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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.

Bob Highfill
 
July 31, 2018 | Bob Highfill

Lodi's R-N-R Vineyard Management adds more layers to the family business

The Machado Family (from left to right): Rhonda, Matthew, Colton and Russell operate R-N-R Vineyard Management

Rhonda and Russell Machado hoped the day would come when their sons, Matthew and Colton, entered the family farming business.

Matthew loved being on the farm when he was a child. He drove a tractor before he could drive a car. It wasn’t a surprise when he joined his parents’ company, R-N-R Vineyard Management, after graduating from the University of California, Davis. Colton, on the other hand, was interested in sports more than farming. But in time, he became passionate about working the land and joined R-N-R after earning a degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Now, Rhonda and Russell have their two sons working beside them every day, and they couldn’t be happier.

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Time Posted: Jul 31, 2018 at 2:47 PM
Bob Highfill
 
July 17, 2018 | Bob Highfill

Harry Hakala's Mobile Wine Line has been a Lodi institution

Harry Hakala turned his mother's idea into a thriving business.

A stroke of genius led to a thriving business.

Harry Hakala has operated a mobile wine bottling company since 1978 after his mother, Eva Drummond, came up with the idea.

“She said in Germany, they actually bring the wine to the different places that own bottling equipment,” Hakala said. “She said, ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to bring the bottling equipment to the wine?’”

Thus, Mobile Wine Line in Lodi was born.

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Time Posted: Jul 17, 2018 at 8:00 AM
Bob Highfill
 
June 12, 2018 | Bob Highfill

Lodi is taking on the world

Lodi was represented at the first "Lodi in London" tasting earlier this year by (left to right): Joe Lange (LangeTwins Family Vineyards and Winery), Kate St. Hilaire (Ironstone), Farrah Felten-Jolley (Klinker Brick), David Phillips (Michael David), Stuart Spencer (St. Amant) and Sierra Zeiter (Oak Farm) 

Lodi vintners are taking to the road never like before, spreading the word about the quality and variety of winegrapes and wines originating from the Lodi American Viticultural Area.

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Time Posted: Jun 12, 2018 at 8:00 AM
Bob Highfill
 
May 15, 2018 | Bob Highfill

The story of Lodi vineyard manager Luis Reyes and his red-hooded sweatshirt

​Luis Reyes nearly got fired his day working on a crew for Mettler & Son. Now, he's the company's general manager.

They laugh about it now.

But if Kyle Lerner’s first encounter with Luis Reyes was made into a motion picture, the title might be “The Man in the Red Hoodie.”

The opening scene would find Lerner watching a lone figure wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt, leaning up against a stake in a newly planted Primitivo vineyard. There was much work to do and this guy Lerner had hired as part of a crew to pull leaves and drive stakes into the ground wasn’t doing anything.

“So, I call my foreman and supervisor at the time and said, ‘David, who’s the guy in the red hoodie?’” said Lerner, who owns Mettler & Son, the farming side of Harney Lane Winery in Lodi. “’What the heck’s going on? This guy’s lazy.’”

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Time Posted: May 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Bob Highfill
 
May 1, 2018 | Bob Highfill

In the Name of Zin

Lodi winegrower Pieter den Hartog rescued a stray dog and named him Zin.

Lodi proudly proclaims to be the Zinfandel capital of the world.

And rightly so.

The Lodi American Viticultural Area is responsible for producing roughly 40 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel.

People in Lodi show their Zinfandel pride in several ways.

Pets, license plates, the city’s largest annual wine festival and even a local restaurant are named in honor of a winegrape that has been part of the fabric of Lodi for more than 100 years.

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Time Posted: May 1, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Bob Highfill
 
April 17, 2018 | Bob Highfill

John Anagnos has grown winegrapes and long-lasting relationships in Lodi

John Anagnos has worked for Arbor Vineyards the past 38 years and has served the Lodi farming community even longer.

