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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 5, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Seven basic ways to improve your wine life

Wine lovers at a past Lodi ZinFest (soon to be revived as Lodi Row X Row)

I'm no Dr. Phil, but after over 40 years of enjoying, writing about, and making a living out of wine, I know a few sensible things that can improve your life immensely. If you happen to be a wine lover. Things that are not covered (or else, not fully explained) in most books or online advisories.

Those seven basic ways:

1. Do not hold wine glasses like they do on television or in the movies.

I don't know what it is, but almost 100% of the time that glasses of wine are held by our favorite television or movie stars, they're shown holding their wine glass by the bowl rather than stem. This is bad, bad, bad, because not only does this look unsophisticated (such a downer when you really like the actor), it also results in grimy fingerprints all over the glass (especially if you're also touching food — like peanuts, garlic bread, barbecued chicken or ribs — with your hands). Ahem, why do you think wine glasses have stems? Holding glasses by the bowl rather than stem also affects the temperature of the wine — you never want to heat up a nicely chilled white wine, or even a red, with the body temperature emanating from your paws. Practice holding by the stem...

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Time Posted: Apr 5, 2021 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Seven basic ways to improve your wine life Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
March 31, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Top dry rosés, and why these popular wines are preeminently suited to Lodi's Mediterranean climate

Ancient vine and Cinsaut grapes in Lodi's historic Bechthold Vineyard, originally planted in 1886 and still producing one of the world's most iconic rosés

Everything coming up rosés

It's that time of year again. Nights are still slightly nippy, with temperatures in the mid-40°, but the days are getting progressively brighter and clearer, with late afternoons hitting the 70°s.

In Lodi wine country, this has also become the season of rosés. That is, bone-dry, soft yet refreshingly crisp pink wines. In a conversation yesterday, McCay Cellars winemaker/owner/grower Mike McCay summed it up best: "This past weekend (March 27-28, 2021), we had beautiful weather, our tasting room was filled to capacity, and we had to turn people away. It's about time! And you know what they were drinking the most? Rosé. Pink is hot right now."

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Time Posted: Mar 31, 2021 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Top dry rosés, and why these popular wines are preeminently suited to Lodi's Mediterranean climate Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
March 25, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi's Dancing Fox scales new heights with gold medal-winning Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

The Dancing Fox owner/grower/winemaker Gregg Lewis with his awarding winning Lewis Vineyards Cabernet Franc vines in Lodi's Clements Hills appellation 

The Dancing Fox, as the Lodi locals know, has been evolving right before everyone's eyes. As a restaurant and bakery, it became the go-to place for coffee, breakfast and lunch, or fresh artisanal, wood-burning oven breads, almost immediately after popping up in 2009, in a renovated, century-old building in the heart of Downtown Lodi's brick-lined School Street. From the beginning, the business has been a family affair, owned and primarily operated by Gregg and Colleen Lewis and their three sons...

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Time Posted: Mar 25, 2021 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Lodi's Dancing Fox scales new heights with gold medal-winning Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
March 22, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi's Stama Winery hits its stride with a sleek Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot

Stama Winery's home estate vineyard on the west side of Lodi's Mokelumne River appellation

Lodi's Stama Winery is not exactly "new," but it might as well be because it is just now beginning to find its niche — which it has!

The winery quietly opened the doors of its winery facility on its 10-acre "home" property nearly six years ago, in May of 2015, on N. Davis Road, just south of W. Turner Road. The stark white walls and Romansque red-barrel tiled roof of its two current structures have a strikingly Mediterranean look, and for good reason: 2021 will mark 55 years since Stama owner Konstantino "Gus" Kapiniaris first arrived in Lodi from Southern Greece — for thousands of years the cradle of Mediterranean civilization...

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Time Posted: Mar 22, 2021 at 2:00 PM Permalink to Lodi's Stama Winery hits its stride with a sleek Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
March 18, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Is Lodi a Central Valley wine region?

The natural, verdant oak savanna now planted with vineyards throughout Lodi's Clements Hills AVA — a far cry from the more arid landscapes of the southern half of California's Central Valley

Is the Lodi Viticultural Area (i.e., AVA) a Central Valley wine region? Geographically, yes, in the same way that San Francisco is a city in California, and the same for the City of Lodi.

All the same, when you say the name "Central Valley," you are usually suggesting a flat, arid, desert-like area, even if much of the Central Valley between Stockton and Bakersfield is sufficiently irrigated to support one of the world's largest agricultural regions...

