California Winemaker Katy Lovell Passes Away


katy_sirenContemplativeSMBeautiful, benevolent, gracious and gifted, our dearly beloved Katy Lovell, winemaker at Poetic Cellars in Soquel, CA, and mother of three, left us all too soon on July 10, 2013. She waged a brave battle against pancreatic cancer, following a two-year struggle with Lyme disease. To the end, she embraced life with a passion and positive attitude that inspired everyone she touched.

Born at home on January 1, 1956, in Hemet, CA, to her parents Caryl and Hap Lovell, Katy was first at so many things, including first born of the year in her home town. She was an outstanding athlete and music student, winning President Kennedy’s Presidential Fitness award two years in a row. A brilliant flutist, she studied music at Interlochen’s Center for the Arts, and attended Oberlin College. If not for a wrist injury, Katy would have pursued a career in music. Instead, she took up pottery and weaving, eventually supporting herself both as a fiber artist and a cabinetmaker.

katy_siren2Her lifelong love of wine led her to study winemaking at Davis in the mid 1990’s, after which she founded Rios-Lovell winery in Livermore with her former partner, Max Rios, the father of her children. In 2003, she left Livermore in search of a new dream home and vineyard site in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She founded Poetic Cellars, and built a winery on a beautiful secluded parcel off Rodeo Gulch Drive, where she made extraordinary wine.

Katy was one of only three women winemakers in the Santa Cruz Mountains: she was a pioneer, master blender and hero to many. She was also a single mother of Julie, age 19, Brett, age 21 and Zac, age 23: they were her proudest achievement, and are all enrolled in college. Both sons graduated from Los Gatos High School, and her daughter, from Harbor High School.

The winery she dearly loved, Poetic Cellars, at 5000 North Rodeo Gulch Drive, Soquel, CA, will remain open weekends from noon til 5pm, and wine sales will continue until further notice. Katy may have departed this life, but she left behind her beautiful gift of wine for many to enjoy for years to come. A series of benefits are being held on her family’s behalf over the next few weeks. The winery will remain open Saturdays and Sundays from noon til 5pm.

Donations on behalf of her children, to help defray medical bills and final expenses, may be sent to Julie Rios Lovell, P.O. Box 3599 Santa Cruz CA 95063

A tribute to Katy will be held in August: further details to come. For more information, please email:

Katy Lovell Benefits

July 20: Passport Day at Poetic Cellars, with food, music and vendors
July 21: Vinocruz  special pouring of Poetic Cellars wines with light apps: $20 pp. Fabulous auction, including rare magnums, wine tickets and Passports
July 27: Bring Home the Bacon! Wine and donuts pairing, featuring Psycho Donuts goodies. At the winery. Live music, food, vendors
Aug 4: Poetry and Pizza Party at Nonno’s  $20 pp incl pizza, salad bar and Poetic Cellars wine tasting. Case specials available


Laura NessLaura Ness, aka “Her VineNess,” is an accomplished wine journalist and wine critic whose passion for wine was ignited by a visit to France, where she had the unmatched pleasure of tasting Sancerre in the medieval town of Sancerre – splendid!— and then a Saumur, after visiting the Chateau de Saumur in Chinon. The concept of terroir came alive in those incandescent moments. She regularly judges wine competitions and serves on the tasting panels of the Pinot, Cabernet and Chardonnay Shootouts. She was instrumental in helping define the unique sub-regions of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in concert with Appellation America. You can usually find her sipping and smiling in Mendocino, Livermore, the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains and Paso Robles. Laura writes extensively for many industry and consumer publications, and has weekly wine columns in several Bay Area newspapers. She blogs, irreverently and sporadically, at

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PUBLISHED DATE: July 19th, 2013 | WINE CATEGORY: News & Events, Women in Wine
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