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Our Story

Our Story: Ritch & Lehn

We met playing tennis in San Diego and fell in love over a mutual passion for gourmet food, wine, world travel and the pursuit of excellence!

In August 1989, the courtship thrived against the intrigue of founding Cafe Coyote Mexican Restaurant in Old Town San Diego. We lived over the restaurant for five years and nurtured it to ultimately become one of San Diego’s Landmark Restaurants and Relationships over the past 30 years!

One of our outlets during those challenging, yet formative, restaurant years was traveling to Northern California’s beautiful Wine Country to assimilate the food and wine Culture so prevalent there and the epicenter of the farm to table movement. There is where we further honed our knowledge and love of wine and food.

In July 2013, the ultimate success of Cafe Coyote and a daily AlaskaAir flight from San Diego to Sonoma afforded us the opportunity to acquire 70 prime acres in the Russian River Valley and dive headfirst into our lifelong dream together, of planting our very own Vineyard, making world class wines, building our brand and making a second life. This is where the birth of our second child, Rancho Coyote Vineyards & Winery came to fruition.

Founding Dog(s)

Our story would not be complete, without mention of Our Founding Dog…

Early January 2009, Lehn and I returned home from a trip to Lucca, Italy to find, back at our home, a very rambunctious Golden Doodle Puppy that was a surprise for our 10 year old nephew, prior to our departure… I didn’t know I needed a Dog, but when he rolled over on his back and let me rub his Belly, that was it… I was smitten! I was 7 years old again! We renamed him Lucca, as in Lucca, Italy…And He would lead us on an incredible Journey and teach us the meaning of unconditional Love…And many other Valuable Lessons…

About a month later, Lucca and I went to visit my good friend Ira Gourvitz, at his Incredible Fallbrook Winery, 30 miles North of San Diego… In the morning after much good food and wine, we all went for a walk with his Pit Bull, Brix….When I saw Lucca Running Free through the Vineyards with Brix…My Heart knew…Lucca would need his own Vineyard…And his own Dog, “Datca.”

At that time we did not yet know, just how good of a Vineyard Doodle he would become! “Romancing the Cork”…

On July 23 2021, Lucca’s battle with cancer came to an end. Traditional Navajo say that dogs are guardians, sent to teach us, to be with us in time of need. If the bond is made, it will never go away, even after death. When the time comes, a thankful dog will walk away into the next realm. There, a transformation will occur and the dog will come back to you as a spirit companion for eternity.

Lucca will forever be in our hearts. He was never just a dog, but a member of our family. His spirit and inspiration will always be felt at Rancho Coyote. With love, eternally.