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 2, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Our favorite Lodi wine country images of 2016

March spectacle in Bokisch Ranches' Terra Alta Vineyard (Lodi's Clements Hills AVA)

The earliest use of the exact phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” first appeared in an 1918 newspaper advertisement in the San Antonio Light (now the San Antonio Express-News), which read: One of the Nation's Greatest Editors Says... One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

As you might expect, there is a far older Chinese expression that goes, "Hearing something a hundred times isn't better than seeing it once" (百闻不如一见, p bǎi wén bù rú yī jiàn). And in 1861, the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote in his famous novel, Fathers and Sons, "The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book."

No matter what the origin, we’re in complete agreement. When we look at, for instance, the lichen crusted, gnarled and furrowed trunks and spurs of ancient vines, or the sight of thick, inky wine poured into a glass, we can’t help but feel and even taste both a long history and intense flavor with only our eyes. When transformed into a vivid image, whether drawn, painted or photographed, our minds still drink in that richness without a drop touching our tongues.

Hence, our favorite photos, month by month, of Lodi wine country during the past year. To thine own eyes be true...

January 2016

Naked wintering Zinfandel and century-old barn on Lodi's west side

Curvaceous 112-year-old Zinfandel in Harney Lane Winery's Lizzy James Vineyard


Southbound train cruising through winter mustard and ancient vines

Maley Bros.'s Joe Maley, whose family has been farming in Lodi since the 1860s

Marian's Vineyard (own-rooted Zinfandel planted in 1901) in February sunset

Lovers of wine and life during Lodi's annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend

Early bloom in forest of almonds (San Joaquin Valley's #1 crop)

City of Lodi's historic mission arch (originally built for 1907 Tokay Carnival)

Good life among vines and ancient oaks at Oak Farm Vineyards


m2 winemaker/owner Layne Montgomery in his signature Zinfandel source: Soucie Vineyard, planted and farmed by Lodi's Soucie family since 1916

East side Lodi Zinfandel among early spring mustard

Row crop discs and bare sandy loam soil alongside Ripken Vineyards' "Drink Lodi Wine" barn

McCay Cellars winemaker/owner Mike McCay with 6-ft. old vine Zinfandel he bottles as TruLux

Keyhole doorway in Acquiesce Winery's century-old barn/tasting room

Early spring sunset in Bokisch Ranches' Terra Alta Vineyard


Zinfandel bud break in Jessie's Grove's historic Royal Tee Vineyard (planted in 1889)

Native population around Jessie's Grove's 140-year-old barnyard

Barrel tasting in Oak Farm Vineyards

Owner/grower Tegan Passalacqua working his Kirschenmann Vineyard (known for 100-year-old vine Zinfandel going to Turley Wine Cellars and other prestige producers)

Merry month of May

Lodi ZinFest wine lover

All about Lodi grown wine at the annual ZinFest at Lodi Lake Park

Some serious wine appreciation during ZinFest Wine School


Familiar signs at corner of every vineyard block in Lodi wine country

In Mokelumne Glen (unusual Lodi vineyard planted to 45 varieties of German and Austrian grapes), Forlorn Hope winemaker/owner Matthew Rorick shows off his fantastical Gemischter Satz (blending some 30 exotic grapes)


Ancient vine Lodi Zinfandel undergoing mid-season veraison

Close-up of gorgeous colors of Zinfandel during veraison; showing both millerandage (uneven sized berries) typical of the varietal, along with coulure (berries that fail to self-pollinate, which will eventually drop out)

Late July Chardonnay harvest in Michael David Winery's Bare Ranch (often one of the first to ripen in the region)

Early morning in 116-year-old Marian's Vineyard; Zinfandel approaching maturation

Bare Ranch's modest sized Chardonnay (Clone 17) clusters in honeyed golden light of morning

Acrobatic ancient vine Zinfandel in Mohr-Fry Ranches' Marian's Vineyard

The action in August

Mettler & Son mechanical harvester driver at Lodi's Harney Lane Winery

2016's first crop at Harney Lane Winery: fresh, zesty Albariño

Visiting sommelier/industry professional Courtney Cochran sampling Abba Vineyards Grenache at the source

Visiting wine blogger trying his hand at early morning Viognier picking at Michael David Winery's estate

During Wine Blogger Conference in Lodi's Hutchins Stree Square, online wine journalists doing "speed tasting" of Lodi wines

Bokisch Vineyards' Liz and Markus Bokisch (right) entertaining wine bloggers in their Terra Alta Vineyard

In Lodi's Mokelumne Glen, ripening Kerner (rare German crossing) flanking bird's nest

Zinfandel harvest in Harney Lane's Lizzy James Vineyard

Mohr-Fry Ranches' Jerry Fry, recipient of 2016 Grower of the Year awarded by California Association of Winegrape Growers

Cinsaut harvest in Lodi's oldest growth, Bechthold Vineyard (own-rooted vines planted in 1886)

Barrel steam cleaning in Oak Farm Vineyards

Very rare (for California) Pinotage grapes in Mettler Family Vineyards


Fermenting Zinfandel in Macchia winery

Phil Abba explaining the quality advantages of his meticulous Scott-Henry trellising of Syrah in his Abba Vineyard

Pump-over in m2 winery

Break-of-dawn Petite Sirah harvest (for Michael David Winery) in Kevin Phillips' vineyard

Barrel samples of 2016 single-vineyard Zinfandel at Macchia winery


Thick, inky Clements Hills-Lodi grown Petite Sirah (just the way Petite Sirah lovers like it!) in Viñedos Aurora barrel room

Viñedos Aurora winemaker/partner Gerardo Espinosa with 2016 harvest of estate Petite Sirah

Alvalrelhão clusters just before harvest in Silvaspoons Vineyards, Lodi's Portuguese grape specialist

Second-crop Zinfandel (left on the vine) in Kirschenmann Vineyard on Lodi's east side

Open equipment shed in Silvaspoons Vineyards' Mingo Road Ranch in early October morning

Cobbled stones and clay loam of Lodi's Borden Ranch Viticultural Area in Bokisch Ranches' Vista Luna Vineyard

Discarded Zinfandel on floor of The Lucas Winery's ZinStar Vineyard


Firey red leaves of late season in Van Ruiten Family planting on Lodi's west side

Ancient oak and Carignan shrouded in typical November morning fog in Jessie's Grove (these own-rooted vines planted in mid-1890s)

Another Lodi classic: the Know Place Bar in the little CDP of Victor

Soulful survivor: barely fruitful Zinfandel in Noma Ranch (planted in early 1900s)


Mid-December pruning on Lodi's west side

Unpicked 2016 Zinfandel in Aaron Shim's Cemetery Vineyard



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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