Letters from Lodi

An insightful and objective look at viticulture and winemaking from the Lodi
Appellation and the growers and vintners behind these crafts. Told from the
perspective of multi-award winning wine journalist, Randy Caparoso.

Randy Caparoso
March 4, 2024 | Randy Caparoso

Early sensory report on Lodi's challenging, yet exceptionally promising, 2023 vintage

McCay Cellars raising a toast in one of his old vine Zinfandel blocks.

California's 2023 harvest, you might have heard, was problematic, especially in the Lodi appellation

In Lodi, the challenges were more economic than those of issues imposed by Mother Nature. It was, in short, a cooler than usual vintage. Theoretically, this is good, because Lodi is a warm climate winegrowing region. But as San Joaquin County Viticulture Farm Advisor Jim Kissler put it, “Some growers had trouble obtaining the minimum sugar requirements of 22˚ Brix [i.e., sugar readings]... and growers without a home for their grapes found it frustrating."

As of 2023, the entire California wine grape industry is beset with a problem of oversupply. Many vineyards up and down the state went unpicked last year, with vineyard owners left holding the bag. According to a report posted by Stuart Spencer (Executive Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission) this past December 4 on the Lodi Growers page...

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Randy Caparoso
February 28, 2024 | Randy Caparoso

Ode to Lodi's legendary Flame Tokay, never to be forgotten

Flame Tokay—a.k.a., Ahmeur bou Ahmeur—on own-rooted Mokelumne River-Lodi grapevine over 130 years old,

About eight miles east of the City of Lodi, there is a short country lane called Tokay Colony Road, demarcated by Hwy. 88 to the west and N. Tully Rd. at its eastern end. It's an interesting road because it was named for the grape variety called Tokay—more properly known by its full name, Flame Tokay—which for about 100 years was the most widely planted grape in the Lodi wine appellation.

Only, it was never really a wine grape. Flame Tokay was primarily a table grape, grown for the fresh market, in supply for no more than a month's time each year...

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Randy Caparoso
February 21, 2024 | Randy Caparoso

Favorite Lodi Zinfandel and cheese matches

Mokelumne River-Lodi Zinfandel cluster and cheese.

The air is still a little nippy, if not downright damp, which  is why I, for one, tend to tucker down in the safety of my four walls at night. Preferably with a bottle of Zinfandel.

I drink Zinfandel with almost everything, including my favorite foods, such as spaghetti and meatballs, pan fried pork chops, Asian spiced barbecued baby back ribs, hibachi grilled salmon, or just plain pasta and garlic. How do you spell comfort?

Zinfandel, as it were, is also surprisingly good with cheese. Especially the gourmet type cheeses you find at Cheese Central, the artisanal cheese store owned by Cindy Della Monica, located in Downtown Lodi...

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Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

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