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.
Scary vineyard inspires Klinker Brick's Old Ghost
Klinker Brick's Old Ghost is born from a tale worthy of Halloween.
On a dark, foggy morning long ago
In a place few would dare to go
There stood a grower in the eerie light
Gazing at a frightful sight
Gnarled vines cast shadows in the mist
Causing the grower to wonder, what is this?
As the sun rose, it became all too clear
The grower had nothing to fear
The shadows cast were old and true
Zinfandel clusters showing flecks of blue
The gnarled vines would soon bring cheer
For their fruit went into bottles loved far and near
No one could have known on that dark, foggy morn
A beautiful wine would be born
So, what to name this wine crafted from its spooky host?
But simply and aptly ... the Old Ghost
The story behind Klinker Brick’s Old Ghost is kind of spooky — a perfect Halloween tale.
Actually, the name, Old Ghost, was inspired by a vineyard.
More than a decade ago, in the foggy, pre-dawn hours, Steve Felten looked over an abandoned vineyard along the Mokelumne River planted to head-trained Zinfandel. He said some of the vines were missing and other parts appeared to be dead.
"It was a mess and there was a little fog sifting through it," said Felten, winegrape grower and owner of Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi. “It looked kind of eery and I said, ‘It looks like a ghost takes care of this place.'”
Felten put his fear aside and made wine from the spooky, abandoned vineyard. He tasted it, along with other lots, for his flagship Zinfandel. But the wine from the spooky, abandoned vineyard tasted so good, he decided to release it on its own. And because of its origin, he called it Old Ghost.
The 2003 Old Ghost was the first vintage from the spooky vineyard. Since 2007, the vineyard sources, all of them Klinker Brick estate properties, have changed, but the mission has remained the same.
“The Ghost isn’t tied to one vineyard,” Felten said. “It’s whatever we feel is the best, like a reserve wine.”
The Old Ghost label is etherial — embossed white on white. The wine sees 60 percent American and 40 percent French oak. Felten describes the wine as being elegant with layers of flavor that shows the versatility of the grapes and vineyards in Lodi, and what growers and winemakers can do with them.
Klinker Brick makes about 5,000 cases of Old Ghost and sells out every year.
“It’s our cult wine,” he said. “It has a tremendous following.”