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
December 27, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

The 10 most interesting blogs of 2013

Late December 2013: just-pruned old vine Zinfandel on Lodi’s west side

Late December 2013: just-pruned old vine Zinfandel on Lodi’s west side

What are the blogposts from the past twelve months that we love best? Those would be the ones that explain exactly what makes Lodi AVA grown wines different from wines grown elsewhere in the world.

Make no mistake: with more than 80 bonded wineries in Lodi today (more than twice as much as just ten years ago), we are seeing more handcrafted, premium quality wines with Lodi on the label than ever before. As a result, we are also starting to see more wines distinguished by sensory qualities unique to this American Viticultural Area — something that went largely unnoticed up until recently.

Twenty years ago, sensory qualities reflecting terroir — or “sense of place” — was virtually non-existent in Lodi bottlings, since in those days practically all the region’s wine grapes went into either big production blends or generic wines (what we used to call “jugs”), or else White Zinfandel. But no more…

Classic shot berry Lodi Zinfandel, veraison 2013

Classic shot berry Lodi Zinfandel, veraison 2013

The more premium quality wines tasting distinctly of “Lodi” are made, the more respect the entire region gains among consumers, wine media and trade, and connnoisseurs of fine wine. That’s why we love Lodi, and that’s why we love these blogs:

Pictorial guide to what makes Lodi Zinfandel so unique: Lodi grows over 40% of California’s yearly Zinfandel crop; by far, the most in the state. What are the viticultural distinctions that define Lodi’s finest Zinfandels? This blogpost not only talks about this, it also shows you.

Michael David’s annual Zinfandel growers tasting reveals east vs. west side distinctions: Each year Lodi’s largest producer of premium wines (Michael David Winery) invites grower/suppliers from both the east and west side of Lodi to come together to taste the latest, still-unbottled vintage of Zinfandels from their own vineyards — a tasting that reveals the fascinating terroir related distinctions of both sides of the AVA.

Critics take notice of Zinfandel’s “coming of age”: This post explains why, as a varietal wine, California Zinfandel in general has been gaining more respect among wine connoisseurs and critics — as the result of the recent proliferation of Zinfandels made in balanced, moderated styles, as opposed to Zinfandels made in high alcohol, ultra-ripe, heavily oaked styles (although it is totally possible to produce a big, richly oaked Zinfandel that is also elegantly balanced, and Lodi’s best producers are doing that, too).

The mystery of Zinfandel – a plot as thick as the wine: The origins of Zinfandel — a true Vitis vinifera (the same family of wine grapes from which all the world’s finest wines are made) have been shrouded in mystery for over 100 years. This blogpost catches you up on the latest findings of ampelographers (i.e. scientists of the vine), who have been traveling around world in search of Zinfandel’s origin.

December 2013: early winter pruning of Zinfandel on Lodi’s west side

December 2013: early winter pruning of Zinfandel on Lodi’s west side

The mystery of Zinfandel, part 2 – the long strange trip from… somewhere: Part 2 of our mystery story talks about how Zinfandel got from wine regions around the Adriatic all the way to California — a fortuitous if circuitous, sketchily documented route.

The most spectacular time of year: veraison 2013 in Lodi: A photographic essay on what happens to grape vines in the middle of the season, as they turn their energy and nutrients from growing canes and foliage to ripening of fruit.

The 10 most interesting Lodi grown wines of 2013: Lodi is about a lot more than Zinfandel. We count over 100 varieties and clonal variations of wine grapes grown in the Delta (more than any other single region in the world). Hence, this selection of 10 Lodi wines of especially unusua, and significant, interest.

Abba Vineyards grows Grenache comparable to “Pinot Noir”: Although long a staple in California vineyards, Grenache has recently come out as a hot, “new” varietal red; and the story of the Abbas is a familiar one in Lodi, where many wine grape growing families have been farming for as long as +150 years.

Abba Vineyards turns sunlight into Syrah perfection: Another post focusing on the Abba family’s meticulous, innovative viticulture, reflecting a culmination of everything the industry has learned about the art of winegrowing (as opposed to industrial “grape growing”) over the past few years.

Lodi vintners capture elusive joys of Tempranillo: An update on the impact of terroir and clonal selections on this native Spanish grape, which we are now beginning to taste in Lodi’s top Tempranillo bottlings.

Picture-perfect Abba Vineyards Syrah

Picture-perfect Abba Vineyards Syrah



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