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
March 20, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Spring, glorious spring in Lodi wine country!

Spring pruning of old vine Zinfandel in Stampede Vineyard (Clements Hills-Lodi AVA)

Okay, so it’s still a little gray out there, and the ground has not yet completely dried up from the winter rains (but hey, water!), on the first day of spring – or the vernal equinox (as of Wednesday, March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere), when day and night are just about equal in length – here in Lodi wine country.

But if you look closely, buds are just beginning to break out in the fields and vines, and in our annual bushes and trees. That means something, doesn’t it? It’s a yearly reconfirmation of life, just when we thought winter would never end (or rather, as it’s often seemed in recent years, just when we were wondering if we somehow overslept and missed “winter” completely).

Gabrielle Lurie among ancient vines in Mohr-Fry Ranches (photo by Randy Caparoso)

In a recent break-of-spring, San Francisco Chronicle staff photographer Gabrielle Lurie (also of Gabrielle Lurie Photography) spent a couple of days here in Lodi, snapping shots of the yearly March wine country madness. Lurie’s “eye,” as they say, is phenomenal, which explains her numerous awards, including

• Academy Award Regional Winner 2018 
• Best of NPPA 2017 Environmental Award
• Lumix Award for Northern California Wildfires
• American Photography Award Winner
• Atlanta Photojournalism Award- 3rd Place Winner 

Hence, besides the San Francisco Chronicle, Lurie’s images have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street JournalThe Chicago Tribune, TIME, The Guardian, Getty Images/Agence France-Presse (AFP)National Geographic Proof, The Atlantic, Reuters, CNNMIT Technology ReviewThe Houston Chronicle, Mother Jones, Forbes, Vox, Buzzfeed, Men’s Journal, and... who hasn't published a Gabrielle Lurie photo?

That said, here is a visual feast of Lurie images, bursting with the glorious feeling of another hopeful spring in Lodi wine country:

First budbreak among the Lodi grapevines

m2 winemaker/proprietor Layne Montgomery proudly looking over his "babies" (own-rooted Zinfandel on Lodi's far west side, originally planted by the Soucie family in 1916)

White-washed old barn in Lodi's Mohr-Fry Ranches

Spring pruning of old vine Zinfandel in Clements Hills-Lodi's Stampede Vineyard

Leisurely cycling through Lodi wine country

Appropriate liquid refreshments for a Lodi spring day

Spring pruning crew in Clements Hills-Lodi's Stampede Vineyard

Using a saw as part of the continuous process of reconfiguring the old vine spur positions

Lodi winegrower camraderie: Mike McCay and Keith Watts in TruLux Vineyard

Close-up of decades-old lichen growing on typically +100-year-old Lodi Zinfandel vine

1940s-era own-rooted Lodi Zinfandel beneath a towering palm

Hell's belles finding a mild slope in the otherwise flat terroirs surrounding the City of Lodi

McCay Cellars' Mike McCay painting the early spring sky a Zinfandel-red

Well deserved break among the ancient Lodi vines

Pause for refreshment among postcard-pretty Lodi vines

Vino and conversation stop at local Lodi winery

Portrait of an artist among the hundreds of thousands of Lodi vines begging personal attention during the spring pruning season

Among the ancient vines (planted in 1901!) in the Fry family's Marian's Vineyard, there are still many gloriously golden spring days to come!

One final friendly reminder among the Ripken family vineyards






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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