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
April 18, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Catherine Fallis (Master Sommelier and author of Ten Grapes to Know) headlines 2019 Lodi ZinFest Wine School

Learnng while enjoying the immense pleasures of Lodi wine at ZinFest Wine School

It’s nearly that time again: the annual Lodi ZinFest Wine Festival, taking place Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the stunningly bucolic Lodi Lake Park. This year festival will begin at 12 PM for Early Entrance guests (admission $75, available only with advance purchase), and then go from 1 PM to 5 PM for General Admission enthusiasts ($55 in advance, $65 at the gate).

Apart from a grand tasting of over 200 wines representing the dizzying range of fresh, pristinely expressive wines (from Albariño to Zinfandel) now being produced by Lodi wineries, there will also be opportunities to further your wine and culinary knowledge at ongoing demonstrations, including the Up in Smoke BBQ Demo (manned by Food Network celebrity chef Chad Rosenthal) and the ZinFest Wine School (kicking off at 1:30 PM)...

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Time Posted: Apr 18, 2019 at 11:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
April 16, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

2019 ZinFest Blind Tasting – a study of ancient vine Zinfandels of California

ZinFest blind tasting coming up at Wine & Roses Hotel!

Friday, May 17, 2019 – 2:00-4:00 PM – Wine & Roses Hotel Ballroom (Lodi)

Exactly how do Zinfandels from Lodi’s oldest vines compare to ancient vine Zinfandels grown in Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, Contra Costa and Amador County? The best way to find out is to taste them “blind,” with no preconceptions, just sensory qualities to lead you to conclusions. Preferably with the guidance of some of the most Zinfandel-knowledgeable wine professionals in the state...

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Time Posted: Apr 16, 2019 at 12:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
April 11, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Estate Crush’s new, sparkly iteration of Lodi’s venerated Bechthold Vineyard Cinsaut

In early April 2019, Estate Crush's rows of 133-year-old vertical cordon Cinsaut at the north end of Lodi's historic Bechthold Vineyard

How do you describe the latest wine produced by Lodi’s Estate Crush, Downtown Lodi’s custom crush facility (serving over 60 winery/clients, on top of wines sold under its own brand)? The 2018 Estate Crush Lodi “Carbonated” Cinsault Rosé ($26) is so many things that it is practically “ironic,” as Alanis Morissette once sang, citing a slew of things that can go wrong, and often do go wrong, in our workaday-to-wonderful lives.’’

The wine itself is unabashedly spritzy and positively exudes strawberry/cranberryish fruit in a perfume of remarkably fruit centered purity and in its light, razor-sharp and zesty-prickling sensations, bracing the palate with just a whisper of residual sugar (barely half a gram)...

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Time Posted: Apr 11, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
April 7, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Michael Klouda’s mission to “save” Lodi Zinfandel with his dry style Retro Rosé

Michael Klouda Wines' Michael Klouda harvesting Lodi Zinfandel grapes

It’s ba-a-ack. A pale, transparently pink wine made 100% from black skinned Zinfandel grapes – otherwise known as “White Zinfandel.”

Only, this time around it’s a bone dry pink wine – bottled without one, single gram of residual sugar. To hedge his bets, however, Michael Klouda Wines owner/winemaker Michael Klouda is calling his new fangled wine “Retro Rosé.”

Why? Because dry rosé is one of the hottest wine categories in the market today, whereas the White Zinfandel sales are plunging rapidly. Hence, the hundreds of acres of fields with piles of pulled-up vines – many of these, vineyards planted over 50 years ago – that locals have been seeing all over Lodi during the past three years...

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Time Posted: Apr 7, 2019 at 6:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
April 4, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Spring flings and liquid danger at 2019 Lodi Wine & Food Festival

2019 early spring bud break in Lodi wine country

At the cusp of spring, wrote the poet Marge Piercy, the months become a "rich fresh wine," into which we stagger "smeared with pollen," when “the green will never again be so green, purely and lushly.”

As a more sobering harbinger of events, The Old Farmer's Almanac prognosticates on the upcoming 2019 weather: “Raindrops won’t be falling on heads (as often) in many parts of the U.S., with below normal precipitation expected in the Atlantic Corridor, Appalachians, and Intermountain regions, as well as in the Desert Southwest, Pacific Northwest (including California), Pacific Southwest, and western Hawaii...”

