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
January 6, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Initial report on Lodi's 2022 vintage and favorite images from the harvest

2022 Chenin blanc picker in Borden Ranch-Lodi's Palmero Family Vineyard.

The 2022 harvest is in the books, the grapes turned miraculously into wine, and wineries preparing whites and rosés in tanks for bottling and checking on other wines resting in barrels.

In an initial report posted last November, California's Wine Institute summarized the state's overall performance as such:

Vintners across the state are expecting a high-quality vintage for 2022 following a season filled with curveballs. For many California wine regions, this was a tale of two harvests, as a Labor Day [September 3-5] heat wave divided the season into earlier and later picks. As harvest wraps up across the state, vintners predict that 2022 will produce memorable wines of great concentration and complexity.

2022 Cinsaut harvest in Bechthold Vineyard, Lodi's oldest vineyard (planted in 1886).

Lodi appellation growers and vintners have reported the same challenges, and similar results: excellent quality!

The Wine Institute quoted LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards Vineyard Manager Aaron Lange, who said, "We thought it all but wiped out some of our north Delta and Clarksburg Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot grigio, but it turned out that we did all right."

According to Lange, their family operation—which farms over 7,000 acres of wine grapes, primarily in Lodi—brought in about 25% of the normal yield for the aforementioned varieties. Variable spring weather with unseasonably warm temperatures was followed by cool, windy conditions contributing to shot berries and shatter in Zinfandel and other sensitive varieties; yet in the end, yield sizes came in around average.

2022 Chardonnay rosa, one of the many innovative grape varieties cultivated by LangeTwins Family Vineyards in the Lodi appellation.

In Lodi, the Labor Day heat wave impacted both scheduling and capacity, while the frost delayed ripening in the whites. Said Lange, “At most major wineries, there was a major capacity crunch from a cooperage and fermentation tank perspective.”

The key to success in 2002, said Lange, was healthy vineyards, which did fairly well during the heat event and followed a normal development trajectory. Reported Lange, "White varieties looked good, since vineyard crews picked most fruit prior to the heat wave, and larger canopies helped protect the reds from heat and sunburn."

A few of our favorite images from the 2022 Lodi harvest:

Picking knife and picker, ready to go, the morning of the first day of the 2022 harvest in Lodi's Mokelumne Glen Vineyards.

Craig Rous hand sorting 2022 Zinfandel in his own eponymous vineyard, originally planted in 1909.

Blaufränkisch, a grape of German origin and one of the many cutting-edge cultivars grown in the Lodi appellation.

Grape picker with 2022 Mission, an heirloom variety that produces a lighter style of red wine, recently making a comeback in Lodi and other California wine regions with historic vineyards.

Albariño, a cultivar that (unlike other California wine regions) has become a mainstream, rather than "alternative," varietal in Lodi

Calling it quits after picking old vine Zinfandel all night, a picker strips off his outer garment and head lamp in Lodi's Clements Hills appellation.

2022 picker clipping off less desirable berries from a Carignan cluster in one of Lodi's old vine blocks still planted to this classic Mediterranean variety.

Pink skinned Flame Tokay, once Lodi's most widely planted grapes, going into a mixed bin along with Zinfandel and Carignan in one of Lodi's oldest blocks, planted in the late 1800s.

2022 Zinfandel picker in Mokelumne River-Lodi's Steacy Ranch, originally planted in 1907.

The near-forgotten Colombard, which old timers remember as "French Colombard," still grown in Lodi's Borden Ranch appellation.

2022 old vine Carignan harvest in a recently rehabilitated Mokelumne River-Lodi AVA  block named Nicolini Ranch.

Typically pale yet brilliantly pigmented Mission grapes in a Mokelumne River-side block named Somers Vineyard.

A visiting wine professional samples old vine Lodi Carignan in the vineyard.

Reddish, or rather grayish, colored Pinot gris grapes (a.k.a., Pinot grigio) in Lodi's Van Ruiten Family Winery.

Visiting wine influencers experiencing the 2022 Lodi harvest in Abba Vineyard, planted to Syrah on the east side of the Mokelumne River appellation.

Typical small cluster morphology of old vine Zinfandel grown in Mokelumne River-Lodi's phenomenally deep, porous yet rich and vigorous sandy loam soil.

Beautifully gnarled, twisting, dramatic ancient vine architecture (own-rooted Zinfandel planted in 1902) in the extremely sandy soil of the east side of Lodi's Mokelumne River appellation.

2022 Zinfandel picker in the Perlegos family's Cherryhouse Vineyard, a "young" (for Lodi) vineyard first planted in the 1970s.

2022 Cinsaut in Lodi's oldest vineyard (the venerated Bechthold Vineyard, planted in 1886).

Typically hefty 2022 Flame Tokay in Jessie's Grove's Royal Tee Vineyard, dating back to 1889.

Picking Black Prince—once popular in the 1800s but now extremely rare—in one of Lodi's ancient vine blocks.

One of the many faces of Lodi's winegrowing industry during the 2022 harvest.



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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