vineyard that no longer exists. These sparklers, for which the base wine is made at Tooth & Nail in Paso Robles, will be released in the fall of this year.

A friend of Roguenant, who was a winemaker for Schramsberg, has a special bottling truck for handling sparkling wine, which is based in Napa. He brings the truck to Paso to do the bottling, after which the wine is shipped to Lightpost in Morgan Hill. There, it is aged and riddled. 

When ready to be disgorged and finished, the bottles are then shipped back to Paso, where the wine is disgorged, and the dosage is added. The wine is then corked and finished with a wire hood and foil, and shipped back to Morgan Hill.

Yes, that’s a lot of work: work that most wineries are happy to hand off to a larger sparkling house to handle. But, says Roguenant, “If you want to do a good sparkling, you have to do it yourself. I learned this in France.”

This is some well-traveled sparkling, not unlike its prodigious maker. 

Top Scoring Lightpost Wines From 2022 Monterey Wine Competition

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Paso Robles – Wine of the Year

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker Select Paso Robles, Platinum Medal 94 points

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Paso Robles, Platinum Medal 97

2019 Rion Reserve Santa Cruz Mountains, Gold 93 points

2020 Pinot Noir Winemaker Select San Luis Obispo County, Gold Medal 92 points

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Old Oak Vineyards Reserve, Paso Robles, Gold Medal 91 points

2019 Alexander Reserve Paso Robles, Gold Medal 91 points

2019 Ignition San Luis Obispo County, Gold Medal 91 points

2020 Pinot Noir Deer Ridge Trail Vineyard Reserve Santa Cruz Mountains, Gold Medal 90 points

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Dessert Wine Los Olivos District, Gold Medal 90 points

2019 Teo San Luis Obispo County, Silver Medal

2019 Sevastien Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Santa Cruz Mountains, Silver Medal

2019 Grenache Reserve Paso Robles, Silver Medal

2020 Pinot Noir Spanish Springs Vineyard, Reserve San Luis Obispo Country, Silver Medal

2019 Pinot Noir Reserve Sta. Rita Hills, Silver Medal

Time Posted: May 1, 2022 at 7:04 PM Permalink to Lightpost Winery wins ‘Wine of the Year’ Permalink
Vivian Emberley
April 1, 2022 | Vivian Emberley

2022 Monterey International Wine & Spirits Competition Director’s Awards


Time Posted: Apr 1, 2022 at 2:39 PM Permalink to 2022 Monterey International Wine & Spirits Competition Director’s Awards Permalink