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
May 1, 2014 | Randy Caparoso

Swirl, sniff, sip, spit, then shop hard-to-get wines at the ZinFest Wine Festival

ZinFest wine maven

ZinFest wine maven

The ZinFest Wine Festival on Saturday, May 17, 2014 will be an opportunity to taste over 200 wines representing the incredible diversity of winegrowing going on in the Lodi American Viticultural Area.

We mean that figuratively, of course. Please don't taste all 200+ wines – we don't want to carry you out on a stretcher.

We strongly recommend, however, following classic wine tasting protocol: swirl, sniff, sip and spit. This will allow you to take in an amazing number of fascinating wines grown and produced in Lodi.

But wait, there's more: many of these wines will also be available for purchase in the ZinFest Wine Shoppe – another opportunity to load up, especially on the harder-to-get handcrafted wines that you’ve read about or heard of, but simply aren't available through normal retail channels.

Lodi ZinFest

Lodi ZinFest

To help you plan your afternoon in Lodi Lake Park, the following is a heads-up on the special wines that will be poured; with the wines listed with asterisks (*) available for purchase in the ZinFest Wine Shoppe, plus some of our remarks:

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards
Pure, 100% unoaked, acclaimed wines crafted by owner Sue Tipton and star consulting winemaker Heather Pyle Lucas.
*2013 Grenache Blanc
*2013 Grenache Rosé
*2013 Viognier

Berghold Winery
Finely sculpted wines, estate grown by the Berghold family.
2008 Syrah
2012 Viognier
2012 Footstomp Zinfandel

Lodi ZinFest

The Bokisch table during ZinFest

Bokisch Vineyards
All from Markus and Liz Bokisch's famed Bokisch Ranches vineyards – Spanish and Portuguese varietal bottlings, second to none in the U.S., and most certainly comparable to the finest from Europe. A must-stop!
*2013 Albariño
*2011 Graciano
*2013 Verdelho
*2011 Tempranillo

Borra Vineyards
Wines like the ancient vine Barbera based Heritage Red exemplify the cutting edge quality of Lodi's oldest existing bonded winery, led by third generation Lodi grower/owner Steve Borra and his European born winemaster Markus Niggli.
2011 Heritage Red
2013 White Fusion
2012 Zinfandel

d'Art Wines

d'Art Wines

Owners Dave and Helen Dart produced a reliably balanced, fluid style of wine of unerringly vivid varietal distinctions (particularly a killer Barbera!).
*2010 Tempranillo
*2011 Barbera
*2010 Zinfandel
*N/V Dog Day Red


E2 Family Winery
The Ehlers clan behind E2 can trace their arrival in the Delta region back to the 1830s, and their experience as winemaker/growers since the 1920s.
*2012 Verdelho Elegante
*2012 Zagan's Fire Pinot Noir
*N/V Farmer's Table Big Blush
*2012 Zagan's Fire Zinfandel

Estate Crush
This is Downtown Lodi's custom crush facility, producing wine for over 60 winery/clients. Hence, the masterful consistency intrinsic in their own brand of wines; including a Cinsault from Lodi's oldest vineyard (the historic Bechthold Vineyard, planted by the Spenker family in 1886), and one of the silkiest, prettiest Zinfandels (the Stellina) grown on Lodi's west side.
*2012 Albariño
*2012 Rosé
*2012 Cinsault
*2011 Stellina Old Vine Zinfandel

Fields Family Wines
Owners Ryan Sherman and Russ Fields have burnished a sterling reputation for handcrafted wines of both intense quality and expression of Lodi terroir.
2012 Sherman Family Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel
*2012 Century Block Old Vine Zinfandel

Happy ZinFesters

Happy ZinFesters

Gnarly Head & Brazin
By the Indelicato family (owners of DFV Wines), all these wines epitomize the exuberant fruit focus, reliable roundness, and amazing value of Lodi grown wines.
2010 Gnarly Head Zinfandel
2010 Gnarly Head Authentic Red
2010 Brazin Zin

