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 18, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

The perfect holiday refresher: Sorelle Vin Brulé

The Sorelle estate, on the site of the historic Dodge House

The Sorelle estate, on the site of the historic Dodge House

In recent weeks, lucky visitors to Sorelle Winery have been treated to a special drink:  a classic mulled (or “spiced”) wine that Mike Scott and his family – owners and growers of this outstanding Lodi AVA winery, specializing in Italian varietals – have been calling Sorelle Vin Brulé.

Sorelle, vin brule

If we were the type to dish out numerical ratings, we’d give Sorelle’s Vin Brulé 100 points, based upon pure deliciousness and holiday spirit.   Our notes on the Vin Brulé:  dark raspberry color; warm and fuzzy temperature; pungent with comfy, wintry spices of cinnamon and clove, laced with snappy, pomegranate-like, citrus peel sensations; the sumptuous spiced berry flavors lingering long and luscious, with piquant Zinfandel-ish fruitiness.

Just makes you want to snuggle by a crackling fire in wool socks, and smile with your loved ones.

Says Ron Justice, the Scott family’s man-Friday around the vineyard estate, “Typically we serve a glass of the Vin Brulé at the end of our tasting flight.  We have it ready to go in a warmer, which keeps it at a perfect temperature.

“Most people are shocked by how good it is.  Everyone says it’s like a holiday in a glass.  A lot of people say they normally don’t like sweet drinks, but they love our Vin Brulé.  It definitely has the smell of the holidays, because of the mulling spices.”

All the ingredients to make a Sorelle Vin Brulé, in fact, can be purchased at the Sorelle Winery estate (or ordered from Sorelle’s Shop Online page), located at the southernmost tip of the Lodi region, on the site of the historic Dodge House (built by San Joaquin Valley pioneer Jonathan Holt Dodge in 1866).   The Scotts, however, have been generous enough to share their recipe.

Needless to say, the main ingredient is the Sorelle Sorriso Lodi Primitivo ($22); a fantastically fine, juicy red wine – possessing natural, holiday-ish spiced berry qualities of its own – that we’ve just named among Lodi’s 12 most interesting wines of 2012.  Barring that, just about any of Lodi’s softer, juicier styles of Zinfandel (since Primitivo is a clonal variant of Zinfandel) would make a good substitute.

Sorelle, Kim & Melissa 2

Melissa and Kim Scott, enjoying their Sorelle Vin Brule

The Sorelle Vin Brulé

1 package Frappé Vino mix
1 bottle Sorelle Lodi Primitivo
1 bottle (48 oz.) unsweetened cranberry or pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon whole cloves and allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
Orange zest or fresh slices

Directions:  mix all the ingredients together, then heat without boiling for an hour.  Remove spices, add orange zest to each glass, and enjoy.

Information on the Frappé Vino spice mix sold by Sorelle may be found on the d’marie Web site (please note:  you’ll probably save by ordering the mix directly from Sorelle).  The Scotts also use the Frappé Vino for their Sorelle Wine Slushy, which they serve during summer months.

Although it isn’t necessary (if you drink fast enough), the warmer used by Sorelle is the Nostalgia Electrics Hot Chocolate Maker, sold by Bed, Bath & Beyond (see  The idea, says Justice, is to “keep the Vin Brulé warm, but not hot like coffee.”

Have a Lodi holiday!

Sorelle, Kim, Joanne & Melissa

Sorelle's Joanne, Melissa and Kim Scott



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

Have a question? Complete our contact form.