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.
New stars, music & winemaking 101 courses at Lodi’s Estate Crush
What Lodi AVA winery produces and sells no less than 65 different wines each year – the vast majority of these wines farmed by longtime Lodi growers? The answer, of course, would be Estate Crush, located at the corner of Downtown Lodi’s W. Lockeford and N. Sacramento streets.
Estate Crush is actually a state-of-the-art custom crush facility specializing in small lot production for both boutique sized wineries (based in and outside of Lodi) and a number of Lodi growers turning tiny percentages of their grapes into wines sold under commercial brands of their own.
So if you wish to experience, say, classic old vine Zinfandel grown by Ross Schmiedt (who cultivates grapes for prestige wineries like Turley, keeping a little for his Twisted Roots label), or Clements Hills AVA Grenache and Tempranillo grown by Derek Halecky (selling to wineries in Lodi, Livermore and Napa, while keeping a little for his own Hunters Oak brand), then you must come to Estate Crush.
The catch: Estate Crush is opened to the public only on Fridays (2-7 PM), Saturdays and Sundays (normal weekend hours, 12-6 PM). When they do open, they pour at least 18 wines at a time, while offering over 65 bottlings (under some 40 different labels) for retail sale or on-premise consumption. For a list of their current tasting flights and prices, please visit their Tasting Room page on their Web site.
The three Estate Crush managing partners – Nick Sikeotis, with Bob and Alison Colarossi – have also announced a couple more new activities to pique your interest:
- On the second Saturday of each month (including this coming Saturday, October 13), there will be Live Music in the Estate Crush Tasting Room, from 6 to 9 PM – a perfect way to enjoy their fascinating array of wines by the glass, or even bottle.
- Also on the second Saturday of each month (starting October 13 at 1:30 PM), the three amigos will host Barrel Tasting Tours, perfect for burgeoning wine lovers curious to learn everything there is to know about winery operations and winemaking, at a 101 level. For $18/person, this 90 minute oenological immersion will include a course on wine tasting and wine/cheese matching (cheeses chosen by Cindy della Monica of Downtown Lodi’s Cheese Central), a souvenir Estate Crush wine glass, and an additional 15% discount on any bottle purchases (please email Alison Colarossi at email@example.com to reserve a spot for yourself or a small group).
Finally, it is important to remember: Estate Crush does produce more than a few kick-butt wines – the most important thing of all. During our own most recent visit, we tasted three of their latest releases qualifying as as significant by anyone’s standards, whether you are a discriminating connoisseur or a novice who is perfectly satisfied with discovering wines that are smooth and refreshing:
2011 Estate Crush, Lodi Sangiovese ($22) – Sangiovese is the grape of Italy’s Tuscany region (and its famed sub-regions of Chianti, Montepulciano and Montalcino). This red wine fulfills much of what Tuscan wine lovers seek in such wines: pure, fresh, filigreed fragrances of red cherry, burnt leaves and brown kitchen spices, with taut, silken, dry, upbeat, zesty sensations of cinnamon sticks and cherries, bolstered by mild yet firm tannins that makes the palate scream for things like pasta alla primavera, white beans in vinous green olive oil, or even just a salad of heirloom tomatoes and fresh, baby soft, quivery mozzarella di bufala in pungent, prickly balsamic vinaigrettes.
2010 granfors, Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel ($26) – Grown on Lodi’s east-side, off Peltier, by the Hohenrieder family (who also own the Lodi based Watermark Labels; printing labels for many of Lodi’s finest wineries), this wine is godsend for those who a prefer zippier, moderately weighted, fresh styles of Zinfandel with an emphasis on the cinnamon/pepper spiced, strawberry-jam side of the varietal fruit profile. The feel is full, but the moderate tannins are well rounded, finishing with just a smidgen of toasty oak.
2010 Stellina, Chiara Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel ($32) – From the Colarossis’ own vineyard on Lucas Rd. (not far from The Lucas Winery), this wine is a primo, crème de la crème, non ultra plus expression of west-side Lodi style zin: that is to say, soft and tender (or as Macchia’s Tim Holdener likes to put it, “voluptuous”), almost promiscuously lush in the raspberry-jam, floral/violet aspects of the grape. Velvet textures accentuate a medium-full, fleshy body, rounded out by moderate tannin. What are you waiting for? Una nuova stella è nata at Estate crush — and more, much more, where that comes from!