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, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Ursa Vineyards finds dream warm climate grapes in Lodi's Alta Mesa appellation

Ursa Vineyards co-owner/winemaker Greg Stokes in his Placerville mountain tasting room

Greg Stokes and Deborah Elissagaray, the husband/wife winemaking owners of Ursa Vineyards, relocated to the Sierra Foothills back in 2001 from Santa Cruz Mountains in order to pursue their love of warmer climate winegrowing, after meeting at David Bruce Winery where they specialized in Pinot noir.

While they source most of the grapes for their Ursa label wine in the Foothills, naturally they’ve also been drawn to the Lodi Viticultural Area because, as Stokes puts it, “We also love to work with unusual stuff...”

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Randy Caparoso
September 3, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Exactly why, at 10 to 15 years, a Lucas Lodi Chardonnay is just beginning to spread its gold tinted wings

The Lucas Winery owner/grower/winemakers David Lucas and Heather Pyle examining Chardonnay vintages stretching over 20 years with dinner at Wine & Roses Hotel's Towne House Restaurant

In Lodi we talk a lot about Zinfandel because it’s been the appellation’s leading wine grape at least since the 1880s.

But Lodi also grows a lot of Chardonnay. According to the USDA’s 2018 California Grape Acreage Report, there are 12,416 acres of bearing Chardonnay vines in Lodi, compared to 17,814 acres in Monterey, 15,819 acres in Sonoma County, and 7,860 acres in San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara.

Although Chardonnay grows well in Lodi, an actual “style” for the varietal as a premium Lodi grown wine has yet to be identified, but that may soon change. Slowly but surely, family owned wineries such as Michael David Winery, Harney Lane Winery and Oak Farm Vineyards have been etching out a profile of bright fruit buoyed by crisp natural acidity in their commercial bottlings...

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Randy Caparoso
August 29, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

A grape visual of why Lodi grows what it grows, and its impact on wine variations

Red fleshed Alicante Bouschet cluster from Rauser Vineyard, planted in 1909 on Lodi's east side

Historic Impact of Climate and Soil on Grape Selections and Wines

One thing growers and wineries have learned long ago about Lodi, by far and away America’s largest winegrowing region, is that wines from this region have their own sense of place.

Cabernet Sauvignons grown in Lodi, for instance, tend to be softer in feel and more fruit-forward in aromas than Cabernet Sauvignons grown in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Santa Cruz Mountains or Washington’s Walla Walla Valley. Why? Because of Lodi’s warm Mediterranean climate with its daily diurnal swings (i.e. average 91°/60° in Augusts, 84°/55° in Septembers). Plus the fact that grapes grown in Lodi see the sun from sun-up to sundown without the interference of fog or excessive wind, and because many of Lodi’s Cabernet Sauvignons are grown in deep, vigorous sandy loam soils, which are more conducive to softer tannin red wines than shallower, clay based soils...

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Randy Caparoso
August 21, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Where to find some of the marked heritage vineyards of Lodi

2019 Zinfandel growing in Klinker Brick's well marked Marisa Vineyard on Lodi's east side

Most of the Lodi’s growing legion of wine fans have come to know the top brands. Names such as Michael David Winery, Klinker Brick Winery, LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, and Mettler Family Vineyards have been making waves from coast to coast, not to mention in Alaska and Hawaii. Largely within the local market, smaller brands brands such as Harney Lane Winery, Oak Farm Vineyards, McCay Cellars, Acquiesce Winery, the tiny Fields Family Wines or the long established The Lucas Winery have been carving out their own modest sized niche in very limited or no outside markets at all.

Nonetheless, hardly any of these Lodi wine lovers – even those who take the time to visit and explore Lodi wine country – have any real idea of exactly where the vineyards sourced by these wineries are located. Lodi is a sea of vines – far more vineyards than anywhere else in the U.S. – yet the whereabouts of these vineyards have been practically a secret...

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Randy Caparoso
August 19, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Spenker Winery’s amazing new farmstead goat cheeses add immensely to Lodi’s culinary community

Spenker Winery winemaker/cheesemaker Berryann Spenker labeling her specialty Shirley's Dream goat cheese

“I loved cheese,” explained Bettyann Spenker to a captive crowd of visitors to her Spenker Family Winery & Artisan Creamery,” but I was never a cheese expert. But I was a winemaker, so I thought, why not? I taught myself to be a cheesemaker.”

Two weekends ago the Spenker family’s combination winegrowing/cheesemaking barn finally opened for business, well over a year after their 24 or so “working” goats of multiple breeds, plus their ever-growing brood of kids, got their own new, comfy barn. And when we say “family,” we mean family: Right now the entire operation is run by Bettyann with her grape growing husband Chuck (a third generation Lodi farmer) manning the wine counter, popping open the bottles, while daughter Kate (the graphic artist/designer in the family) handles the cheese samples and other-daughter Sarah does most of the talking and pouring while ringing up the brisk sales...

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