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.
Let your turkey guide your wine choices, and one Lodi family’s Thanksgiving menu and secret family recipe for potato rolls…
The turkey is one of our greatest comfort foods. When we were kids we simply traced our fingers to draw them. It has also remained as all-American a culinary delicacy as any: as ubiquitous as it may seem to us, it’s never caught on in other countries, even in Europe (because they used to confuse native Americans with Indians from India, the French still call it coq d’Inde, the “cock of India” – how twisted is that?).Continue »
Russ and Melinda Fields (and their three kids) and their partner/winemakers at Lodi’s Fields Family Wines, Ryan and Jalynn Sherman (with their two kids), celebrate Thanksgiving in the usual tradition. But the during the weekend after, according to Ryan, the families and their friends get together to commence their “post-holiday throw-down.”
The Fields and Sherman families share a passion for cooking, which goes hand in hand with the passion for grapegrowing and winemaking they have shared since their first meeting of like minds in 2004.
According to Ryan, “Russ has an extremely extensive garden with too many things to even count, along with a chicken coop (another understatement – I call it the Chicken Four Seasons). He normally whips up several items from the vegetable garden, and I make a killer braised beef short ribs in Lodi zin (ours, of course) with a rich side of mashed potatoes.”Continue »
Who doesn’t love a great sweet wine? Your Aunt Gladys and Uncle Boyd, your brother the wine geek, your sister the foodie, mom who loves everything and dad who always proclaims “I know what I like” but still can never remember what he had last week: they all love the wines winemakers probably work the hardest on which, incidentally, always taste great with dessert.Continue »
The goods: A compelling array of orange blossom, rose petal, tropical flowers (jasmine and frangipani) and honeysuckle perfumes tease the nose; and then totally deliver on the palate: feathery light(10.3% alcohol) and modestly sweet (4.8% residual sugar) sensations, with the airy crispness of lemon cookies and a tingly touch of effervescence (what the Italians would call frizzante).
Price & provenance: $12; grown primarily in Lodi from grapes of Muscat Canelli (46%), Muscat Orange (46%) and Gewürztraminer (8%)Continue »
Have you heard about one of Lodi’s newer “boutique” wineries: Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi?
We kid you not, since April Fool’s is in April, not November. If you’re planning to cover the Lodi winefront during THE FIRST SIP weekend this coming November 13-14, it might be a good idea to set aside a few minutes to visit the giant Woodbridge winery (yes, it’s built to process a quarter of what Lodi grows, and over 8 million cases of wine each year) and taste their lineup of boutique style wines (no more than 200 cases of each) made from decidedly cutting-edge grapes like Vermentino, Verdelho, Malvasia and Marsanne.Continue »
“Gala” doesn’t quite describe Artisan Masters’ Lodi Wine & Art Auction that took place in Lodi’s Hutchins Street Square this past Saturday (10/23). How about, say, an extra-sensory, fantastical, phantasmagoric vinous adventure? The eye opening spices and vividly flavorful barrels of ’09 and 2010 Zinfandels presented by twenty of Lodi’s top wineries certainly made many of our tongues skip such a light fandango.
Or, culinary tours de force? “Culinary,” of course, in respect to wines, great food and people coming together to celebrate how far along Lodi wine has come: to a point where we can pinpoint individual sub-regions and vineyard sites, each elucidating terroir related delineations of that most American of American grown grapes – Zinfandel.Continue »
While taking a taco truck break with his pickers last week (first week of October) at Egger Vineyard, a stand of 20 year old head trained Zinfandel vines on the north side of Peltier Rd., Jonathan Wetmore ventured an opinion: “All the wineries have been happy so far with the quality of the 2010 harvest.” This, you must know, is somewhat of an understatement, considering the joyous whooping and hollering we’ve actually been hearing among those in Lodi’s oenological profession.
Then again, Wetmore is first and foremost a farmer — his Round Valley Ranches owns or manages over 2,000 acres in Lodi (including the high profile Jessie’s Grove estate) — and farmers always act like they come from Missouri, the Show-Me State. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, right?… fat ladies singing and all? In the meantime, let the winemakers whistle while they work, high on their yearly fermenting Kool-Aid.
Mr. Wetmore, though, also takes an itty-bitty fraction of those grapes he farms and produces wine under the Grands Amis Winery label with his wife/business partner, Catherine Wetmore, and so he is capable of a little of that winemaker enthusiasm. Okay, maybe just by the teaspoon; because, he tells us, “it’s been one of the toughest years I’ve ever experienced… we’re not used to harvesting so late...”Continue »
September 23, 2010 Lodi Harvest Report Over the past two weeks the night harvesters in Lodi have been busy while you've lain in bed dreaming. White wine grapes have pretty much come off the vine; and at this date, red wine grapes from the warmer sites (generally on Lodi's eastern side) have started to trickle in, although most of the latter will probably be picked between now and the first week of October. You may have heard of the challenging conditions on California's North Coast; sluggishly ripening grapes beset by cold weather, followed by alarming late August temperature spikes of.Continue »
One of Lodi's singularly most original, and quite possibly most significant (if you dream in Italian) white wines today may be the one made from the Vermentino grape by Jim Moore, owner/winemaker of Italian inspired wines under the Uvaggio label. "Vermentino," says Moore, "is the thinking man's Pinot Grigio." Like Pinot Grigio, it tends to be light, dry and breezy; lemony tart without being puckery. Where Vermentino veers off – as in the 2009 Uvaggio Lodi Vermentino ($13-$14 retail) – is in its multifaceted nose: lavender, thyme and lime blossom fragrances, with undertones of cantaloupe and nuances of wild honey...Continue »
LODI TERROIR — A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME… Attention shoppers, wine geeks, or anyone who just wants to know more about what the heck they like in a wine (why should geeks have all fun?): at the upcoming Lodi Wine & Art Auction eighteen wineries will present, for your sensory and intellectual pleasure, over twenty barrels of 2008 or 2009 Zinfandels representing single vineyards, as well as the influences of growing conditions associated with the seven official sub-appellations (i.e. AVAs) of Lodi. You, too, can experience the sense of terroir that growers in this historic region – many of...Continue »