If you’re looking for great local wines, the secret is out: they can be found in Laguna Beach, specifically at Laguna Canyon Winery. So, who’s behind these memorable wines? It’s a family affair.
Owner and winemaker Marlowe Huber grew up on the prairies of central Canada. Early on, his father taught him how to make things with his hands. Good news for wine lovers everywhere! Marlowe began making wine in the early 1980’s and never stopped. He studied oenology and viticulture in Vancouver and, later at UC Davis.
Early in his wine making career, Marlowe had the good fortune to meet his inspiration and mentor, John Simes. He is considered one of the most respected winemakers in Canada and around the world. The chance meeting in an elevator at a wine competition made such an impression on Marlowe, it sealed his passion for making great wines.
Marlowe joined forces with his brother, Darren and the pair successfully owned and operated two wineries in Canada for 15 years. But, the laid back lifestyle of Southern California beckoned. So, the brothers’ dreams of operating an urban boutique winery in the U.S. became a reality. In 2003, Laguna Canyon Winery was completed and opened its doors.
Over the years, the Huber brothers have produced a range of acclaimed wines, from fruit forward social wines to bold, complex tannin dinner wines. They have a wall of awards as testament to their talent, creativity and dedication to making fabulous wines.
The Hubers are committed to a process of wine making popular with French Pinots. It’s a cold maceration that involves pressing or punching down the near frozen grapes in the drums several times a day.
Huber says, ‘Freezing the grapes kills off a lot of the bad bacteria, so it’s an added benefit, along with the deep beautiful color.’ How committed are the Hubers to this process? It’s not uncommon for one of the brothers to show up at the winery at 2am to punch the caps – that’s dedication.
And, their dedication must have been inherited from their dad, Norm. When Marlowe told Norm he needed cabinets for the winery, Norm, who had built 3 houses with his bare hands, quietly stepped up. He drove from Vancouver to Laguna in a u-Haul with hand-crafted hardwood cabinets that he built in his garage in one week! ‘He’s my hero. Very, very special’ Huber says, ‘he was really proud of his boy moving to California.’
Sadly, Norm passed away of a heart attack five years ago, but there’s no doubt his masterful work – the stunning cabinetry and bar – will last a lifetime. When it comes to dedication and talent, the grapes didn’t fall far from the vine.
Besides receiving high scores among wine lovers, these Canucks also score on the ice. Laguna Canyon Winery sponsors its own local hockey team and the guys have won three championship cups in a row.
The Hubers live life like the wines they make: Big, bold. and bright!
Part one features some of the wonderful wines of Laguna Canyon Winery.