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 11, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Is Barbera California's most underappreciated classic varietal?

Barbera clusters in 45-year-old Leventini Vineyard, originally planted for E. & J. Gallo

Barbera is one of those red wine grapes that have been around longer than anyone can remember. Nor can anyone remember why. Like one of those guys you can always depend upon to show up at your parties. Doesn’t say much, but he’s always... there.

Good example: In one of the old, classic books on California wine – Robert Gorman’s Gorman on California Premium Wine (Ten Speed Press, 1976) – the author devotes over 270 pages on the enormous excitement generated by the best and latest California wines of the time. Despite the fact that, in the mid-1970s, there were close to 20,000 acres of the grape planted in the state, Gorman allots a total of only 27 words, in two sentences, to the subject of Barbera:

The varietal Barbera has many devotees among connoisseurs of California wine. The wines are usually tart, fruity, full flavored and useful for accompanying hearty, Italian style food...

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Time Posted: Oct 11, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
October 6, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

What Lodi can do to slow down the loss of old vine plantings

Another one bites Lodi's sandy dust; dead ancient vine Zinfandel (planted in 1900s) in Noma Ranch

It’s a good time to enjoy good ol’ old vine Zinfandel. There’s a little bit of chill in the air, leaves are turning color, and the mind drifts off into memories of brown spices, baking pies, stews on the stove, bread in the oven, ugly sweaters.

But enjoy those wines while you can; because – as we mentioned in a previous post, Last rites for Lodi’s old vine growths – decently priced old vine Zinfandel grown in Lodi (the home of more old vine plantings than anywhere else in California) is disappearing as we speak...

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Time Posted: Oct 6, 2017 at 5:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
September 27, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi Winegrape Commission's Dr. Stephanie Bolton talks about her first year in Lodi

Lodi Winegrape Commission's Dr. Stephanie Bolton

This past August 15, 2017 marked Dr. Stephanie Bolton's first full year as Lodi Winegrape Commission’s Grower Communications & Sustainable Winegrowing Director.

Yes, that job description is a mouthful; and in fact, Dr. Bolton has already achieved boatloads of accomplishments to match during her first year. This, perhaps, comes as no surprise, as Dr. Bolton came to the Lodi Viticultural Area with impeccable credentials; including a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia (focused primarily on studies of Vitis vinifera vineyards), a Master’s in Food Science from the University of Georgia, and a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from Wake Forest University...

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Time Posted: Sep 27, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
September 21, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Tamara Maren's vineyard opens Lodi to a diverse range of home winemakers

This past September 15, Tamara Maren with her Lodi Zinfandel picked by home winemakers from Los Angeles

In a little 8.5-acre vineyard home tucked into the west side of the Mokelumne River AVA, Lodi’s Tamara Maren is running a slightly different type of grape growing business.

It’s something more along the lines of the ecotourism concept, where visitors get to chance to enjoy an alternative experience of “Lodi.” In this case, the chance to pick grapes in Maren’s vineyard; make wine, break bread and raise a glass (or many) in amongst the vines and trees on her property...

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Time Posted: Sep 21, 2017 at 3:30 PM
Randy Caparoso
September 15, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Last Rites for Lodi's old vine growths

Typical fall scene in Lodi wine country: another old vine vineyard bites the dust

The Phillips Family Issues Dire Warnings

Imagine a Lodi without old vine Zinfandel. It’s not an impossibility.

This issue always comes up in years when yields are down, as they were in 2017, 15%, 25%, or even more than 50%. This time around it comes in the middle of an economic clusterfudge: Sales of $10-and-under varietal Zinfandel continue to drop, winery supplies of fermented juice are backed up to the hilt, and White Zinfandel is no longer setting the wine world on fire (hasn’t for a while)...

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Time Posted: Sep 15, 2017 at 5:30 PM
Randy Caparoso
September 13, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi growers and winemakers speak frankly about 2017 harvest thus far

Lodi's 2017 Cemetery Vineyard Zinfandel pick in late August

“Biblical” can be great, or not so great, and 2017 has been that kind of vintage.

