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
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
Randy Caparoso
February 16, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

A Lodi based sheep company begins work on sustainable vineyard farming

Rambouillet (unshorn) and Dorper (dark patched) sheep grazing among 75-year-old Zinfandel vines in Lodi's Schulenburg Vineyard, under the watchful eye of F Ewe Sheep Company owner Frankie Arburua III

"This holiday [Presidents' Day] weekend has been super-busy!" proclaimed Frankie Arburua III, the sole proprietor of Lodi's F Ewe Sheep Company. Arburua is far from the first sheep rancher in Lodi, but he is the first that has also been established for this additional, specific purpose: to supply a natural, and sustainable, way of farming vineyards — something that the Lodi Viticultural Area has in far greater number in sheer acreage than any other wine region in California, or the entire U.S for that matter...

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Time Posted: Feb 16, 2021 at 2:00 PM Permalink to A Lodi based sheep company begins work on sustainable vineyard farming Permalink
Randy Caparoso
February 11, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

Silicon Valley Bank's 2021 State of the U.S. Wine Industry report focuses on immediate and unimaginable challenges

Michael Klouda Wines owner/winemaker Mike Klouda walking among ancient and trellised vines during harvest on the east side of Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA

In Silicon Valley Bank's yearly State of the U.S. Wine Industry report released last month (January 2021), the focus was on, naturally, the "unimaginable challenges" of 2020.

Silicon Valley Bank has served as one of the major lenders to the grape and wine industry over the past quarter-century (its website cites over $4 billion in loans), and its yearly report is meticulously assembled each year by Rob McMillan, Executive Vice President and Founder of the SVB Wine Division.

Writes McMillan, "2020 will go down as the year in which we answered the heretofore rhetorical question, what else can go wrong?" At the same time, says McMillan, "we can also admire the year for the way the wine industry — known for its glacial adaptation to change — took on the obstacles of a worldwide pandemic head-on and found new approaches to sell... 

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Time Posted: Feb 11, 2021 at 1:30 PM Permalink to Silicon Valley Bank's 2021 State of the U.S. Wine Industry report focuses on immediate and unimaginable challenges Permalink
Randy Caparoso
February 9, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

The dangers of COVID-19 to serious wine lovers

Lodi winemakers Markus Niggli (left) and Layne Montgomery, tasting wine back in the "good ol' days" before masks were required for social gatherings

In one of the most recent issues of The New York Times Magazine (January 31, 2021), there is a fascinating article entitled "The Forgotten Sense."

The story addresses one of the most alarming symptoms of those afflicted by COVID-19: the sudden loss of smell.

Loss of smell, of course, is as common as, well, the common cold. When your nose gets stuffy or inflamed, you often lose your sense of smell for a few hours or days. This is more or less a momentary nuisance...

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Time Posted: Feb 9, 2021 at 2:00 PM Permalink to The dangers of COVID-19 to serious wine lovers Permalink
Randy Caparoso
February 4, 2021 | Randy Caparoso

In 2021, what's a wine brand to do to stay ahead?

Bokisch's Terra Alta Vineyard (Clements Hills-Lodi) in February light

"What's a wine brand to do?" is the question posed by Australia's CommsClass in a recent post entitled Top Wine Marketing Trends In 2021." CommsClass is a Melbourne-based marketing blog specializing in wine, food, tourism and hospitality.

As in the U.S., the Australian wine industry has recently turned to brand, marketing, digital and social media marketing to make up for sales lost over the past year due to the global pandemic. Also like in the U.S., in Australia this has meant that many old-time winery and vineyard owners who once barely found the need to open up a laptop and do email, let alone open social media apps or host webinars, have had to learn whole new ways of communicating. Like toddlers, stumbling out of the block as they learn to walk...

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Time Posted: Feb 4, 2021 at 12:00 PM Permalink to In 2021, what's a wine brand to do to stay ahead? Permalink

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