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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.

Randy Caparoso
 
March 28, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Spenker Winery's magical transformation into a farmstead artisan creamery

Spenker Winery winemaker/owner Bettyann Spenker and fine-hoofed friends

Something exciting is afoot – or shall we say, a-hoof? – at Spenker Winery, a 60-acre winery estate located on the west side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA.

This coming June 2018, the Spenker family will officially expand from being an estate grown winery to also being a licensed producer and seller of artisan farmstead cheeses ("artisan" defined as hand-made cheeses, and “farmstead” technically meaning that cheeses are produced only from milk raised on-property). A goat barn is already up and running; and construction of a creamery, which will share space with a new tasting room and retail space, is nearing completion as we speak...

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Time Posted: Mar 28, 2018 at 7:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 26, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Heritage Oak's blends are crafted for sophisticated red wine lovers

Heritage Oak owner/grower/winemaker Tom Hoffman

After a visit to Tom Hoffman’s Heritage Oak Winery earlier this year, James Beard and Emmy award winning wine journalist Mary Orlin described Mr. Hoffman as the “Blend Master.”
 
That is to say: Like all the top wine winery estates, Hoffman grows and produces varietal wines – wines labeled by the grape from which they are made (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, etc.). But more and more during recent years, Hoffman has been dabbling in wines that are blends of multiple grapes; such as his “Spanish Suite” (made from Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah), a “Portuguese Suite” (Tinto Cão, Souzão, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz), a “French Blend” (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Petite Sirah), and few more...

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Time Posted: Mar 26, 2018 at 7:00 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
Randy Caparoso
 
March 20, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Acquiesce adds Clairette Blanche and Bourboulenc to their industry leading portfolio

Clairette Blanche. Bourboulenc. These are the two latest white wines produced by Lodi’s Acquiesce Winery & Vineyard. Never heard of these grapes? Join the crowd. We’ll tell you all about them; but after that it will be up to you to get over to Acquiesce as soon as possible because less than 300 cases were made of these two outstanding varietal wines combined.

As it has been their custom since the release of their first commercial bottlings six years ago, Acquiesce Vineyards has just re-opened its tasting room doors on N. Tretheway Rd. (just south of E. Peltier) for their annual spring-to-fall run, this past Saturday, March 17...

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Time Posted: Mar 20, 2018 at 2:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 15, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi farmers make distinction between organic and sustainable practices

Bokisch Vineyards' Terra Alta Vineyard: one of the few vineyards in Lodi that is both LODI RULES certified sustainable and CCOF Certified Organic

What is the difference between a wine with a sustainably farmed seal – such as LODI RULES’s Certified Green, SIP Certified’s Sustainable In Practice, LIVE’s Certified Sustainable, or others – and one with a certified organic seal such as CCOF’s Certified Organic?

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Time Posted: Mar 15, 2018 at 3:00 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
Randy Caparoso
 
March 9, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Covenant finds adventurous grapes for its premium kosher wines in Lodi

Covenant owner Jeff Morgan doing the only thing he is allowed to do in his own kosher winery (clean-up!)

At Covenant Wines in Berkeley late last month (February 2018), winery owner Jeff Morgan laid out his two current Zinfandels, both grown in Lodi, on the table, and issued a challenge to discern the differences...  Continue »

Time Posted: Mar 9, 2018 at 7:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 7, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Santa Cruz winemaker finds natural beauty in Lodi grown fruit

Thomas Fogarty winemaker Nathan Kandler among the array of neutral barrels (puncheons, barriques and 1,000-liter ovals) used to age Lodi grown Zinfandel, Carignan, Tempranillo and other varieties

"What I enjoy seeing is people who think they know Lodi Zinfandel – they taste my Zinfandel and say, this isn’t Lodi Zinfandel. Then I tell them, this is exactly what Lodi Zinfandel is.”

That is what Nathan Kandler, the winemaker of Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards in Santa Cruz Mountains, was saying as he was pouring his own version of Lodi’s iconic varietal: the 2016 Precedent “Victors” Lodi Zinfandel ($25), sourced from an “east-side” Lodi vineyard located just north of Victor Rd....

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Time Posted: Mar 7, 2018 at 1:30 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 1, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Historic Lodi buildings (Part 2 - Past and present images of Lodi's glory days)

The City of Lodi, like the Lodi Viticultural Area surrounding it for 134 square miles, is built on an abiding foundation; its winegrowing industry nourished by the generosity of Mother Nature (particularly the region’s mild Mediterranean climate and deep, fertile soils), and the City itself shaped by the steady hands of enterprising farmers, founding fathers and businessmen, and generations of fully invested families.

Hence, during the early 1990s when the City initiated its Central City Revitalization Plan for its original 55-acre “Old Town,” visible aesthetics were prioritized as much as practical capital improvements. Construction of a Lodi Gateway (in the photo below), completed in 1997, now sits astride School St. at the corner of Lodi Avenue, ushering car and pedestrian traffic down a handsomely brick paved road into the historical heart of the City...

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Time Posted: Mar 1, 2018 at 7:00 AM