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.
Acclaimed winemakers and rarely seen producers among the wineries pouring at the 2023 Lodi Wine Experience
The Saturday, May 20, 2023 Grand Tasting segment of the Lodi Wine Experience will be an opportunity to taste wines by 44 wineries, most of them considered the finest producers of Lodi.
In 2023, however, the Grand Tasting will also feature a few producers who do not have tasting rooms in Lodi, or are based outside of the appellation—hence, tasting their wines, and being able to personally chat with their principals, owners or winemakers will be a rare and extraordinary opportunity indeed.
Some of the more rarely seen or less accessible brands appearing at the Grand Tasting in Lodi Lake:
Covenant Wines—The Berkeley-based Covenant winery specializes in authentic kosher wines, but it is far, far more than that. All the Covenant wines are of handcrafted, ultra-premium quality. While owner/winemaker Jeff Morgan—who will be pouring at Lodi Lake with his daughter, operations director Zoë Morgan Koelewijn—is known for wines sourced from prestigious vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Israel, he is also a huge proponent of Lodi grown grapes, producing a compelling battery of varietals unique to the appellation.
Marchelle Wines—Normally, if you endeavor to taste the wines of Marchelle's Greg La Follette—an internationally acclaimed winemaker of legendary status—you need to make an appointment to meet him at his Sebastopol, Sonoma County faciliity to taste among his barrels. Lodi Wine Experience enthusiasts will be able to personally chat with Mr. La Follette, and not only that: the Lodi wines Mr. La Follette will be pouring are all made from the region's absolute oldest vineyards, planted in 1886, 1889 and 1900 respectively. Needless to say, a chance to experience phenomenal wines crafted by one of California's most prestigious winemakers.
Markus Wine Co.—Owner/winemaker/grower Markus Niggli is something of a legend himself. Although he lives and labors in Lodi, he hones his craft in a tiny old building in Victor, a hamlet east of the City of Lodi, with no tasting room or visitor facilities. But Lodi insiders know that the Markus Wine Co. wines are almost without peer—most of them, masterful blends of a dazzling array of grapes, yet all of them ultra-intense expressions of Lodi terroir, reflecting Mr. Niggli's European origin and instincts, and penchant for the purity of native yeast fermentations.
Perlegos Family Wine Co.—Owners Jeff and John Perlegos are second generation Lodi farmers of Greek lineage who have established a stellar reputation among numerous small, handcraft, "cool kid" winemakers for the pure, dependable quality of their grapes. The Perlegos family's own wines are crafted in a low intervention style aimed at capturing the freshest and brightest attributes of grapes most suitably adapted to Lodi's Mediterranean climate, including an extremely rare Assyrtiko (the finest white wine grape of Greece, grown in this country's Mediterranean islands for thousands of years).
Christopher Cellars—This handcraft, low intervention style winery did not exist the last time there was a big wine event at Lodi Lake (the Lodi ZinFest, now called Lodi Wine Experience, re-appearing after a three-year hiatus). Christopher Cellars is based in nearby Elk Grove, making their tasting room is slightly "off the beaten path." Lodi Wine Experience enthusiasts will want to beat a path to the table where owner/winemaker Chris Mora and co-owner Candice Mora will be pouring their squarely contemporary, sleek, fresh, acid driven styles of wines.
Seis Soles Wine Co.—Seis Soles is a new style brand that does not have a brick-and-mortar home, but the wines are making waves because they are made to appeal to as wide a range of consumer as possible by Chris Rivera, a winemaker with a younger generation's mindset who is of Michoacán, Mexico descent. If anything, each of the Seis Soles wines are honest, distinctive, individualistic, and most important of all, highly appealing on a purely sensory level.
The other 38 wineries appearing at the Lodi Wine Experience Grand Tasting at Lodi Lake:
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards
Rippey Family Vineyards at Lodi Vintners