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 22, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Images and memories of Lodi's 2017 ZinFest

Oak Farm Vineyards owner Dan Panella at Vintners Grille with Lodi style bone dry rosé

Over 5,000 wine lovers cannot be wrong! That's how many gathered in Lodi wine country this past weekend to enjoy a Friday Vintners Grille, where they were able to rub shoulders and boogie under the stars with Lodi growers and winemakers, as well as the big, annual Saturday ZinFest Wine Festival bash.

As an indication of how far the reach of Lodi grapes and wines has grown, about a quarter of 2017's ZinFesters counted themselves as out-of-staters; coming from as far flung as Canada, Texas and Tennessee, the East Coast and Hawaii, and seemingly everywhere in between.

Weekend temperatures up and down the state hit the 90s, but Lodi's ZinFest proved to be the place to be, as it takes place in the lush, bucolic setting of Lodi Lake Park, surrounded on three sides by Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River, with their icy waters flowing down from the Sierra spring snow melt.

Combine that with century-old oaks and towering weeping willows, you have a fairly heat-resistant wine festival; although glasses of the many fine dry, Provençal inspired rosés and light, zesty alternative style whites (can you say Albariño, Kerner, Garnacha Blanca, Vermentino and Verdelho, etc.?) now grown and crafted in the breezy Delta were certainly as welcome as sips of Lodi's ruby red pièce de resistances (from Alicante Bouschet to Tempranillo, Teroldego and, of course, immortal Zinfandel).

But like we said, thousands of thoroughly enthused Lodi wine lovers, from the most casual to the geekiest, cannot be wrong, as these colorful photo-memories will attest...

Colorful wine lovers at the ZinFest Vintners Grille

What it's all about, Lodi Zinfandel

Inviting tables under silky white drapes at ZinFest's Vintners Grille

Keeper of the Zins at Vintners Grille

Entrance to the big Vintners Grille tent

Turquoise and joyfully dry Lodi rosé

Lodi Winegrape Commission Executive Director Wendy Brannen with winemaker Chad Joseph at Vintners Grille

Klinker Brick's head winemaker Joseph Smith (right) with Cellarmaster Chris Rivera

Enjoying dry Lodi rosés by the lake at Vintners Griille

Heritage Oak owner/winemaker Tom Hoffman (left) with PRIE Winery's John and Lisa Gash

Vintners Grille goes into rock 'n roll mode

P.R. mogul Katie Ballou Calhoun with ZinFest speaker/educator Deborah Parker Wong and blogger "Emily the Jetsetting Fashionista" at Vintners Grille

Lodi ZinFest ready to get started

ZinFesters enjoying Michael David Winery's Freakshow reds

The LangeTwins Family's ZinFest tables

Lodi Lake from Lodi Lake Park

Lodi Winegrape Commission staff arrives to get ZinFest rolling

The Fields Family Wines gang

Appropriately parasoled shady ladies

Sipping discreetly at the Maley Brothers table

ZinFesters talking wine and good times

Beautiful clear bottles of Acquiesce wines

Dr. Stephanie Bolton, Lodi Winegrape Commission's Director of Grower Communications, educating ZinFesters on Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing

The educational side of Lodi ZinFest

Wine lover taking in a ZinFest Wine School class on Bechthold Vineyard, Lodi's oldest historic vineyard (planted in 1886!)

San Francisco Wine School educator Fred Swan leading tasting on Bechthold Vineyard Cinsauts

Guest speaker Deborah Parker Wong DWSET taking notes and preparing for her Wine School presentation on Lodi grown Spanish and Portuguese varietals

Ripken Vineyard owner/grower Rip Ripken waiting to speak at ZinFest Wine School

ZinFest Wine School audience

Tasting Bokisch Graciano at ZinFest Wine School

New generation wine lovers at ZinFest Wine School

Celebrity Chef Chad Rosenthal enthralls crowd of barbecue lovers during his "Up In Smoke" demonstrations

Beautiful sight: rich, pungent, velvety smooth Lodi Zinfandel

Curious ZinFest wine lovers at Harney Lane Winery table

Some very serious ZinFest wine lovers

The red haired "ZinFest lady"

At ZinFest Wine School, Lodi winemakers cooling their jets: Bob Colarossi (Estate Crush), Markus Niggli (Markus Wine Co.), Mike McCay (McCay Cellars), and David Phillips (Michael David Winery)

A "Mighty Wind" moment at Lodi ZinFest

Another satisfied ZinFest wine lover

Harney Lane Winery owner/growers Jorja and Kyle Lerner

Another great idea at Lodi ZinFest

Entrance to ZinFest Cooking School beside Lodi Lake

Lodi ZinFest bean bag toss (why not?)

Bottle service under big tent at Lodi ZinFest

Wine lovers gathered under shade at ZinFest Piano Bar

Piano man Joe Spraker at ZinFest Piano Bar

Relaxing in style on the grass at ZinFest Wine Bar

Hanging loose alongside Mokelumne River at Lodi ZinFest

Group shot alongside Mokelumne River at Lodi ZinFest

Feeling good at Lodi ZinFest

Tasting around the barrel head at Lodi ZinFest

All about the wine (and shoes) at Lodi ZinFest

Chilling out under gigantic weeping willow tree in Lodi Lake Park

For this ZinFester, two glasses is definitely better than one

Good times, great wines at Lodi ZinFest

The cool crowd at Riaza Wines table


Korduroy takes the big ZinFest stage with their irresistably rhythmetic Afro/Latin/reggae-funk jazz vibes

Isaac Lopez (front-center) leads San Joaquin Valley's amazing Korduroy

Lodi grape grower Ben Kolber sits in with Korduroy

Korduroy's guitar, bass and rhythm section

Enjoying Korduroy's rocking Latin influenced jazz

Groovin' to the live music under the big tent at Lodi ZinFest

McCay Cellars' Mike and Linda McCay (left and right) with P.R. mogul Katie Ballou Calhoun and her husband Alexander

Time for a ZinFest refill

End of another great ZinFest!

Snap Jackson & the Knock on Wood Players serenading the ZinFesters

Banner along Lodi Lake walkway

At the end of the day, the real "Lodi natives" reclaiming their lake and river

It's a wrap for another memorable Lodi ZinFest








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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