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
December 17, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Our list of nice Lodi reds, rosés and fortified dessert wines for Christmas gifting and sipping

In 1914 the City of Lodi set up an impressive-sized Christmas tree right in the middle of Pine St., next to the landmark Lodi Arch

Lodi wines are pretty darned good. Many of us know that, and many still don't. 

Some magazines, not all, have also been coming to a conclusion in the affirmative. This past year, for instance, the internationally read Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Lodi's Michael David Winery its 2020 American Winery of the Year. Let's put that in perspective: In the most recent Statista report, the number of wineries operating in the U.S. is quoted as "almost 11,000," nearly half of them in California. Therefore, at least one major wine magazine thinks a Lodi winery ranks among the best of some 10,999 other wineries. Not too shabby...

At the same time, we like to think that there are numerous other Lodi-based wineries also doing outstanding work. Most, of course, are not like Michael David, which is now producing about three-quarters of a million cases a year. Almost all the other Lodi wineries produce less than 30,000 cases; the vast majority, less than 5,000 cases.

But as wine-savvy consumers well know, there is much joy in tiny production wines. Call them "handcraft," "artisanal" or "boutique." And like Michael David, they all deserve our respect and support for what they do, especially during this particular holiday season as we go through fraught times, economically and socially.

Cozy farmhouse in Lodi's Jahant AVA

As a follow-up to our last post on Lodi's best or most interesting white wines (re A Lodi white makes the world's Top 100 list, and other Lodi whites for Christmas shopping and sipping), we have just come up with a list of Lodi's nicest reds, rosés, and fortified dessert wines. We apologize for the length of our list, but every time we thought of one good wine, another two or three popped up in our minds that could also be considered very, very nice.

All qualitative judgments of wine, of course, are a state of mind, or matter of opinion. It's wine, for Pete's sake, and so not everyone has the same taste. Wine Enthusiast Magazine, for instance, describes Michael David wines as "ripe and bold." What if you don't prefer "ripe and bold," but instead, "lean and subtle?" Or something in between? Even in Lodi, wines are grown and crafted to express varying sensory qualities, yet all are considered to be quite fine, thank you.

Nonetheless, if anything, we truly believe that you can depend on finding a taste that is representative of "Lodi" in each of the following wines on our "nice" list. The vast majority of these bottlings are priced between $12 and $35—another huge, positive thing about buying Lodi—although a handful gets close to $69, which seems to be the ceiling for Lodi-grown wines.

And so, dear holiday shoppers, please consider the following ideas for gifting or sipping, each of them examples of the "best of Lodi":

Mettler Family Vineyards

Alicante Bouschet
St. Amant Winery, Mohr-Fry Ranch
St. Jorge Winery, Vierra Estate

Natural wreath of red leaves around clusters of Lodi-grown Alicante Bouschet

Heritage Oak Winery
Jeremy Wine Co.
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Macotera 09 Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi
Oak Farm Vineyards
PRIE Winery & Vineyards, C. Lewis Vineyard
Sorelle Winery
St. Amant Winery

Cabernet Franc
Inkblot (by Michael David Winery)
Ironstone Vineyards
McCay Cellars

Cabernet Sauvignon
Anaya Vineyards, Clements Hills-Lodi
Concrete Wines
Earthquake (by Michael David Winery)
Harney Lane Winery
Klinker Brick Winery, The Brick
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyard, Railroad Vineyard, Jahant-Lodi
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Thirty-Eight Vineyard, Jahant-Lodi
Mettler Family Vineyards
McManis Family Vineyards
Oak Farm Vineyards
Peltier Winery & Vineyards, Schatz Farms Family Reserve, Clements Hills-Lodi
Rapture (by Michael David Winery)
Van Ruiten Family Winery, Signature Reserve

Alquimista Cellars, Jessie's Grove Vineyard
Jessie's Grove
Klinker Brick Winery
Markus Wine Co., Domo (blended with Petite Sirah)
McCay Cellars
Michael Klouda Wines
PRIE Winery & Vineyards, 1900, Spenker Ranch

Heritage Oak Winery
Paskett Vineyards & Winery

Peltier's Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon qualifies as one of America's finest by any standard

Alquimista Cellars, Bechthold Vineyard
Estate Crush, Bechthold Vineyard
Fields Family Wines, Bechthold Vineyard, Mokelumne River-Lodi
Jessie's Grove, Bechthold Vineyard
Michael David Winery, Bechthold Vineyard
McCay Cellars, Bechthold Vineyard
Onesta Wines, Bechthold Vineyard

