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
June 15, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

A fascinating comparison of wines representing the best of Southern France and Lodi

Visiting wine scholar Andrew Mihm blind tasting six Lodi wines with six comparable wines from Southern France.

This past Wednesday, June 9, Acquiesce Winery owner/grower/winemaker Sue Tipton pulled out a tool from her box familiar to all wine regions that have been in the process of carving out an identity recognizable to wine consumers and wine professionals all around the world: A double-blind tasting comparing three of her Lodi estate grown wines with three classic examples of wines made from the same grapes, grown and produced in France... 

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Randy Caparoso
June 7, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Stoking the June fires with kamado grills and Zinfandel

With the first week of June under our belt, it's clear to see that spring has sprung into its customarily brightest and brashest phase. I liken the season to the words of Marge Piercy whose poem More Than Enough starts out with the line,

The first lily of June opens its red mouth...

And moves on to equally lusty phraseology with

... The green will never
again be so green, so purely and lushly
new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads
into the wind. rich fresh wine 
of June, we stagger into you smeared
with pollen, overcome...

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Randy Caparoso
June 3, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Will Grenache blanc become Lodi's Chardonnay someday soon?

Grenache blanc harvest in Lodi's Acquiesce Vineyards

The misbegotten grape

Grenache blanc, the golden-green tinted clonal variation of the black-skinned Grenache noir, is the little grape that could. The best word to describe its track record, or fairly recent success, in the Lodi region just may be "unlikely." Why? Mostly because no one ever expected much out of this grape in the first place.

The high priestess of wine literature, for instance, is the U.K.'s Jancis Robinson, MW. She has described Grenache blanc as "discreetly important" in the vast wine regions of Southern France and north-eastern Spain. But the most positive thing she has said about the grape is that it is "light-berried [not exactly sure what that means since we don't use that terminology in the U.S.]... producing full-bodied, sometimes rather flabby wines which can oxidise easily, although careful winemaking can make attractively scented wines for early drinking." This, if anything, is a polite way of saying that Grenache blanc makes lousy wines..

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Randy Caparoso
June 1, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Filtering out the gobbledygook to create your own vinous memory

Visiting sommelier learning about wine in its context: glass of Lodi Zinfandel, cluster of Zinfandel, and in the vineyard where the wine and clusters are grown

The Lodi Wine way

There are no absolutes when it comes to wine. That is, the perception of the quality of any wine, plain or beautiful, cheap or expensive, rare or plentiful.

Take, for example, this Lodi Wine blog. If you've been following along, you have undoubtedly noticed that wines are never "rated" here. Instead, words are used to talk about wines and how they come about.

It's a blog about Lodi, so descriptions are couched in terms of Lodi's physical or geographical factors that have an impact on wines discussed. Regional history and people are also usually part of the discussion. But if the matter of how a wine tastes comes up, it is done without passing judgement. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether or not a wine may be for you. Don't get me wrong. I'd never recommend a wine that isn't worth your while. Life's too short for lousy wine — for me, you, anyone...

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Randy Caparoso
May 27, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi's Lange family emerges as one of California's leading specialists in Italian varietals

Dropped Nero d'Avola in LangeTwins Family's Redtail Vineyard, Lodi's Jahant AVA.

How does a fourth and fifth generation-operated Lodi grower with roots traced back to Germany end up as one of California's leading producers of premium quality Italian varietals?

It's all about the climate, says David Akiyoshi, the head co-winemaker (with Karen Birmingham) of LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards. "We've gravitated to Italian varieties because we discovered that these are the types of grapes that can ripen with maximum flavors in Lodi's Mediterranean climate," says Akiyoshi, "yet at the same time they ripen at moderate sugar levels, and across the board, they retain great natural acidity..."

