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Laurie Jervis: 3 Former Air Force Colleagues Launch Millennial Wines in Lompoc

Daniel Soboski, left, and Cody Welch are co-owners and winemakers for their small label, Millennial Wines, based in Lompoc. Click to view larger
Daniel Soboski, left, and Cody Welch are co-owners and winemakers for their small label, Millennial Wines, based in Lompoc. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

When Daniel Soboski, Cody Welch and Yianis Themellis first met around 2008, all three were stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base outside of Bossier City, La.

Soboski hailed from Morristown, Pa., Welch from tiny Philo, Ohio, and Themellis from Salisbury, Mass., Soboski recalled. At the time, all three envisioned careers in the military.

Today, only Themellis remains in the Air Force, this time outside of Cheyenne, Wyo. But before relocating to a new military career there, he joined Soboski and Welch out west to launch a mutual passion for winemaking into a label called Millennial Wines.

The three men launched Millennial, based in Lompoc, with Welch and Soboski at the winemaking helm, and Themellis as a silent partner, Soboski said.

I met Soboski and Welch last summer, and caught up with them in late August on the day before Soboski was headed home to Pennsylvania to enjoy an extended break with his family after nearly a decade in the service.

A few of us joined the two winemakers to wine taste at the space Millennial shares in a winery facility on West Laurel Avenue.

Welch stayed behind in Lompoc to oversee the 2017 harvest and continue his studies at Allan Hancock College. It was a Wednesday, and Welch stayed just long enough to help Soboski open bottles and answer a few questions before departing for the first evening of Hancock classes.

We tasted a 2016 chardonnay from Rita’s Crown Vineyard made with 30 percent new oak, and a 2016 rosé — a saigneé of pinot noir sourced from Rancho la Vina, Rio Vista and Zotovich
vineyards that spent eight months in neutral oak, Soboski noted.

The third wine we tried was a robust 2015 sangiovese from the Templeton Gap region of Paso Robles. Just 15 cases were made.

The grapes for Millennial’s wines are sourced from vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills, Happy Canyon and Ballard Canyon AVAs.

The 2016 Millennial Chardonnay from Rita’s Crown Vineyard. Co-owner Cody Welch said he found an old photo of a typewriter and had a graphic artist friend craft it into a label. Click to view larger
The 2016 Millennial Chardonnay from Rita’s Crown Vineyard. Co-owner Cody Welch said he found an old photo of a typewriter and had a graphic artist friend craft it into a label. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

“We’ve been pretty lucky with our vineyard sources,” Welch said.

Millennial’s debut vintage was produced in a garage, but 2015 was the trio’s “first bonded vintage” and was made at Montemar Wines in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, Soboski said.

Fourth in our lineup was the 2015 Trinity, a blend of 80 percent merlot and 10 each of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. The merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes hail from Estelle Vineyard
and the petit verdot from Happy Canyon Vineyard, he said.

The 2015 Topless Tuscan is a blend of 70 percent sangiovese and 30 percent merlot, and was a favorite of mine.

Both the 2016 and 2017 pinot noirs use grapes from Hilliard Bruce Vineyards, and Stolpman Vineyards in Ballard Canyon provides the Millennial winemakers with the sangiovese for their
more recent single varietal and sangiovese blends, Soboski said.

Months after my tasting, Welch emailed me the names of a few other wines I did not taste back in August, among them a 2015 Pinot Noir from Babcock Vineyard and a 2016 Syrah from ​McGinley Vineyard.

Like other uber-small producers, Millennial’s principals hope steady purchases from wine club members will drive sales traffic, and plan to limit tastings to by appointment.

For more information about Millennial Wines, email Welch or Soboski at [email protected].

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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