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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
 
November 4, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Woodbridge, we hardly knew ye…

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.

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Time Posted: Nov 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM Permalink to Woodbridge, we hardly knew ye… Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
October 27, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi terroir unleashed at zintastic Lodi Wine & Art Auction

“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.

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Time Posted: Oct 27, 2010 at 6:23 PM Permalink to Lodi terroir unleashed at zintastic Lodi Wine & Art Auction Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
October 14, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

The late and wild 2010 Lodi harvest

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...”

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Time Posted: Oct 14, 2010 at 6:06 PM Permalink to The late and wild 2010 Lodi harvest Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
September 23, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Will 2010 be Lodi’s best vintage ever?

2010 Lodi harvest (photo by Diego Olagary)

2010 Lodi harvest (photo by Diego Olagary)

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.

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Randy Caparoso
 
September 20, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Jim Moore walks the Lodi walk

Uvaggio Lodi Moscato Dolce

Uvaggio Lodi Moscato Dolce

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...

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Time Posted: Sep 20, 2010 at 2:08 PM Permalink to Jim Moore walks the Lodi walk Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
September 17, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Terroir unleashed at Lodi Art Auction

Artisan Auction

Artisan Auction

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...

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Time Posted: Sep 17, 2010 at 2:19 PM Permalink to Terroir unleashed at Lodi Art Auction Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
September 17, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

American pie: the Lodi Grape Festival

Lodi Grape Festival

Lodi Grape Festival

Celebrate the 2010 harvest with us at the Lodi Grape Festival… September 16-19 – When was the last time you've savored true Americana? The annual four-day Lodi Grape Festival has been serving up sky-high slices of it, with sides of Tokay and glasses of teeth staining Zinfandel, continuously since 1934. The first grapefest was a celebration of the previous year's repeal of Prohibition and (since unions were not in fashion then) the quelling of a labor strike during the harvest of '33. Long gone are the mustachioed honorary peace officers, the beauty queen pageantry and grand parades; but still going...

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Time Posted: Sep 17, 2010 at 2:00 PM Permalink to American pie: the Lodi Grape Festival Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
September 12, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Van Ruiten recipe for world class zin

In 2009 Hugh Johnson, the internationally esteemed British author of The World Atlas of Wine, was asked by the Wall St. Journal Wine Club to head up a panel of other distinguished judges to select the 12 best wines of the world. Among the 12 chosen by Johnson's panel was the 2007 Van Ruiten Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel. Since it was the only Zinfandel among the final selection, that essentially meant it was their "best Zinfandel in the world." A fluke? A case of perfect celestial alignment? Hmmm. Meanwhile, back at the ranch: this very same Zinfandel came away with...

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Time Posted: Sep 12, 2010 at 3:02 PM Permalink to Van Ruiten recipe for world class zin Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
September 12, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Taste Lodi: Van Ruiten Zinfandel

2008 VAN RUITEN FAMILY, LODI OLD VINE ZINFANDEL The taste of an ultimate zin: Begins with a sweet toned, harmoniously composed nose of aromas suggesting blueberry jam, blackberry syrup and vanilla pods, with nary an overripe or raisiny note. On the palate, the luscious, vibrant fruit qualities are couched in a moderately full, giving body — mouth-filling without being hard or stiff — and filled to the brim with slightly smoky, dark roasting coffee bean-like spices. Keebler elf-like meticulousness: Hand picked from the family's oldest, finest, head-trained, own rooted vines, now approaching their 6oth year. These "bush" vines have matured...

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Time Posted: Sep 12, 2010 at 2:08 PM Permalink to Taste Lodi: Van Ruiten Zinfandel Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
August 28, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

The world according to the Bokischs

Markus and Liz Bokisch, who own Bokisch Vineyards in Lodi, have recently been turning the wine world on its head.

You've probably heard, for instance, winemakers sanctimoniously talk about how they pick grapes "by flavor, not numbers." How they all wait for "physiological ripeness" before harvesting. As if, of course, they would be waiting for "physiological unripeness" before sending out their harried crews. Well, Markus has been following along with that for most of the past eight, nine years, while still making the best damned white wines from the native Spanish Albariño grape in California (of course, there's only three, four other wineries in California producing Albariño, but so what — Markus makes the best!).
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Time Posted: Aug 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM Permalink to The world according to the Bokischs Permalink
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Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
209.365.0621
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209.367.4727
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