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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
 
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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Time Posted: Sep 13, 2018 at 2:00 PM
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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Time Posted: Sep 5, 2018 at 5:00 AM
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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Time Posted: Aug 31, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
August 27, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Bokisch Vineyards demonstrates impact of terroir on grapes (plus new Bokisch label wines)

Albariño harvest in Bokisch Ranches' Terra Alta Vineyard (Clements Hills-Lodi AVA)

Continuing our study of the impact of vineyard conditions – or terroir (i.e. “sense of place”) – on wine grape clusters and finished wines, we asked Bokisch Vineyards to gather 2018 grape samples from their multiple vineyards for us to compare, side-by-side.

The well over 2,000 acres farmed by Bokisch Ranches make a fascinating study. First, because their vineyards are located in five of Lodi’s official sub-AVAs (Mokelumne River, Clements Hills, Borden Ranch, Jahant, and Sloughhouse), plus in the south-east corner of the broader Lodi AVA near Linden (which is not part of any sub-AVA), as well as on Andrus Island just outside the western edge of the Lodi AVA (in the Delta area near Isleton, sandwiched between the Sacramento River and Georgiana Slough)...

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Time Posted: Aug 27, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Bob Highfill
 
August 22, 2018 | Bob Highfill

Lodi's Scott McKenzie is building his family's tradition

Scott McKenzie of McKenzie Vineyards and Winery is a busy guy with harvest this month, a new sparkling wine in production and a new tasting room opening in September in downtown Lodi. 

Scott McKenzie is a winegrape grower, husband and father.

And he’s a curator of his family’s history.

Stepping onto the McKenzie’s property in Acampo is a step back in time. Barns, stables, sheds, tractors, trucks, farming implements, picking boxes, a crank telephone and volumes of photos and records detail a proud family farming history that dates to 1895. Pictures of a bygone era stand on book shelves and night stands and hang from the walls inside the home his great grandparents built, where Woodbridge Road dead ends east of Dustin Road.

“There’s just a lot of history that people don’t know,” McKenzie said. “I’d like to get it out there before it’s all forgotten.”

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Time Posted: Aug 22, 2018 at 8:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
August 20, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Oak Farm’s latest vineyard-designate Zinfandels are paradigms of terroir

Giant, centuries-old valley oak and oversized owlbox in Oak Farm Vineyards

A quick history of terroir-focused winemaking in Lodi

What is the impact of terroir, or sense of place, on individual Zinfandel plantings in Lodi?

Terroir-related distinctions can be observed in a vineyard – felt below your feet, in the air touching on your skin, in the visible responses of individual vines to their surrounding environment – and in turn, tasted in a wine... if crafted in sufficiently focused fashion.

Most commercial wines, as it were, are not crafted to express terroir. The priority for the vast majority of wineries, especially in the U.S., is to produce wines with a year-to-year consistency of taste; to establish a particular style that results in brand loyalty; or very often, to achieve a certain varietal profile (i.e. more universal sensory qualities distinguishing grape varieties, regardless of vineyard or regional origin) that appeals to consumers and critics alike. Capturing nuances reflecting physical conditions of specific vineyards is usually way down on the totem pole; if considered at all. Mind you, nothing wrong with that. Welcome to the wine world...

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Time Posted: Aug 20, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
August 9, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi’s single-vineyard wines (Part 2: east side growths)

Zinfandel in Süess Vineyard this past week (early August 2018) in Lodi's Clements Hills AVA

Continued from Lodi’s single-vineyard wines (Part 1: west side growths)

Ready to geek out further on Lodi’s old vine growths, and what makes them utterly unique in the entire world of fine wines? Let’s start with this...

Impact of sandy loam soil

When nineteenth century growers first began farming in the areas surrounding the burgeoning community of Lodi, they chose properties with the deep (20 to 50-ft.) sandy loam soil now classified in the Tokay series (named for the pinkish-red Flame Tokay grape, the Lodi region’s #1 grape crop between the 1880s and 1980s)...

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Time Posted: Aug 9, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
August 7, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi’s single-vineyard wines (Part 1: west side growths)

Early harvest veraison in Lodi's Bechthold Vineyard; Cinsaut planted in 1886

What are the top Lodi Viticultural Area vineyards identified as vineyard-designate wines on highly regarded Lodi grown bottlings, and why do they matter?

They matter because of the precedent set in European countries long ago: The simple fact that the finest wine regions are associated with vineyards known to produce great wines...

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Time Posted: Aug 7, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
August 2, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

10 of Lodi wine country’s most Instagram-worthy destinations

Instagram-worthy moment in Phillips Farms U-Pick Flower Garden

Lodi wine country is all about the wines and vineyards, the laid-back Lodi natives and small-town vibes; and evidently, for some 40% of visitors under age 33 (at least according to recent surveys taken by vacation planners), the “Instagramability” of the sights and sites.

Most everyone wants to be like someone else in their social media circle; which is a perfectly human thing to feel. 100 years ago it was about living the life of heroes in books; 50 years ago, characters on the silver screen; and today, in places where we can create our own do-it-yourself scenarios for an audience of friends and family...

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Time Posted: Aug 2, 2018 at 6:00 AM
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