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
April 8, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

ZinFest School’s savory lesson plan


Spring break! (Peirano's 114 year old vines)

The ZinFest Wine School at Lodi’s ZinFest Wine Festival, taking place this coming May 14 in the lush riparian setting of Lodi Lake Park, will offer wine lovers a picnic basketful of opportunities to learn while you savor the vinous bounties of Lodi.

For instance, have you ever wanted to experience the task of a winemaker, blending wines sourced from different vineyards or barrels to make the best possible wine?  Michael Perry, a 25 year veteran in the wine industry (and Direct to Consumer/Wine Club Manager of m2 Wines), will start the school off by helping you blend your own Zinfandel from components coming from some of Lodi’s finest old-man vines.


The final segment will be the Lodi Wine is Cheese Central Friendly seminar led by Downtown Lodi’s Cheese Central proprietor Cindy Della Monica and’s multi-award winning wine “expert” (translation:  he spends his working days steeped in fine wine), Randy Caparoso:  everything you wanted to know about Zinfandel/cheese matching, and probably more!


m2 mixmaster/manager, Michael Perry

Here’s the skinny on all the savory lessons you can enjoy at the ZinFest Wine School:

Blend Your Own Zinfandel (1-1:45 PM)

U2 can be a Lodi winemaker!  Join m2’s Michael Perry in this do-it-yourself jam session.

Lodi’s New Kidz on the Block (2-2:30 PM)

There are some fantastically talented, “new” vignerons in Lodi who are not only scooping up medals and acclamations by the bucket, but who are also changing the way the entire wine world is looking at Lodi grown wines — especially Zinfandel!  We are in the midst of a transition into kinder, more elegantly scaled wines than ever, and Randy Caparoso will lead you on a tasting of that, while introducing you to four of these outstanding “kidz” leading the way:  Michael McCay of McCay Cellars; Ryan Sherman and Russ Fields of Fields Family Wines; Aaron Kidder of Kidder Family Winery; and Shaun MacKay, the winemaker of Harmony Wynelands who is venturing off into a personal project of handcrafted wines (the first one, to be called Pipedreams).


Lodi Winegrape Commission's Mark Chandler

Lodiberia – Discover the Latin Wines of Lodi (2:45-3:15 PM)

Man does not live by Zinfandel alone, even in Lodi.  Iberian wines — vinified from grapes of Spanish and/or Portuguese descent — have been hotter than a pistol during the past year, and Lodi has emerged as the California wine industry’s undisputed leader in this respect.  No one knows grapes like sexy Albariño, vivacious Verdelho, gregarious Graciano, and tempting Tempranillo like Lodi!  The Lodi Winegrape Commission‘s longtime, esteemed Executive Director, Mark Chandler, will be your guide in a whirlwind tour of these varieties, produced by stellar producers like Bokisch Vineyards, Harney Lane, and Alta Mesa¿Por qué?!

Cool, Sleek & Racy Wines of Lodi (3:30-4 PM)


Continuing the Beyond-Zinfandel theme, Ellen Landis CS, CSW will lead you through a tasting of wines guaranteed to make you sigh or sing a wanna-be-in-Lodi song.  Notice the initials after Ms. Landis’ name?  She is a Certified Sommelier, an educator certified by Society of Wine Educators, as well as the proprietor/wine director of Landis Shores in beautiful Half Moon Bay.  If anyone can tell you what sleek and racy wine is all about, Ellen can, and she means to show you!


Spring in Jessie's Grove (Carignane centurians)

Lodi Wine is Cheese Central Friendly (4:15-4:45)

Our previous post, Say Cheese (and z-zin)!, delivered the scoop on this seminar, along with a vinous thesis on exactly why and how wines and cheeses are matched (from the Lodi perspective, of course).  In this seminar Randy Caparoso will taste you on a battery of Lodi grown Zinfandels — an earth toned zin, a zestily fruited zin, a power-packed zin, and a sweet late harvest style zin — by the likes of m2, Uvaggio, LangeTwins and Van Ruiten, which will be matched with these artisanal cheeses:  France’s intense and colorful Mimolette, luscious goat’s milk Bermuda Triangle by California’s Cypress Grove, the bodaciously coffee rubbed Barely Buzzed by Utah’s Beehive Cheese Co., and Spain’s gloriously rich, blue blooded Valdeón.  Say ch-ch-cheese, indeed!

Zinfest 2011 wine label



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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