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Randy Caparoso
May 20, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Unique rosés and rosé-food affinities we have known and loved

Cinsaut clusters in Lodi's venerated Bechthold Vineyard, originally planted in 1886 and still producing one of the most unique and marvelously expressive dry style rosés in the entire world

There is something about a rosé that keeps a wine lover humble. It is made from black-skinned grapes, the same types of grapes that produce red wines — the kinds of wines that make casual wine lovers go ooh and the most pretentious of connoisseurs go aah.

Yet rosé, as fine as it can be, is never an ooh-aah wine. You might sip and savor it in discreet draughts, like any fine wine, but in the end it is a wine that compels you to enjoy it without a second thought. Maybe it's the pinkish color that invites such non-intellectualizing pursuit. We drink rosés like white wines — with a good chill, or even on ice (on the hottest days) — yet even white wines often invite more serious contemplation/...

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Randy Caparoso
May 17, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

It's okay to love Chardonnay

Delectable Chardonnay clusters in Lodi's Bare Ranch, west side of Mokelumne River AVA

Sorting out the misperceptions

Please excuse the title of this post. No one who loves Chardonnay need ever apologize for harboring a hankering for this varietal, the world's best selling white wine of any sort for going on 30 years. When it comes to wine, or anything of an artistic nature (art, music, literature, fashion, even cars!), you rule your own roost. To heck with what anyone else says.

Reading about Chardonnay in books, magazines or online, however, invariably reminds you of the old adage: Don't believe everything you read.

In a surprising number of places, for instance, you read that Chardonnay is a "neutral" grape. Probably because the grape is grown all over the world and has adapted to many different types of terroirs (i.e., growing conditions strongly influencing the way grapes, and ultimately wines, turn out), and therefore appears to be something of a malleable variety. "Malleable," however, is not a synonym for "neutral..." 

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Randy Caparoso
May 13, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Hibachi salmon and all three colors of Lodi-grown Grenache perfectly fill May's sultry evening hours

Old vine Grenache, planted in 1938-1939, just entering veraison in Manassero Vineyard, Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA

The weather here in Lodi wine country is warming up. The days are long enough to enjoy the local farmers markets up until the late-evening sunsets (already past 8:00 PM!), and guess what: It's time to dust off the grills for outdoor dining!

Barbecuing, of course, doesn't have to be the usual steaks or smoked meats — or in Lodi's case, varieties of gourmet sausages from our famous, local Lockeford Meats and Sausage (where lines, which are always out the door, start to wind around the block once the barbecue season begins). The perfect, heart-healthy fish for grilling is fresh salmon...

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Randy Caparoso
May 7, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi grapevines during the merry, merry month of May

Shoot thinning of trellised Zinfandel in Phillips Farms on west side of Mokelumne River-Lodi AVA

What is happening out in Lodi vineyards today, during the merry, merry month of May? Pretty much the same as in most of California's vaunted wine regions, since vineyard growth patterns in Lodi mirror all but the most extreme regions of California (more extreme examples being the tiny pockets of ultra-cool climate zones in Santa Barbara, nosebleed ridgetops in Mendocino or Santa Cruz Mountains, or super-hot regions like Kern County).

But in moderate regions like Lodi, Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Livermore Valley, or most of San Luis Obispo County — all sharing the commonality of a coastal Mediterranean climate — shoot growth on grapevines is currently somewhere between 1 to 4-feet in length, and pushing out further at a rate of about an inch a day...

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Randy Caparoso
May 4, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Oh lord, a blog from Lodi! (revisited)

Mohr-Fry Ranches' Jerry Fry (left) in the mid-1960s with fresh-picked Flame Tokay, grown in a vineyard that has gone on to produce red wines that have garnered "Best of Class" awards in the most recent San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competitions

On August 9, 2010 we posted our very first blog on this page,, entitled Oh lord, a blog from Lodi. The following is a rewrite, which entails a few thoughts and observations accumulated over the past ten and a half years...

By now you've heard that Lodi is more than just a song (point of fact: After he wrote his famous (Stuck in) LodiCreedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty admitted he'd never visited this historic California town, but that he simply came across it and thought it had "the coolest sounding name")...

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Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
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2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
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