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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
 
October 31, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Ancient winemaking, taste of a place, and luscious Zinfandel beef stew

This wood basket press, utilized by Lodi's McCay Cellars, is of the same basic design used by winemakers for nearly 1500 years

This wood basket press, utilized by Lodi's McCay Cellars, is of the same basic design used by winemakers for nearly 1500 years

There is a memorable story in Cervantes' Don Quixote, told by the character of the faithful Sancho Panza, concerning the great wine connoissurs in his family; particularly, two on his father's side who were once challenged to identify an anonymous wine from a barrel. The first one brought the wine to the tip of his tongue, and declared the flavor of iron. The second one just needed to pass it under his nose before declaring a stronger flavor of cordovan leather. The owner of the wine protested, however, saying his wine was perfectly clean, with no trace of iron or...

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Time Posted: Oct 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
October 29, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

The mystery of Zinfandel, part 2 – the long strange trip from… somewhere

Craig Rous in his Rous Vineyard (planted in 1909 on St. George rootstock)

Craig Rous in his Rous Vineyard (planted in 1909 on St. George rootstock)

Did you know that the first winery to produce a rosé, or pink colored "White Zinfandel," from the black skinned Zinfandel grape was Lodi's El Pinal Winery – way back in 1869? El Pinal did not survive Prohibition, and it would not be until the late '60s/early '70s that wineries like David Bruce, Ridge, Monteviña and, of course, Sutter Home would revive the idea of turning Zinfandel into something other than a red table wine. According to Charles Lewis Sullivan in his book, Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wines, El Pinal's technique of turning free-run Zinfandel juice into a...

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Randy Caparoso
 
October 23, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

The mystery of Zinfandel, part 1: a plot as thick as the wine

Mystery Zinfandel; Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA

Mystery Zinfandel; Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA

For the longest time, Zinfandel was known as California's "mystery grape." It has also been long considered an "all-American" varietal; since as far as anyone knew, Zinfandel wasn't grown anywhere else in the world. Make that "all-California," because virtually all of it is grown in the state of California – and most of that, in the American Viticultural Area of Lodi. Whatever the case may be, America loves Zinfandel – whether it is made into a light, fizzy, fruity pink wine (i.e. White Zinfandel), or a moderate to humongously full, thick, lip-smacking red wines. This black skinned grape is successfully...

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Time Posted: Oct 23, 2013 at 4:56 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
October 17, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

The new Macchia Primitivo — the milder, smoother identical twin of Zinfandel

Maley Vineyards Primitivo in 2013: note long clusters and uniform sized berries

Maley Vineyards Primitivo in 2013: note long clusters and uniform sized berries

Macchia Wines, which produces more single-vineyard Zinfandels than any other winery in Lodi, has just released their first-ever bottling of Primitivo: the 2012 Macchia Lodi Primitivo ($24) – a full bodied yet smooth, mildly tart edged red wine that has something of an "Italian" feel in its bright, upbeat, drink-me-with-food qualities. But like a good Zinfandel, this Primitivo is teeming with sun kissed berryish fruit; tinged with sweet peppercorn spice, and subtle touches of cedarwood-ish oak. Macchia winemaker/owner Tim Holdener tells us, "This is our inaugural experience with Primitivo. Ours is grown by Todd Maley, at his vineyard on Davis...

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Time Posted: Oct 17, 2013 at 5:12 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
October 14, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

2013 Zinfandel harvest nearing end, with a little bit of drama

Tegan Passalacqua (right) field sorting Zinfandel

Tegan Passalacqua (right) field sorting Zinfandel

Lodi grows a greater variety of grapes than any other wine region in California, but Zinfandel is still the specialty – the pièce de resistance. Tegan Passalacqua, the grower/winemaker of Turley Wine Cellars, manages his company's Zinfandel plantings in Lodi, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Paso Robles, as well as Contra Costa and Amador County. So it's safe to say that he's seen a lot, and has a very broad perspective. But even Passalacqua couldn't quite account for why, in 2013, the Zinfandel harvest started pretty much on schedule at the end of August (early bud break this past Spring moved...

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Time Posted: Oct 14, 2013 at 5:50 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
October 8, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi’s latest Cabernet Sauvignon releases

Gerardo Espinosa of Vinedos Aurora (2013 harvest)

Gerardo Espinosa of Vinedos Aurora (2013 harvest)

Zinfandel, as everyone knows, has always been Lodi's big schtick; which is why it's easy to forget that this American Viticultural Area is easily California's largest grower of grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Lodi, in fact, crushes more Cabernet Sauvignon than Napa and Sonoma combined. Where does all this Cabernet Sauvignon go? Most of it into the fermenting vats of big wineries, of course; and quite a bit of it blended anonymously with Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings from other regions, like Napa Valley and Paso Robles. As old-timers like to point out, this is why there's a Lodi Lane in the...

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Time Posted: Oct 8, 2013 at 5:57 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
October 3, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

The latest releases of offbeat Zinfandel brands and varietals

Zin-Phomaniac Lodi Zinfandel

Zin-Phomaniac Lodi Zinfandel

Except for three strategically placed grape leaves, the depiction of the "hot babe" pin-up on the inaugural bottling of the 2012 Zin-Phomaniac Lodi Zinfandel (about $18) leaves little to the imagination. And the back label makes no bones either: The scantily clad bottle tempts you… remove the cork carefully, slowly, your desire building with every twist… True-blue Lodi grown Zinfandel lovers might also be taken aback by the back label's slightly self-deprecating, if shameless, wording: Sure, it's from Lodi… but Zin-Phomaniac is more than that… arousing aromas… bold and voluptuous mouth feel… long, satisfying climax…. The key to appreciating this...

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Time Posted: Oct 3, 2013 at 6:07 PM