H-G Vineyards
H-G (Hansen Garbarino Vineyards) represents over 150 years in the California wine industry, now focused particularly on the beauty of Lodi grown fruit.
*2012 Mustache Merlot
*2012 Hansen Cellars Viognier
*2012 Rock Lobster Zinfandel
*N/V Tickle Sparkling Raspberry Wine

Harney Lane Winery
Owners Kyle and Jorja Lerner carry on a winegrowing tradition (as one of the more significant branches of the Mettler family) dating back to the early 1900s; and today, their Harney Lane estate exemplifies all that is amazing about Lodi – incredible grapes, even more incredible, meticulously crafted wines, and an enduring, uncompromising commitment to that quality and family feel far into the future.
*2012 Albariño
*2012 Rosé
*2011 Zinfandel
*2010 Tempranillo

Happy ZinFesters


Heritage Oak Winery
Owners Tom and Carmela Hoffman grow and produce wines in an idyllic setting along the banks of the Mokelumne River on Lodi's east side; their puristic, non-nonsense, delicious wines expressing every bit of their intense love of the land and devotion to sustaining Lodi's environment.
2013 Sauvignon Blanc
2011 Block 14 Zinfandel
2011 Old Vine Zinfandel

Ironstone Vineyards
The Kautz family who own Ironstone are one of Lodi's largest growers; typically, cherry-picking the absolute finest of what they farm to produce the impeccably crafted wines bottled under their own label.
*2012 Obsession Symphony
*2013 Petite Sirah
*2013 Old Vine Zinfandel
*2010 Reserve "Rous Vineyard" Old Vine Zinfandel

Jeremy Wine Co.
These unique wines reflect the handcrafted approach of owners Jeremy and Choral Trettevik, mining the best of Lodi's quality focused growers.
*2011 Barbera
*2013 Vermentino
*2012 Zinfandel

Life is good next to Lodi Lake

Life is good next to Lodi Lake

Jessie's Grove Winery
Owner/grower Greg Burns is the present-day custodian of his family's Spenker Ranch – the eldest of Lodi's continuously farmed wine estates – making the taste of any Jessie's Grove wine also the taste of a living, vibrant, inspiring history.
*2013 Muscat Blanc
*2010 Earth, Zin & Fire Zinfandel
*2012 Chardonnay
*2011 Westwind Old Vine Zinfandel

Kidder Family Winery
Lodi "insiders" all know the magical, deft touch of winemaker/owner/grower Aaron Kidder – these are intricately balanced, finely textured wines that also enthrall the senses with their intensity.
*2011 Syrah
*2011 Duet
*2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Klinker Brick Winery
The Felton family's Klinker Brick wines are now appreciated in most states across the country; a dramatic success story lending credence to the old adage that the proof is always in the pudding – or in this case, in these fantastically rich, round, impeccably crafted wines.
*2012 Farrah Syrah
*2011 Old Vine Zinfandel
*2013 Rosé
*2011 Brick & Mortar Red Blend

LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards
ZinFest Wine-by-the-Glass Sponsor!
An entire army of Langes is involved in every phase of this major league family vineyard and winery operation, with roots in Lodi going back as far as the 1860s. Their wines reflect this simple fact: incredible farmers produce incredible fruit, turned into wines of seemingly effortless quality, integrity and value.
*2013 Sangiovese Rosé
*2011 Zinfandel – Estate
*2012 Caricature
*2013 Sauvignon Blanc Musqué Clone

m2 Wines
A combination of guts, grit, instinct for unadulterated quality, not to mention a finely honed sense of humor, have all turned m2 Wines, driven by the one-and-only Layne Montgomery, into one of Lodi's most acclaimed boutique sized wineries.
*2012 Century Vineyard Zinfandel
*2012 Old Vine Zinfandel, Soucie Vineyard
*2011 Tempranillo

Macchia Wines
When it comes to handcrafted, single-vineyard bottled Zinfandel and Italian varietals, it's hard to find much better than Macchia's. These are, simply put, powerful wines, showing off the absolute best of Lodi's heritage vineyards.
*2012 "Delicious" Barbera
*2012 "Mischievous" Zinfandel
*2012 "Amorous" Sangiovese
*2012 "Flirtatious" Zinfandel