John Anagnos was serving tri-tap sandwiches with all the trimmings for a hungry gathering at an outdoor luncheon.

He was struggling with a slicer and not at all happy about it, when he heard his name called. Some of those around him began offering their congratulations. Anagnos was puzzled for a moment before he realized that he had been named the 2017 Agribusiness Person of the Year by the Lodi Chamber of Commerce.

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Time Posted: Apr 17, 2018 at 8:00 AM
Bob Highfill
 
April 3, 2018 | Bob Highfill

Larry Mettler honored to be honored by the Lodi community

Lodi winegrowing icon Larry Mettler will be the guest of honor at the Notably San Joaquin Wine Auction and Dinner at Hutchins Street Squad in Lodi.

 

Larry Mettler is seated in a comfortable chair inside his family winery’s tasting room.

Outside, the trees sway in the breeze and acres of grape vines stand in neat rows.

Usually bustling Thursday through Monday, the tasting room is closed this day and eerily quiet. It’s not lost that Mettler, a Lodi winegrowing icon with multiple generations of family farming history behind him, resembles a monarch on his throne.

Mettler has built a successful vineyard management company and a thriving winery, a must-visit on the Lodi wine trail. His wife, Charlene, their three children and other members of the family are involved in the businesses.

On Saturday, Mettler will be honored at the Notably San Joaquin Wine Auction & Dinner at Hutchins Street Square in Lodi. Such occasions call for reflection. So, what is Mettler grateful for as he looks back on his life?

“I’m grateful that our forefathers were not involved in the dairy business or grew Brussel sprouts,” he said with a smile. “It’s a lot nicer being in the wine business.”

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Time Posted: Apr 3, 2018 at 8:16 AM
Bob Highfill
 
March 20, 2018 | Bob Highfill

Camargo brothers keep engines running for Lodi's John Kautz Farms

Brothers Robert (front), Ciro (middle) and Pablo Camarago have worked for more than 30 years each at John Kautz Farms in Lodi.

The Camargo brothers are together most of the time.

And that’s just how they like it.

Ciro, Pablo and Robert are from Guerrero, Mexico, and each has worked for John Kautz Farms in Lodi for more than 30 years. They live close to each other near their job and their families socialize regularly.

They help run the engine, figuratively and literally, for Kautz Farms, which has historically grown fruit, vegetables and wine grapes, some of which are processed at the family-owned Bear Creek Winery. The Kautz family also owns Ironstone Vineyards, which has a large international presence and has been listed among the 20 largest wineries in terms of cases sold in the United States.

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Time Posted: Mar 20, 2018 at 4:00 PM
Bob Highfill
 
March 13, 2018 | Bob Highfill

Kolber, Gutierrez grateful to Lodi community for helping their company grow

Kris Gutierrez, left, and Ben Kolber started KG Vineyard Management in 2003.

Ben Kolber and Kris Gutierrez were working in the middle of the night when a grape harvester broke down, bringing things to a screeching halt.

As they fixed the machine, the pair of Tokay High graduates looked at each other and said, “What are we doing fixing someone else’s machine?”

Fast forward 15 years: Kolber and Gutierrez own KG Vineyard Management on Terminous Tract in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta – a multi-faceted farming operation with 60 to 80 full-time employees tending some 2,000 acres in the Lodi American Viticultural Area, as well as Stanislaus, Yolo and Sacramento counties.

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Time Posted: Mar 13, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Bob Highfill
 
February 27, 2018 | Bob Highfill

It's all in the family for Lodi grower Kelly Brakel

Lodi winegrower Kelly Brakel has worked for the Lange Family since 1973.

Like a lot of teenagers in his day, Kelly Brakel worked in the fields to make extra money.

He and his brother and their Lodi High buddies pruned vineyards, mowed lawns, drove tractors and did just about any odd job that paid on weekends and school breaks.

Little did Brakel know his odd jobs would turn into a career.

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Time Posted: Feb 27, 2018 at 8:13 AM