Klinker Brick Winery

Bokisch Vineyards, Las Cerezas Vineyard, Mokelumne River-Lodi
Bokisch Vineyards, Terra Alta Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi
Heritage Oak Winery (blended with Tempranillo)

Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha, Terra Alta Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi
McCay Cellars, Abba Vineyard

Oak Farm Vineyards
Tizona (by Bokisch Vineyards), Linden Ridge Vineyard

PRIE Winery & Vineyards, Hux Vineyard

PRIE Winery & Vineyards, Silvaspoons Vineyard

Galloping Hills Ranch, Clements Hills-Lodi
Going Viral (by Michael David Winery)
Maley Bros.
McManis Family Vineyards

December colors in Lodi Zinfandel leaves

LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, River Ranch Vineyard, Jahant-Lodi
Watts Winery, Los Robles Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi

Bokisch Vineyards Monastrell, Sheldon Hills Vineyard, Sloughhouse-Lodi
Klinker Brick Winery
Mettler Family Vineyards

Nero d'Avola
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Redtail Vineyard, Jahant-Lodi

Anaya Vineyards, Clements Hills-Lodi

Petit Verdot
Heritage Oak Winery
Inkblot (by Michael David Winery)
McManis Family Vineyards
Oak Farm Vineyards, Mokelumne River-Lodi
PRIE Winery & Vineyards, Hux Vineyard
Tizona (by Bokisch Vineyards), Patriot Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi

Petite Sirah
Earthquake (by Michael David Winery)
Harney Lane Winery
Heritage Oak Winery
Ironstone Vineyards
LangeTwins Winery & Vineyards, One Hundred Vineyard, Jahant-Lodi
McCay Cellars
Mettler Family Vineyards
Mikami Vineyards
Mountain Tides Wine Co., Palmero Family Vineyard, Borden Ranch-Lodi
Mountain Tides Wine Co., Viñedos Aurora Vineyards, Clements Hills-Lodi
Old Soul (by Oak Ridge Winery)
Peltier Winery & Vineyards
Petite Petit (by Michael David Winery)
St. Amant Winery, Mohr-Fry Ranch

Vineyard cat in Lodi's Jessie's Grove

Pinot Noir
McManis Family Vineyards
Ripken Vineyards

Mettler Family Vineyards

Harney Lane Winery
Sorelle Winery
Oak Farm Vineyards

Ripken Vineyards

Avivo (by DeVero Farms & Winery), River's Edge Vineyard, Mokelumne River-Lodi
Sorelle Winery

6th Sense (by Michael David Winery)
Klinker Brick Winery, Grand Reserve
Fields Family Wines, Fields Family Vineyard, Mokelumne River-Lodi
Fields Family Wines, Whole Cluster, Mokelumne River-Lodi
McCay Cellars, Abba Vineyard
Markus Wine Co., Zeitlos (blended with Petite Sirah)

Bokisch Vineyards, Gran Reserva
Bokisch Vineyards, Las Cerezas Vineyard, Mokelumne River-Lodi
Bokisch Vineyards, Liberty Oaks Vineyard, Jahant-Lodi
Fields Family Wines, Lot 13 Vineyard, Mokelumne River-Lodi
m2 Wines, Kirschenmann Vineyard
McCay Cellars, Lot 13 Vineyard

Festive barrels in Lodi's Estate Crush Winery

LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Jahant Woods 02 Vineyard
Peltier Winery & Vineyards, Schatz Family Reserve
Ripken Vineyards