Macchia’s Tim and Lani Holdener at ZinFest

Macchia’s Tim and Lani Holdener at ZinFest

Maley Brothers
If you are into miniscule sized "grower-wineries," a stop at Maley's table is an absolute must: grapes grown by a family who has been in Lodi since the 1860s, now turned into exquisite wines by the widely respected consulting winemaker, Chad Joseph.
*2010 Zinfandel
*2012 Chardonnay
*2011 Petite Sirah

McCay Cellars
ZinFest Wine-by-the-Glass Sponsor!
This producer has been on a roll for going on three, four years; garnering kudos and "Top 100" (in the world) rankings by "cool-kid" reviewers such as San Francisco Chronicle's Jon Bonné. Why the fuss? Don't ask us – stop by and taste for yourself why owner/grower/winemaker Mike McCay's sleek, minimalist approach is knockin' them dead.
*2010 Jupiter Zinfandel
*2013 Rosé
*2032 Tres Blanc
*2011 Truluck's Zinfandel

Winemaker Mike McCay at ZinFest

Winemaker Mike McCay at ZinFest

McConnell Estates Winery
The first of the McConnells arrived in the present-day Cosumnes River AVA of Lodi (near Elk Grove) in 1849; and the Wackmans (the other major branch of the family), in 1863. A sixth generation is now involved in these vineyards, producing wines tasting distinctly of Lodi's northernmost, Delta influenced sub-region.
2010 6 Gen Zin
2011 6 Gen Zin
2007 Petite Sirah
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Zinfandel

Mettler Family Vineyards
Larry and Charlene Mettler now lead this venerated family, which during the past 115 years has grown to dominate Lodi's east side, where the soil is the sandiest and most porous, producing (arguably) the AVA's deepest, most concentrated wines. The Mettlers proudly hang their hat on a nationally acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon (they have piles of gold medals to prove it!), and a trencherman's Zinfandel that is second to none.
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Epicenter Old Vine Zinfandel

Michael David Winery
ZinFest Wine-by-the-Glass Sponsor!
This is Lodi's premier ultra-premium winery and grower. The breadth of what the Phillips family – Lodi farmers since the 1860s – is nearly staggering; and the pure, steadily growing quality of their wines, even more amazing. Another must-stop!
*2011 7 Deadly Zins
*2012 Michael David Winery Chardonnay
*2012 Symphony
*2012 Earthquake Zinfandel
*2011 Petite Petit
2011 Earthquake Cabernet
2011 6th Sense Syrah
2012 Incognito White

Wine lovers of every stripe at ZinFest

Wine lovers of every stripe at ZinFest

Oak Farm Vineyards
ZinFest Wine-by-the-Glass Sponsor!
Come and check out the wines of one of Lodi's newest producers, esconsed on the site of the historic DeVries Estate (first established in 1864).
*2012 Barbera
*2012 Chardonnay
*NV Tievoli Red Blend
*2011 Zinfandel

Oak Ridge Winery
Longtime Lodi growers Rudy Maggio and Don and Rocky Reynolds own this rapidly growing producer of super-value, popular wines.
*2012 3 Girls Chardonnay
*2012 Maggio Old Vine Zinfandel
*2011 Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel
*2012 OZV Old Vine Zinfandel

One Way Winery
Another one of Lodi's new (established 2009), promising producers; specializing in an estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon.
*2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
*2010 Pinot Grigio
*2011 Zinfandel
*Lot 9 Cabernet Sauvignon

Peirano Estate Vineyards
Despite being a very old estate (established in the 1890s), this is one of the hottest Lodi wineries today; garnering no less than five gold medals (including a unanimously proclaimed double-gold for their Syrah) at the 2014 San Francisco Wine Competition (one of the toughest judgings in the nation)! These are classical, finely balanced styles of Lodi wine, impeccably grown by founder Giacomo Peirano's present-day heir, Lance Randolph.
2012 The Immortal Zin
2011 "The Other" Red Blend
2010 "The Other" White Blend
2012 Reserve Syrah