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Time Posted: Mar 18, 2021 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Is Lodi a Central Valley wine region? Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
March 12, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

A look back at the dawn of Lodi's Golden Age (1970s to the early 2000s)

Steve and Beverly Borra and their family processing grapes in the mid-1970s in their Borra Vineyards, the first of Lodi's small, independent wineries in the modern era

Robert Mondavi as grape and grower whisperer

The late Robert Mondavi (1913-2008) was a Lodi Union High School graduate who will always be remembered for significant accomplishments in the wine industry. First, he convinced his father, Cesare Mondavi, a City of Lodi businessman who entered the grape industry during the early 1920s as a grape packer, to buy Napa Valley's then-inactive Charles Krug Winery in 1943. Robert and his brother Peter Mondavi (1914-2016) operated Charles Krug until their famous falling out, which led to the founding of the groundbreaking Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966...

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Time Posted: Mar 12, 2021 at 9:00 AM Permalink to A look back at the dawn of Lodi's Golden Age (1970s to the early 2000s) Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
March 9, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

How Barry Gnekow utilizes technology to do his winemaking magic, and in the process is redefining terroir

Consulting winemaker Barry Gnekow monitoring progress of grapes undergoing the pre-fermentation thermovinification process called flash-détente, at the top of the must heater at Lodi Vintners

Desperate times call for flash-détente

Before our meeting last week to discuss the latest winemaking technology utilized at Lodi's Lodi Vintners — where brands such as Klinker Brick, Concrete Wine and Rippey Family are produced — Barry Gnekow sent a note saying, "Don't expect romantic scenes of rolling hills of vineyards with family dogs and progeny strolling around tasting out of barrels."

I hadn't. Especially since Mr. Gnekow's labors as a consulting winemaker has long remained one of the California wine industry's biggest secrets: His is the technical mind behind the humongous success of wineries like Lodi's Michael David and Klinker Brick, and even before that, for brands such as J. Lohr and Hahn Estate...

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Time Posted: Mar 9, 2021 at 11:00 AM Permalink to How Barry Gnekow utilizes technology to do his winemaking magic, and in the process is redefining terroir Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
March 5, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

The use of varietal as a term, its history and passing practicality

Smiling Zinfandel grape grown in Lodi's Lot 13 Vineyard, planted in 1915, prior to Prohibition

What's In a (Varietal) Name?

The term varietal, as the long departed wine scribe Robert Lawrence Balzer wrote way back in 1948 in his book California's Best Wines, is actually "an early California idea." Balzer defined it, simply, as the way of "naming wines after the grape species used in their making," as opposed to the use of "generic titles... such as Claret, Burgundy, Sauternes, Hock, Moselle, etc." that were much more prevalent in Balzer's early days (Balzer authored 11 wine books and syndicated wine columns published in newspapers like Los Angeles Times all the way up to the early 1980s)...

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Time Posted: Mar 5, 2021 at 8:00 AM Permalink to The use of varietal as a term, its history and passing practicality Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
February 25, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

All about terroir

Late winter pruning of old vine Zinfandel in Clements Hills-Lodi's Stampede Vineyard (image courtesy of Gabrielle Lurie Photography)

A lot of things have been said and written about the wine term, terroir. Not all of it good. 

Just a few years ago a U.C. Davis Professor of Viticulture published a book called Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing (University of California Press). In the book the professor stated outright that terroir is a crock essentially because “minerals derived from rocks may represent a relatively small part of the soil’s impact on plants,” and “mineral nutrients have no established contribution to flavor” in wines. Because of that, he concludes, terroir is nothing more than a “shibboleth that establishes an in-group in a world unto itself... This isn’t wine appreciation… it is more like wine snobbery.”

These conceptions of the term, however, are actually gross misinterpretations of what the French actually mean when they use it. The plainest definitions of terroir are probably the best because the word is far less convoluted than assumed. In a Food & Wine magazine interview published in January 2018, the famous Berkeley-based wine importer Kermit Lynch may have given the best explanation...

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Time Posted: Feb 25, 2021 at 8:00 AM Permalink to All about terroir Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
February 22, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Why consumers never needed experts to tell them what they like (like Elvis and Zinfandel)

What does Zinfandel and Elvis have in common (read on!)

Why are some wines far more popular than others?

The other day on a social media post I saw this question posed on my shared thread: Why isn't Port very popular in the U.S.?

First, this is the current Wikipedia definition of Port: "Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine [i.e., bolstered by the addition of brandy, raising alcohol levels to 19%-20%] produced in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal. It is typically a sweet red wine, often served as a dessert wine, although it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties."

Back to the social media question: The obvious answer for why Port is not very popular with consumers, at for least the vast majority of consumers, is that most people just don't like drinking wines that are... 

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Time Posted: Feb 22, 2021 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Why consumers never needed experts to tell them what they like (like Elvis and Zinfandel) Permalink
Contact

Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
209.365.0621
Open: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
209.367.4727
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