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
May 10, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Acclaimed winemakers and rarely seen producers among the wineries pouring at the 2023 Lodi Wine Experience

Vintners pouring at the 2023 Lodi Wine Experience Grand Tasting (clockwise, from top-left): Markus Niggli (Markus Wine Co.), Greg La Follette (Marchelle), Jeff Morgan (Covenant), and John and Jeff Perlegos (Perlegos Family).

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.

Mettler Family Vineyards GM Kim Mettler Eells pouring at Lodi Lake.

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 facility 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.

Wine lovers at Lodi Lake.

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 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 is honest, distinctive, individualistic, and most important of all, highly appealing on a purely sensory level.

Tasting Zinfandel at Lodi Lake.

The other 38 wineries appearing at the Lodi Wine Experience Grand Tasting at Lodi Lake:

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards

Anaya Vineyards

Barsetti Vineyards

Berghold Vineyards

Bokisch Vineyards

Cabana Winery

Consumnes River Farm

The Dancing Fox

d'Art Wines

E2 Family Winery

Kyle Lerner pouring dry rosé at Lodi Lake.

Fields Family Wines

GoodMills Family Winery

Harney Lane Winery

Heritage Oak Winery

Housley's Century Oak Winery

Intercoastal Vineyards

Ironstone Vineyards

Jeremy Wine Co.

Klinker Brick Winery

Klinker Brick owner/grower Steve Felten at Lodi Lake.

LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards

The Lucas Winery

m2 Wines

Macchia Wines

Maley Brothers Vineyards

McConnell Estates Winery

Mettler Family Vineyards

Michael David Winery

Oak Farm Vineyards

Chef/wine educator Tony Lawrence enjoying wine at Lodi Lake.

Oak Ridge Winery

One Way Winery

Peltier Winery & Vineyards

PRIE Winery & Vineyards

Purple Corduroy

Rescue Dog Wines

Rippey Family Vineyards at Lodi Vintners

Scotto's Wine & Cider

St. Amant Winery

Stama Winery

Lodi vintners Bob and Alison Colarossi of Estate Crush (an urban Lodi winery) at Lodi Lake.




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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