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Time Posted: Apr 4, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
March 26, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

The “no-oak” rebellion at Lodi’s Acquiesce (and history of barrel usage since ancient Roman days)

Acquiesce Winery tasting room, housed in a refurbished 100-year-old barn

The re-opening of Acquiesce Winery’s tasting room – which usually happens after about four months of a “winter slumber” – has become something of a yearly rite of spring for many a Lodi wine lover. Owners Sue and Rodney Tipton welcomed the first of their 2019 visitors and loyal club members just this past weekend (March 15-17).

Close followers of Acquiesce wines are very well aware of why the winery needs to shut down for a third of each year: because the wines – representing a fairly small production, 100% grown and produced in the Tiptons’ own home vineyard – are virtually sold out by November of each year! That’s what success will do for you...

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Time Posted: Mar 26, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
March 22, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

The past, present and future usages of head trained vines in Lodi

Classic 8-spur head trained vine in Burness Vineyard on the east side of Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA

In the 1850s and 1860s, when pioneering growers first began planting wine grapes in Sonoma County, Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountain area, Amador County and, of course, the Lodi Viticultural Area, they planted their vines as free-standing plants – with no trellis wires, just one supportive stake per vine – in a fashion known as "gobelet."

Gobelet literally translates as “goblet,” in reference to the virtual shape of the vine: classically, a trunk topped at no more than a foot or two from the ground, crowned by eight (give or take) “spurs,” which are shortened canes kept as permanent arms positioned around the top (i.e. “head”) of the trunk. In this style of cultivation – said to date back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans yet still commonly practiced throughout Southern France and Spain – most of each year’s growth is pruned back during winter months, leaving buds or nodes at the top of each spur for the growth of typically two new canes in early spring...

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Time Posted: Mar 22, 2019 at 7:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
March 20, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Spring, glorious spring in Lodi wine country!

Spring pruning of old vine Zinfandel in Stampede Vineyard (Clements Hills-Lodi AVA)

Okay, so it’s still a little gray out there, and the ground has not yet completely dried up from the winter rains (but hey, water!), on the first day of spring – or the vernal equinox (as of Wednesday, March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere), when day and night are just about equal in length – here in Lodi wine country.

But if you look closely, buds are just beginning to break out in the fields and vines, and in our annual bushes and trees. That means something, doesn’t it? It’s a yearly reconfirmation of life, just when we thought winter would never end (or rather, as it’s often seemed in recent years, just when we were wondering if we somehow overslept and missed “winter” completely)...

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Time Posted: Mar 20, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
March 14, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Sacramento Bee’s Mike Dunne shares honest feedback on Lodi's latest wines

The Sacramento Bee's Mike Dunne, judging in The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition's sweepstakes round (photo courtesy of Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Mike Dunne is one of those newspapermen whose unimpeachable creds as a published wine pundit were established roughly in the Stone Age. That is, when The Rolling Stones were still considered a voice of “youth” (who knows what you should call them now).

Mr. Dunne officially “retired” from The Sacramento Bee in 2008 after working for this flagship McClatchy daily as a food editor, restaurant critic and wine columnist for some 30 years. But like the Stones, he just never goes away. Instead, he continues to regularly file his impeccably composed “Dunne on Wine” columns at the Bee, covering every conceivable wine region from Washington and Oregon to Chile and Australia, every nook and cranny of California and much of the “old country” in Europe as well. His interests, and therefore insights and erudite commentary, are decidedly global. Plus, as a professional wine judge, Mr. Dunne’s services are in demand up and down the West Coast, and beyond (for a short time, Dunne also served as head judge for the venerable California State Fair)...

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Time Posted: Mar 14, 2019 at 8:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
March 12, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Mountain Tides succeeds with one grape (Petite Sirah), inaugurated with Clements Hills-Lodi fruit

Mountain Tides winemaker/owner Scott Kirkpatrick at Clements Hills-Lodi's Viñedos Aurora Vineyard

There are plenty of American wineries founded with the intention of specializing in one grape, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir or Zinfandel. There is a much smaller handful hanging their hats on grapes like Tempranillo, Syrah, Mourvèdre or Grenache. But Petite Sirah? That may take some guts.

And there is one, based in Napa, sourcing most of its Petite Sirah fruit from... Lodi!

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Time Posted: Mar 12, 2019 at 9:00 AM