But as of this writing – the week of September 11-15 – Lodi Viticultural Area growers and winemakers have been looking at the 2017 crop through their usual rose-colored shades, or glass-half-full mentality; even in a challenging (to put it mildly) season, which started off with winter deluges and has since been topped off by a record-breaking succession of late August/early September 100-degree days.

While issues like rot or raisining can be sorted out in the wineries, these problems factor into yields; with most growers and wineries reporting varying percentages of lower than normal crops, depending upon the variety. But as usual, the best winemakers and vineyards will still produce the best wines; maybe even "better" than normal (then again, what is "normal" these days?)...

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Time Posted: Sep 13, 2017 at 3:15 PM
Randy Caparoso
September 6, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Acquiesce harvests first crop of Clairette Blanche and Bourboulenc

Clairette Blanche harvest in Lodi's Acquiesce estate

Hate to say it, but Acquiesce Winery has had big problems since the day they first opened their doors in 2011: They sell out of every one of their bottlings within months, if not weeks – such is the overwhelming response to their pure, airy, 100% unoaked style of white wines (plus one rosé). This, of course, has been forcing them to close their doors for a few months each year.

The only solution? Make more wine. But for Acquiesce’s Sue Tipton – who will only produce wines grown 100% on her own property, located at the northern edge of Lodi’s Mokelumne River appellation, at E. Peltier and Tretheway Roads – this means planting more grapes...

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Time Posted: Sep 6, 2017 at 4:33 PM
Randy Caparoso
August 28, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

2017 Cemetery Zinfandel harvest (agony of Nature, ecstasy of meticulous viticulture)

Cemetery Vineyard owner/grower Aaron Shinn samples his 2017 Zinfandel harvest

It’s always been said that in the most challenging vintages for any wine region – rain, snow, hail, drought, floods, hot seasons, cold seasons, rampant diseases or pests, anything that Mother Nature may throw at you – it’s the best growers, in the most favorable sites, that end up standing out far above the crowd.

Whatever the case may be, there’s nothing that Aaron Shinn – G.M. of Lodi’s Round Valley Ranches as well as owner of Shinn Farms – likes better than a challenge. And so far, 2017 has been as challenging a vintage as any.

At the break of dawn past Wednesday, August 23, Mr. Shinn walked and talked us through long, arduous road leading up to this particular moment of truth: the harvesting of 2017 Zinfandel from his own Cemetery Vineyard; located on the east side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River Viticultural Area, right across a country road from the Cherokee Memorial Park & Funeral Home...

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Time Posted: Aug 28, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
August 22, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Silvaspoons Vineyards’ latest Iberian innovation (Mencía!) and Verdelho harvest

2017 Silvaspoons Vineyards Verdelho harvest

Promising 2017 Verdelho Harvest

6:30 AM, this past Tuesday, August 22 in Lodi’s Alta Mesa appellation: Ron Silva’s harvest crew had already filled three half-ton macro-bins of just-picked Silvaspoons Vineyards Verdelho – green tinted golden, oval shaped orbs of tropical fruit sensations, zapped with palate slaking, lemon-lime acidity. You could practically taste the type of light, dry refreshingly high-toned white wines these grapes will soon become...

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Time Posted: Aug 22, 2017 at 9:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
August 14, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Oh lord, Lodi! (plus 13 wines exemplifying contemporary Lodi)

Darling of contemporary consumers: Grenache Blanc harvest at Acquiesce Vineyard

Over 650 Lodi wine blog posts ago...

In August 2010 we posted our first blog – entitled, “Oh lord, a blog from the heart of Lodi wine country,” which we are reproducing below to demonstrate how our focus has remained the same over the past seven years: To turn both consumers and professional wine lovers on to the fact that Lodi grows and produces wines that stack up against the best in the world – in its own fashion, of course.

At the end of this flashback we give detailed notes on 13 Lodi grown wines that didn’t exist in 2010, but have since come to represent the competitive quality as well as unprecedented diversity (at least since the ‘60s, when the California wine industry wasn’t so Chard-, Pinot- or Cabernet-centric) for which the Lodi Viticultural Area is now known...

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Time Posted: Aug 14, 2017 at 6:00 AM