Pontchartrain Vineyards was founded in 1991, by winemaker, John Seago, with the goal of creating quality wines that appeal to the culture, cuisine and sensibilities of Southeast Louisiana. Pontchartrain Vineyards is the only winery in the state producing table wines exclusively from traditional bunch/wine grapes.
Planting began at Pontchartrain Vineyards' 34.5 acre vineyard site north of Covington, in the fall of 1991. The location is approximately 140 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico and 20 miles north of Lake Pontchartrain in the first hills arising off the flat coastal plain of south Louisiana. The vineyard is approximately 150' above sea level and has well drained, sandy loam soils from the Savannah and Ruston series of the soils of the upland terraces. Pontchartrain Vineyards, which is a registered trade name of Distinctive Wines of Louisiana, Inc., was formed in 1992.
The planting of the first 5.5 acre block was completed in the spring of 1992 and the vineyard's first harvest resulted in a modest 200 cases of wine from the 1993 vintage. Beginning in the fall of 1994, these 200 cases of wine were marketed exclusively to fine restaurants in New Orleans and on the Northshore.
Pontchartrain Vineyards produced a little over 2,000 gallon or approximately 800 cases of wine from the 1994 vintage. These wines were marketed exclusively through fine restaurants on the Northshore and in New Orleans, or were sold directly out of the winery.
A 2,400 square foot winery building at the vineyard site was partially completed in time for the 1995 crush which yielded wine production of about 1,500 cases of wine. Most of the 1995 vintage wines were released in the fall of 1996. The winery building was completed in 1996 and that year's production totaled about 1,800 cases or 4,300 gallons of wine.
In 1997, construction of a French provincial style tasting room and visitor's center overlooking the vineyards was completed. In 2000, we started the "Jazz'n the Vines" concert series that continues to be the premier Northshore music showcase. Each year, we put on a spring and fall season at the winery that features top acts playing various genres of New Orleans-style music.
In 2011, Pontchartrain Vineyards expanded its wine list, purchasing other growers' fruit, primarily from the North Coast of California, to begin production of more recognizable varietals such as Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
One of the winery's investors from the beginning, current winemaker and company president Lincoln Case started full-time at the winery in 2011, taking over operations in 2013.
Today, Pontchartrain Vineyards continues to produce fine wines from both estate grapes found at the winery as well as sourcing world-class winegrapes from select vineyards along the west coast. We produce, on average, 2,500 cases per year. All of our wines are made by hand and with a consistent style that is food-friendly for our local cuisine as well as being ideal for enjoying in our varied southern climate. Our wines are sold through our tasting room, to fine restaurants and retailers around Louisiana and to wine clubs and fans in various US states.