As seen in Peninsula Magazine
Wet Your Whistle At This Former Train Station in The Santa Cruz Mountains
- By Laura Ness •
When Dan and Molly Lokteff bought the 20-acre property that is now Wrights Station Vineyards & Winery back in August of 2009, they knew they had arrived at a special place in history. They chose to preserve the country charm of this beautiful old 1940s farmhouse set amidst vineyards and orchards, surrounded by Christmas tree farms and immense redwood groves.
Essentially, they turned the entire house into a tasting experience, adding comfortable and stylish bathrooms, installing dramatic windows behind the bar to drink in the view and turning the cozy living room into a place for children to play while adults relax in the couches and chairs. What was a den, sunken bath and bedroom became the main tasting room, with a stunning private room for seated tastings and club parties.
The previous brass-ship-lantern lighting was replaced by modern cans and track lighting, along with custom-designed, wine-bottle lights that dangle merrily above the reclaimed barnwood-fronted tasting bar. Dark wood was painted white, fireplaces went from dingy to decorative, and the interior is filled with comfortable spaces to sit and relax with a glass of their estate-grown Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Dan describes the décor as casual but elegant.
A wraparound porch provides a breezy bower to rest in the summer, or a pleasant place from which to observe the fog surge over the mountains above the Lexington Reservoir, watching the mists move like spirits through the towering redwood grove that borders the vineyards.
Major changes outdoors included removal of the old pool and extending the massive deck, repainting it and adding attractive green railings, while installing abundant large planters that spill over with fragrant lavender and white roses. Ample umbrella-equipped tables beckon outdoor picnickers, along with attractive outdoor setees and couches. A lovely water feature is home to a giant frog, while lemon trees and a brick rotisserie grill grace the front patio, bounded by a giant wisteria vine that completely covers an original trellis.
What was at various times a chinchilla farm and a horse barn became the winery where Dan now makes the wine: what was a dog run and horseshoe pit became the crush pad. Dan and Molly carefully preserved the look and feel of the barn’s equestrian past with gorgeous barn doors complete with period-looking hinges and latches. Out front are old horse tie-ups. Inside, the metal stall outlines remain, creating a challenge for moving barrels in and out, but offering the perfect pillars for wrapping sparkling lights for those romantic wine dinners they have planned. Overhead, chandeliers fashioned from barrels provide the perfect ambiance.
Dan credits the awesome color palate and many of the charming accents to Sheryl Fales of Refined Design Services in Los Gatos, and the overall design to Studio 3 Design of San Jose, the architectural firm who did the original plans, about half of which came to fruition. Golden State Builders did all the construction and remodel work. Many of the furnishings came from Harvest in Los Gatos, which also has outlets in Menlo Park, and San Carlos.
History of Wrights Station’s Location
The Lokteff’s named their winery after a station on the Southern Pacific Coast Railroad route that took folks from Los Gatos to the beaches of Santa Cruz in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The corridor is now served exclusively by Highway 17: some rue the demise of the railroad, a far safer way of transporting the masses.
The town of Wrights, which dates to 1879, was named for the man who established vineyards, orchards and a stagecoach hotel on this site. With nearly 3,200 acres of fruit – mostly plums and grapes – in the Summit region in the 19th century, Wrights became an important freight station for getting goods to market.
Although the station is long gone, some of the tracks still remain, along with the remnants of the 1.5-mile tunnel completed in 1880 by Chinese laborers. During World War II, fearing invasion of the homeland by the Japanese, locals filled in this and other railway tunnels to discourage their use as enemy hideaways.
Wrights Station Winery Location
Wrights Station winery is located just five minutes from Highway 17 on Summit Road, 15 minutes from downtown Los Gatos at 24250 Loma Prieta Way, Los Gatos, 95033. They are open for tasting Friday thru Sunday, 11 to 5 p.m., and by appointment. Tasting fee: $10
For more information visit www.wrightsstation.com, or call (408) 560-9343.
Featured Image [top]: Owner and winemaker Dan Lokteff stands behind the tasting bar at Wrights Station with the vineyard view at his back. Photo by Toni Sieling.