Housley's Century Oak Winery
A family with a rich history in wine grape growing in Northern California, the Housleys have continued their legacy with an award-winning winery nestled in the heart of Lodi, California.
Housley’s Century Oak Winery was built by the Housley Family at the turn of the century in the small town of Acampo, part of the expansive Lodi AVA. The Housley Family began its origin into the wine industry as growers in California’s Napa Valley with a small Chardonnay vineyard, and still maintains a number of smallish vineyards (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) in that locale.
The name, ‘Century Oak Winery,’ is derived from a famed Valley Oak tree that dominates the Housley Family’s 37-acre vineyard and winery in Acampo and is completely surrounded by vineyards. Valley oaks have stood in and around the Central Valley’s Lodi region for many centuries and are considered the true natural treasures of the area in the same manner that the famed California Redwoods are the spectacular symbols and identifiers of Northern California. Quite naturally, the Housley Family’s special Valley Oak adorns the label of all of their wines.
Housley’s Century Oak Winery is the benefactor of numerous medals and high scores since its inception and first releases almost two decades ago. Housley’s Century Oak Winery selections are user friendly and remarkably sound with an excellent price/value relationship. These wines should not be confused with Housley Family Wines’ Cabernet Sauvignon that is grown in Napa Valley at a different pricing level.
The Housley Family operates a Napa Valley tasting facility at 1038 Clinton Street and charges just $15 for a taste of four wines from their portfolio. The winery/tasting room in Acampo is located just north of the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club on North Lower Sacramento Road. It is open on weekends from 12-4pm and also by appointment. Tasting fees are even more reasonable at $5 for a flight of six wines. We are happy to introduce this fantastic winery to our Gold Wine Club members!
Map of the area
Heather Pyle-Lucas - Winemaker
The path that Winemaker Heather Pyle-Lucas chose for her career wasn’t what she first expected it to be - in fact, her career as a winemaker began with a totally different focus. Pyle-Lucas was actually born in Scotland to British and Australian parents and came to the United States when she was only eight years old. Being an animal lover, she had always dreamed of a career as a veterinarian and entered the University of California Davis to pursue that dream. But, at UC Davis it soon became apparent to Pyle-Lucas that she was more interested in something different. The call of the grape at America’s premiere enology institution was such that she soon changed her major to winemaking. Animals out, wine in.
In 1985, Pyle-Lucas was working on her graduate degree in enology, but left school to work the harvest at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. She enjoyed the experience to such a degree that she remained with the company for the next seventeen years. She gained valuable experience with a number of the company’s premier varietal programs and in 1996 she was named head of Mondavi’s prestigious La Famiglia program that produced only Italian varietals for the extensive company. La Famiglia succeeded in winning many top awards for the company in the following years.
In 2002, she left Robert Mondavi and shifted her focus to the Lodi region of California’s Central Valley where she began winemaking and consulting for a number of wineries, including some located in Napa Valley. Included in the list are the well-respected Ilsley Vineyards, Lucas Winery (she co-owns this one with her husband David Lucas, also a well-noted winemaker), St. Jorge Winery and Acquiesce Winery.
Heather Pyle-Lucas has been described as a traditionalist winemaker and is the owner of her own vineyard that produces organically grown grapes. She credits Robert and Tim Mondavi for most of her success in the wine business. She and her husband have three grown children. Her Lucas Winery was recently voted Lodi Winery of the Year.
Art Housley - In the Spotlight
Art Housley is originally from Amarillo, Texas, but grew up in Sunnyvale, CA and later studied at Foothills College. Moreover, Art Housley is the patriarch of the Housley Family. He is a fifth generation San Francisco Bay individual who attempted to remove himself from the impending South Bay urban sprawl crisis by changing the location for him and his family. He moved to the much less crowded Napa Valley in 1969 and raised his family there. He originally worked for PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric), but branched out on his own by starting a community market in Napa Valley in 1976. The place was named Ranch Market and still exists today on Soscol Avenue, north of downtown Napa.
Housley moved up valley the following year and purchased a small store in Yountville that he named Cash & Carry. It has remained in the Housley Family and is still run by Art’s son, Arik, and daughter-in law, Hanna Housley, in the thriving city that Yountville has become.
Art Housley was most certainly an entrepreneur. In addition to the aforementioned businesses, he can also be credited with owning a liquor store, a meat market, a video game parlor and a yacht charter business that operated on the Napa River.
From the beginning, Housley saw the benefits of growing grapes in the Napa Valley. He began with a small Chardonnay vineyard and later added Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to his growing portfolio.
As Napa Valley became more competitive (and more crowded), Art Housley moved some of his growing operation to the east, focusing on the Lodi/Acampo and Woodbridge (of Mondavi fame) areas where he and his family could continue their role as growers/vintners. He now has a 37-acre estate vineyard that provides Cabernet Sauvignon and Old Vine Zinfandel that make up the majority of the Housley’s Century Oak wine portfolio.
Top reviews and plaudits from industry press have followed Art Housley’s wines for a number of years and he must be considered as one of the Lodi AVA’s iconic figures. Given the increased interest in wines and grapes produced within the AVA during the past twenty years, it seems fair to say the area will continue to increase in popularity and standing. Throughout that critical growth time, Art Housley has been a pioneer and supporter of the Lodi AVA’s rise to respectability among California’s winegrowing areas.
Art Housley is a unique individual in that he seems willing to try anything to succeed. It is just that sort of spirit and determination that has made that part of the Central Valley a viable alternative to the more established top growing areas of the Central Coast, Sonoma, Napa Valley and other top producers.
We salute Art Housley for his efforts and are delighted to introduce you to his Housley’s Century Oak Winery. Enjoy!
Lodi Wine Region
One of the most remarkable stories in the wine industry involves the Lodi Appellation of Northern California. The Lodi Appellation is big - really big, and includes more than 640,000 acres of which more than 110,000 acres are filled with grapevines. The geographical area includes the northern edge of the San Joaquin Valley and the massive Central Valley that is California’s total tonnage leader in grapes produced. Many Napa and Sonoma wineries import fruit from the Lodi Appellation to fulfill their processing needs.
Lodi has a storied past that records grape-growing as early as the 1850’s, and the Calaveras River was sometimes known as ‘Wine Creek’ due to the wild grapes hanging from trees along its riverbanks. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate (warm days and cool nights) and a wide variety of soils as one might expect from such a large AVA. There is a preponderance of deep loam in the massive Lodi AVA, but also a number of areas that contain large stones or rocks, not unlike the French region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape where stones cover a great deal of the soil.
There is also a large assortment of varietals grown in the Lodi AVA, where Zinfandel is undoubtedly hailed as ‘king.’ Many of the Zinfandel vines are quite old (some over 100 years old) and these grapes are highly prized and sold as ‘Old Vine Zinfandel.’ Other top varietals include French Bordeaux varietals Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Burgundian varietal of Chardonnay.
Many insiders believe the finest grapes can be found in the northern San Joaquin Valley vineyards that are part of the Lodi Appellation. These grapes benefit from their geographical location and their access to very cool nighttime temperatures.
Geographically, Lodi AVA includes northern Sacramento County and southern San Joaquin County that is bounded on the west by Interstate Highway 5 and to the east by borders of neighboring El Dorado, Calavares and Amador Counties. It is also approximately 100 miles east of San Francisco Bay.
The fortunes of the Lodi AVA have advanced steadily during the past three decades. A number of boutique wineries have arisen that are dedicated to improving the public appreciation of both the grapes and wines of the Lodi Appellation.