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.
Lodi’s November autumn splendor
November’s sky is chill and drear, November’s leaf is red and sear , wrote Sir Walter Scott.
Wherefore we cannot let the season pass without at least one photographic ode to the colors exploding in our vineyards as we speak. The phenomenon, as you know, occurs when temperatures dip and leaves are divested of chlorophyll, the pigment that photosynthesizes solar energy during warmer months.
As the greenery of chlorophyll recedes from the cellular walls, the brilliant golds and oranges of carotenoids take over. Reds and purples, however, come from another group of pigments in leaf cells called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are also a key component found in the skins of red wine grapes, polymerizing with tannins and contributing to the richness and stability of red wines.
But as beautiful as they are, the deep reds of anthocyanins are not always welcomed. When they appear in grape vine leaves, they are also symptomatic of a pesky disease called leafroll virus; which, if occurring before grapes are fully ripened, can stunt growth and, in extreme cases, eventually kill a plant. Still, many vines live for years and years with leafroll virus.
Each year, for instance, one of the Lodi AVA‘s most spectacular displays of fall color – a veritable sea of deep, saturated reds – is put out in a field of Alicante Bouschet, a grape variety genetically prone to leafroll virus, cultivated by Mohr-Fry Ranches: originally planted in 1919, and still producing some of Lodi’s richest, sturdiest wines!
When leaves change their summer splendor, to paraphrase verse by Carol Riser, to raiment red and gold… when the summer moon turns mellow and the nights are getting cold… then we know that it is autumn – loveliest time of the year!