Peltier Station
Owner/grower Rod Schatz, and his talented South African born winemaker JC van Staden, take the back seat to none in terms of originality and sheer quality of their wines.
*2013 Hy·brid Chardonnay
*2009 Petite Sirah
*2010 Zinfandel
*USB Dessert Wine

Robert Lauchland Vineyards
Another special, itty-bitty grower-label, forged from grapes grown by longtime, widely respected Lodi farmer, Bob Lauchland.
*2011 "Crazy Legs" Old Vine Zinfandel
*2013 "Hat Trick" Pinot Grigio

Good times, good friends at ZinFest

Good times, good friends at ZinFest

Scotto Family Cellars
A chance to experience the wines of this recently established winery (since 2009), owned by the Scottos – California growers since 1883.
2012 Regio Zinfandel
2011 Regio Malbec
2011 Old Vine Zinfandel

St. Amant Winery
One of Lodi's more revered artisanal producers – most of region's winemakers consider St. Amant's Marian's Vineyard Zinfandel to be the "mother" of all Lodi Zinfandels – originally founded by the late, great Tim Spencer, and now carried on by Barbara Spencer and her son, winemaker/owner Stuart Spencer.
*2012 Barbera
*2013 Barbera Rosé
*2012 Mohr-Fry Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel
*2012 Speakeasy Red

St. Sophia
A rare opportunity to taste the multi-award winning Zinfandels bottled under the St. Sophia label, produced as part of the Paul Simeon Collection.
*2007 Zinfandel
*2008 Zinfandel
*2012 Zinfandel

Stama Winery
Stama owners, the Kapiniaris family, proudly trace their grape growing roots back five generations to Southern Greece.
*2011 Old Vine Zinfandel
*2012 Chardonnay
*2012 Zinfandel Rosé
*2009 Nymph Cabernet

The Dancing Fox
Owner/winemaker Gregg Lewis is one of Lodi's most respected growers, quietly carving out his own style of bright, zesty wine.
NV Firedance White
2011 Sangiovese
20011 Red Zorro
2011 Zinfandel

Toasted Toad Cellars
This is definitely a family run operation; and for the Werters, winemaking is all about family, friends, food and fun.
*2013 Blushing Toad
*2011 Viognier
*2011 Primitivo
*2012 Toadilly Luscious Wine

ZinFest poster girl lookalike

ZinFest poster girl lookalike

Upstream Wines by Watts Winery
ZinFest Wine-by-the-Glass Sponsor!
Third generation Lodi grape grower Keith Watts has been quietly, and steadily, upping the ante with his estate grown wines in recent years; producing a more elegant, balanced style of Lodi wine, as fresh and aromatic as any.
*2012 Upstream Zinfandel
*2012 Upstream Cabernet Sauvignon
*2012 Upstream Chardonnay
*2012 Upstream Rosé

Van Ruiten Family Winery
The Van Ruitens – who own some of the most coveted vineyards on Lodi's west side, extending out into the Delta – also know a thing or two about winemaking.
2011 Glory Days Zinfandel
2011 Old Vine Zinfandel
2012 Zinfandela

Vicarmont Vineyards & Winery
Vic and Carrie Mettler easily produce Lodi's finest Merlot (and who still doesn't like a sturdy, opulent Merlot?) along with a number of other wines in their generous, well rounded house style.
*2012 Chardonnay
*2011 Merlot
*2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
*2011 Zinfandel

Victor Vineyards
ZinFest Wine-by-the-Glass Sponsor!
Something new and exciting: taste the first (2011) and second vintages of wine produced by owner/grower Robert Lawson.
*2011 Zinfandel
2012 Zinfandel
2011 Roadside Red
2012 Roadside Red
*2012 Chardonnay

Viñedos Aurora
Another one of Lodi's great success stories: outstanding estate grown wines cultivated by the four Anaya brothers (Victor Jr., Ramon, Armando and Gerardo) and winemaker Gerardo Espinosa.
2013 Albariño
*2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
*2010 Sintesis
*2010 Petite Sirah

What ZinFest is all about…

What ZinFest is all about…



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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