The Lodi Life & Times

In Lodi, wine comes first. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Meet the passionate people behind our handcrafted wines and gnarly old vines.

Randy Caparoso
January 22, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Smallest Lodi wineries earn biggest awards at San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Jason Mikami, in his Mikami Vineyards, garnered a "Best of Class" for his Zinfandel

Out of thousands upon thousands of other wines, one little Lodi winery received one of only six “Sweepstake” awards given out by 2013 San Francisco Wine Competition; an honor voted on by some of the most discriminating wine judges in the world.

Ron Justice, the man-Friday who does much of the work at the Sorelle Winery estate, located at an historic site (the Dodge House, built in 1866) at the south end of the Lodi AVA, says “we were as surprised as anyone to hear that our 2011 Sangiovese Rosato won a Sweepstake award at the San Francisco Chronicle competition, but we’ll take it!”

The Sorelle crew: Ron Justice, winemaker Chad Joseph, and owner/grower Mike Scott

In one of our own blogs posted last summer (re Sorelle Sangiovese defies all odds), we described the 2011 Sorelle Sogno Dolce Sangiovese Rosato ($16) as a lightly tart, bone dry, watermelon and lemon perfumed rosé style wine; fashioned from the pink colored saignée or “bleeding” of the Sangiovese juice, drawn off the batches of black skinned grapes before they begin to ferment.”

We must have exquisite taste!

Macchia's Tim Holdener in Noma Vineyard; these tiny zin vines earning double-gold

Lodi, of course, is far better known as a place for Zinfandel:  over 40% of California’s entire crop is crushed here in this Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta appellation each year.   In the San Francisco Chronicle competition, Zinfandels were divided into six price categories.  A total of 19 Lodi grown Zinfandels received gold medals.  Out of those Zinfandels, perhaps the biggest surprise was the “Best of Class” honors conferred upon little known Mikami Vineyards, who entered their Zinfandel in the $35-$39.99 price category.

According to Jason Mikami, a third generation Lodi grower, whose 15 acre vineyard is located on Sargent Rd. on Lodi’s west side, “It’s quite an honor even to be rated alongside so many better known Zinfandel producers, especially from classic Zinfandel regions like Dry Creek Valley.”  Only 125 cases of the 2010 Mikami Vineyards Lodi Zinfandel ($39) were produced; and indeed, the Mikami was singled out as “Best of Class” among 13 other California Zinfandels awarded gold medals in its price category.

The yearly San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition bills itself as The Largest Competition of American Wines in the World.  For the 2013 San Francisco judging, taking place during in the second week of this past January, over 5,500 entries were received, representing wines from more than 25 states (the vast majority of the wines coming from California).

The San Francisco Chronicle Competition is also among the most prestigious in the world because of the sheer quality of its judges.  This year’s competition employed 60 judges:  each and every one of them, highly respected wine professionals, working in the media, restaurant/hospitality, retail, education, viticultural and wine production industries (including former longtime Lodi Winegrape Commission Executive Director, Mark Chandler).

Out of the many other Lodi grown wines winning medals at the 2013 San Francisco Wine Competition, these were the gold medal winners:

“Best of Class” Gold Medal winners
2010 The Lucas Winery, Lodi Chardonnay (for Chardonnay, $25-$25.99)
2011 Harney Lane, Lodi Albariño (all price categories)
2010 Klinker Brick, Lodi Zinfandel (Zinfandel, up to $19.99)
2010 Mikami Vineyards, Lodi Zinfandel (Zinfandel, $35-$35.99)
2010 Klinker Brick, Farrah Lodi Syrah (Syrah, $20-$24.99)
2010 3 Girls (by Oak Ridge Winery), Lodi Merlot (Merlot, $10-$14.99)
2010 Earthquake (by Michael David Winery), Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Sauvignon, $25-$29.99)
2011 Sorelle, Sogno Dolce Lodi Sangiovese Rosato (Dry Rosé, all price categories)

Double-gold winning Stellina Zinfandel

Gold Medals – Zinfandel, $50 & over
2010 Lust (by Michael David Winery), Lodi Zinfandel
2010 m2, Select Block Soucie Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel 

Double Gold Medals* – Zinfandel, $30-$34.99
2010 Harney Lane, Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel
2010 Klinker Brick, Marisa Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel
2010 Stellina, Chiara Lodi Zinfandel
* (“Double Gold” designates wines awarded gold by unaminous vote) 

Gold Medal – Zinfandel, $30-$34.99
2009 McCay, Truluck’s Vineyard Zinfandel

Gold Medal – Zinfandel, $25-$29.99
2010 Watts, Pescador Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel 

Double Gold Medal – Zinfandel, $20-$24.99
2011 Macchia, Outrageous Noma Ranch Lodi Zinfandel 

Gold Medals – Zinfandel, $20-$24.99
2010 Alma de la Vina, Lerner Vineyards Lodi Zinfandel
2010 Harney Lane, Lodi Zinfandel
2010 Fields Family, Sherman Family Vineyards Lodi Zinfandel 

Gold Medals – Zinfandel, up to $19.99
2011 Deep Purple, Lodi Zinfandel
2011 Gnarly Head, Lodi Zinfandel
2010 Mettler Family, Lodi Zinfandel
2008 McConnell Estate, Lodi Zinfandel
2010 Ravenswood, Lodi Zinfandel
2011 Zynthesis, Lodi Zinfandel 

Double Gold – Chardonnay, up to $9.99
2011 Harlow Ridge, Lodi Chardonnay

Gold Medal – Primitivo (all price categories)
2010 Sorelle, Sorriso Lodi Primitivo 

The Zinfandels of Klinker Brick's Steve Felten won both Best of Class and double-gold distinctions

Gold Medal – Sangiovese (all price categories)
2011 Macchia, Amorous Lodi Sangiovese 

Gold Medal – Dolcetto (all price categories)
2009 Milliaire, De Celle Lodi Dolcetto 

Gold Medal – Petite Sirah, $20 & over
2010 Loma Prieta, Amorosa Vineyard Lodi Petite Sirah
2011 Macchia, Rebellious Lodi Petite Sirah
2009 McCay, Lodi Petite Sirah 

Gold Medal – Cabernet Sauvignon, up to $14.99
2010 Cycles Gladiator, Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 

Gold Medal – Cabernet Sauvignon, $25-$29.99
2010 Twisted Roots, Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 

Gold Medal – Cabernet Franc (all price categories)
2010 Inkblot (by Michael David Winery), Lodi Cabernet Franc 

Gold Medal – Tempranillo (all price categories)
2010 Bokisch Vineyards, Lodi Tempranillo
2010 Fields Family, Lodi Tempranillo
2010 m2, Kirschenmann Vineyard Lodi Tempranillo

Gold Medal – “All Other Red Varietals”
2010 Fenestra, Lodi Graciano
2009 Fenestra, Silvaspoons Vineyard Lodi Touriga
2010 Jeff Runquist, River Oaks Vineyard Lodi Carignane
2010 Jeff Runquist, Silvaspoons Vineyard Lodi Tannat 

Gold Medal – “All Red Blends”
2010 Peirano, The Other Lodi Red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah)

Michael David winemaker Adam Mettler, with his gold medal winning Inkblot Cabernet Francs


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