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 26, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Lasting images of Lodi's 2018 ZinFest weekend

Lodi grower/vintners Jorja and Kyle Lerner (Harney Lane Winery) at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Another year, another memorable Lodi ZinFest, which took place last week May 18-19, 2018.

ZinFest is Lodi wine country's biggest event of each year, and the thousands of wine lovers who attend cannot be wrong about that fact! For those who have attended ZinFests of years past, the exciting thing is being part of a wine culture that has quickly become one of the world's most important. 

Lodi has already achieved this in terms of size: It is easily the largest winegrowing region in the U.S. in number of acres planted as well as amount of wine grapes crushed. More famous places, like Napa and Sonoma, can't touch Lodi in terms of sheer productivity. But for Lodi wine lovers, it's also been the satisfaction of seeing (or rather, tasting) the quality of the wines crafted by Lodi's premium producers steadily improve year after year - by leaps and bounds!

Pouring on the Zin at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Think about it. 10, 15 years ago, it was still pretty much about Zinfandel for Lodi. Today it's about Grenache or Garnacha, Vermentino or Albariño, Tempranillo or Graciano, Piquepoul or Petit Verdot, and at least a couple dozen more varieties of wine types, expanding everyone's horizon and tastes. If you love variety, you drink "Lodi!"

Plus, today's Lodi wines are becoming more well defined; that is, expressive of the region - the Delta's mild, warm Mediterranean climate, and variations of the type of porous soils that wine grapes absolutely love - in a way that makes Lodi Lodi; and not Napa or Sonoma, nor Washington, Oregon, Australia, France, Chile or any other region in the world. These perceived attributes weren't achieved overnight. It takes a while, often centuries, for every region's farmers and vintners to get a handle on what kinds of grapes, and wines, they can grow. Lodi has farmers whose families have been here for as long as over 150 years. They, more than anyone, know that to live is to learn; and what is learned is passed on to the next generation.

ZinFest Vintner's Grille sign with the event's signature red haired lady

But this, we are all now starting to realize: Lodi can grow its own style of wine. And if you love that style, you gotta come to Lodi to enjoy it; or at the very least, stick to buying bottles with "Lodi" on the label.

What is the style of wine natural to Lodi's terroir? Almost across the board, a kinder, gentler wine; fruit forward, often floral and sometimes earthy (as a pleasing complexity), with a refreshing crispness indicative of easy, natural grape acidity. An almost take me sort of sensory seductiveness, as opposed to the tough, austere or severe qualities often found in wines from other regions. This goes for not only Lodi's Zinfandel, but also for the region's Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc, its Albariño and Tempranillo, its Grenache noir or its Grenache blanc - you name it, Lodi has its own take on it.

And that's why we think wine lovers have been flocking to Lodi's ZinFest each year. Each year their "pleasant surprise" gets all the more pleasant! Lodi is the good sized engine "that could."

Our guest photographer, Dale Goff

Which is what you will also see in the photographic images of 2018 ZinFest events shared in this post. All of them snapped by Dale Goff of Goff Photography, who has been photographing Lodi life, wine industry, and local businesses for some 25 years. He, too, has gotten pretty good at what he does.

So without further ado, take it away, Dale!

Entrance to ZinFest Wne Festival

ZinFest wine lovers making a photo-memory

Overhead shot of beautiful Lodi Lake Park duirng ZinFest

Line-up of Zinfandels at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Wine lovers on their way to ZinNirvana

Feeling one-with-Zin at Lodi ZinFest

Lodi vignerons at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

ZinFest Wine Festival moment along Lodi Lake

Sampling Klinker Brick Zinfandel at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Canadian contingent of ZinFest wine lovers pausing for their Kodak moment

Lodi wine lovers getting their "Freakshow" on ZinFest Wine Festival

Samplng Lodi Zins at Vintner's Grille

Enjoying rosés and reds at ZinFest Vintners Grille

Some serious (WFT!) wine lovers at ZinFest Wine Festival

"I want what she has" (commemorative ZinFest bottle)

Spring blooms and wine glasses at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Feeding the manimals (the Lodi farmer/volunteers serving up the wines at Vintner's Grille)

ZinFest Vintner's Grille table setting

Macchia Wines owner Lani Jean doing her thing at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

The Oak Farm Vineyards table at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Quintessentially lush, gentle Lodi Zinfandel at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Gang-of-7-selfie at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Dinner at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

All about Lodi wines at ZinFest Vintner's Grille tables

Dinner is served at Vintner's Grille

Toast to Lodi at Heritage Oak table at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Sun setting over Lodi Lake during ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Dining under the night lights and stars at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

The Vintner's Grille band warms up the crowd of farmers and vintners

And the farmers hit the dance-lawn at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

Dancing with Zinfandel in the dark

Gliding over the Lodi Lake Park turf at ZinFest Vintner's Grille

ZinFest tents surrounded by Lodi Lake

Lodi wine lovin' couple at ZinFest Wine Festival

ZinFest wine glasses and fesitival guides

Taking the boat across Lodi Lake to ZinFest Wine Festival

A good day for Lodi wine at ZinFest Wine Festival

Photo booth props at ZinFest Wine Festival

Just another ZinFest Wine Festival service

Discovering the Lodi grown wines of the new, exciting Paskett Winery

The civilizing ZinFest Wine Festival experience

Sampling San Joaquin Valley grown blueberries and cherries in high season freshness

Threesome-selfie at ZinFest Wine Festival

Photo-bombed couple at ZinFest Wine Festival

What it's all about: locally made Lockeford sausage dogs

Refreshing Lodi grown whites at ZinFest Wine Festival

Chef Chad Rosenthal doing his "Up In Smoke" BBQ demos

Chef Chad Rosenthal demonstrating the art of barbecue seasoning

Lodi wine lovers at Lodi ZinFest

Partners in Wine at ZinFest Wine Festival

Gang of 6 Lodi wine aficionados at ZinFest Wine Festival

This way to ZinFest Wine Festival Cooking School

Enjoying dry rosé matched with dish demonstrated at ZinFest Cooking School

At ZinFest Cooking School: Chef Tony Lawrence with winemaker Jeremy Trettevik, LangeTwins Family Winery's Randy Lange and KCRA host Teo Torres

Samplng Cooking School dishes ZinFest Wine Festival

What's not to love about Lodi's ZinFest Wine Festival?

Relaxing sounds at the ZinFest Music Lounge

BFF Lodi wine lovers at ZinFest Wine Festival

ZinFest Wine School tent

ZinFest Wine School guest speaker, Covenant Wines owner/winemaker Jeff Morgan

The Cripple Creek Band hits the ZinFest Wine Festival stage

Wine lovers getting happy feet near ZinFest Wine Festival stage

Lodi's finest with ZinFest Wine Festival wine lovers

The Cripple Creek Band's Eric Anderson on his crowd rockin' fiddle

Good times near ZinFest Wine Festival stage

During Lodi's ZinFest weekend it's ultimately about the juice



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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