The LoCA Life & Times

In Lodi, wine comes first. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Meet the passionate people behind our handcrafted wines and gnarly old vines.

Randy Caparoso
September 21, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

The physical impact of soil and selection on Lodi Zinfandels

In early September 2018, 118-year-old own-rooted Zinfandel in Lodi's Marian's Vineyard

In recent years projects like Lodi Native – where groups of Lodi winemakers have been producing single-vineyard Zinfandels following the exact same, native yeast/neutral oak protocols (thus eliminating brand or winemaker styles as factors) – have been proving something that old-time growers and vintners have known all along: that there are differences among Lodi Zinfandel plantings – often subtle, but sometimes drastic – grown in different parts of the Lodi AVA.

The Lodi Native project has endeavored to demonstrate the distinctions in terms of sensory qualities manifested in the wines. But each year, the differences are actually demonstrable in comparisons of clusters and berries from each vineyard...

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Randy Caparoso
September 16, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

A close look at the fruits of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsaut in Lodi’s vineyards

Mettler Family Vineyards' Bear Creek block of Syrah

Throughout the vast expanse of wine regions along the Mediterranean collectively known as Southern France (or le Midi) – stretching from the Pyrenees touching the north-east corner of Spain in the appellation known as Languedoc-Roussillon, to Provence on the eastern side of the South where France bumps up against Italy – three of the most widely planted red wine grapes are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre...

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Randy Caparoso
September 13, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Markus Wine Co.'s Markus Niggli approaches grapes like colors on a palette

Markus Niggli taking field samples of Syrah in the Borra family's Gill Creek Ranch (Clements Hills-Lodi)

To Markus Niggli, the owner/winemaker of Markus Wine Co., wine grapes are like paints on a palette. The purity of the colors selected by an artist are important enough; but it’s how the colors are put to canvas – the interplay, the blending, the contrasts and textures, and of course, the arresting skill and imagination – that catches the eye, stimulates the mind, and even riles the senses or emotions, consciously or unconsciously.

And so, unlike your typical American winemaker (or perhaps because he is European-born), Mr. Niggli is less satisfied with interpretations of “varietal” wine – wines made primarily from one grape – than he is with creating blends from different grapes. Therefore, when you taste a Markus Wine Co. wine you are experiencing one winemaker’s thought process, or a culmination of his past experiences. Like an artist’s colors, grapes contribute to characteristics, as do sense of place, or terroir (in Niggli’s case, grapes that are very much “Lodi” grown). But in the end, the sum means more than the parts...

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Randy Caparoso
September 5, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

The utterly unique white Rhône grapes of Acquiesce Vineyards

Acquiesce owner/grower/winemaker Sue Tipton with her one red wine grape (Alban clone Grenache grown on wire trellis)

Since opening their doors in 2012 with offerings of their first commercial bottlings (from the 2011 vintage), Lodi’s Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards has broken down more than a few barriers, and the misperceptions associated with them.

“From the beginning, we were determined to be a ‘white-wine-only’ winery,” says owner/grower/winemaker Sue Tipton. “Many well meaning friends and neighbors used to stop by and say, ‘Oh, you’ll never make it in Lodi without selling any red wine, like Zinfandel.’” Boy, were they wrong: After six years, Tipton still has to shutter her tasting room doors by Thanksgiving of each year – the wines are so popular, they simply run out of bottles to sell!

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Randy Caparoso
August 31, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Jessie’s Grove's Royal Tee field mix – Lodi’s oldest, most historic Zinfandel planting

Alquimista's Greg La Follette heralding the 2015 harvest of Jessie's Grove's Royal Tee Vineyard

Jessie’s Grove Winery’s Royal Tee Vineyard is the Lodi Viticultural Area’s oldest existing Zinfandel planting; put into the (Tokay Series) fine sandy loam of Mokelumne River’s west side, on its own (Zinfandel) rootstocks, by Joseph Spenker in 1889. The vines were originally planted at the request of Stockton’s El Pinal Winery (which eventually closed during Prohibition) with cuttings supplied by the winery’s nursery.

The vineyard adds up to precisely 4.95 acres. The peculiar thing about the Royal Tee – at least for Lodi – is that only about 84.5% of the vineyard consists of Zinfandel. The rest of it is Carignan (about 10.5%), Flame Tokay (4%), Mission (.5%) and a rare, 19th century heirloom called Black Prince (.5%)...

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