St. Jorge Winery, Touriga Nacional, Vierra Estate

Alquimista Cellars, Jessie's Grove Vineyard
Alliance Winery
Bedrock Wine Company, Kirschenmann Vineyard
Concrete Wine Company
Earthquake (by Michael David Winery)
Fields Family Wines, Stampede Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi
Harney Lane Winery
Harney Lane Winery, Lizzy James Vineyard
Harney Lane Winery, Scottsdale Vineyard
Heritage Oak Winery, Bartlam
Heritage Oak Winery, Block 5
Heritage Oak Winery, ZINHEAD
Ironstone Vineyards, Old Vine Reserve
Ironstone Vineyards, Rous Vineyard Reserve
Jessie's Grove, Royal Tee Vineyard
Jessie's Grove, Westwind Vineyard
Klinker Brick Winery, Marisa Vineyard
Klinker Brick Winery, Old Ghost
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Centennial
The Lucas Winery, Late Harvest Zinfandel
The Lucas Winery, ZinStar Vineyard
Lodi Native, Lot 13 Vineyard (by McCay Cellars)
Lodi Native, Marian's Vineyard (by St. Amant Winery)
Lodi Native, Soucie Vineyard (by m2 Wines)
Lodi Native, Wegat Vineyard (by Maley Bros.)
Lust (by Michael David Winery)
m2 Wines, Soucie Vineyard
m2 Wines, Select Block, Soucie Vineyard
Macchia Wines, Generous (Mohr-Fry Vineyard)
Macchia Wines, Luxurious (Rous Vineyard)
Macchia Wines, Mischievous
Macchia Wines, Serious (barrel selection)
Macchia Wines, Voluptuous (Maley Vineyard)
McCay Cellars, Bonnotto Vineyard
McCay Cellars, Contention
McCay Cellars, Faith, Lot 13 Vineyard
McCay Cellars, Jupiter
McCay Cellars, Rous Vineyard
McCay Cellars, TruLux Vineyard
McManis Family Vineyards
Mettler Family Vineyards, Epicenter
Michael Klouda Wines, Hatterle Vineyard
Michael Klouda Wines, 1902
Mikami Vineyards
Oak Farm Vineyards, Hohenrieder Vineyard
Oak Farm Vineyards. Mohr-Fry Ranches
Peirano Estate, The Immortal Zin
PRIE Winery, Soucie Vineyard
Rippey Family Vineyards
Sandilands Wines
St. Amant Winery, Marian's Vineyard
St. Amant Winery, Mohr-Fry Vineyard
Stellina (by Estate Crush)
Stonum Vineyards
Tizona (by Bokisch Vineyards), Süss Vineyard, Clements Hills-Lodi
Twisted Roots Winery, 1918

A winter day at Spenker Winery & Creamery

Red Wine Blends
Fields Family Wines, Sans Souci Red, Mokelumne River-Lodi
                  (Cinsaut, Carignan, Syrah)
Heritage Oak Winery, Carnivál 
                  (Tempranillo, Graciano and/or Malbec)
Heritage Oak Winery, Olé 
                  (Tempranillo, Graciano and/or Syrah)
Heritage Oak Winery, Petite 
                  (Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot)
Heritage Oak Winery, Triolo 
                  (Sangiovese, Barbera and/or Zinfandel)
Heritage Oak Winery, Voilá 
                  (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and/or Cabernet Franc)
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Midnight Reserve
                  (Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot)
Markus Wine Co., Blue
                  (Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Malbec)
Markus Wine Co., Sol
                  (Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and/or Petit Verdot)
Markus Wine Co., Toura
                  (Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Petite Sirah)
Markus Wine Co., Zeitlos
                  (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignan)
Mettler Family Vineyards GSM
                  (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre)
Michael David Winery, Politically Correct
                  (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Petit Verdot)
Paskett Vineyards & Wines, Cabrona Blend 
                  (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah)
St. Jorge Winery, Vinho Tinto Belo
                  (Tinta Roriz, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão, Trincadeira)

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards, Grenache Rosé
Bokisch Vineyards, Terra Alta Vineyard Rosado, Clements Hills-Lodi
                  (Garnacha with Tempranillo and/or Graciano)
Fields Family Wines, La Vie En Rosé, Mokelumne River-Lodi
                  (Mourvèdre and Syrah)
Heritage Oak Winery, Barbera Rosé
Klinker Brick Winery, Bricks & Roses
                  (Grenache with Carignan, Syrah and/or Mourvèdre)
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Aglianico Rosé, River Ranch Vineyard, Jahant-Lodi
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards, Sangiovese Rosé
m2 Wines, Rosé (Zinfandel blended with Carignan)
McCay Cellars, Reserve Rosé
McCay Cellars, Rosé of Carignane
McCay Cellars, Rosé of Cinsaut
McCay Cellars, Rosé of Grenache
Michael David Winery, Cinsaut Rosé, Bechthold Vineyard
Michael Klouda Wines, Retro Rosé (Zinfandel)
Mikami Vineyards, Rosé (Zinfandel)
Mountain Tides Wine Co., Rosé of Petite Sirah
Oak Farm Vineyards, Rosé (Grenache)
Onesta Wines, Rosé of Cinsaut, Bechthold Vineyard
Peltier Winery & Vineyards, Rosé of Pinot Noir
Peltier Winery & Vineyards, Rouge Rosé (Cabernet Sauvignon)
St. Amant Winery, Barbera Rosé

Fortified Dessert Wines
d'Art Wines, Port 
                  (Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah)
d'Art Wines, Tawny Port (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Peltier Winery & Vineyards, USB (Syrah)
St. Jorge Winery

Christmasy red and green colors with second-crop Carignan in Spenker Ranch's 1900 block on Lodi's west side



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

Have a question? Complete our contact form.