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.
The re-opening of Acquiesce Winery’s tasting room – which usually happens after about four months of a “winter slumber” – has become something of a yearly rite of spring for many a Lodi wine lover. Owners Sue and Rodney Tipton welcomed the first of their 2019 visitors and loyal club members just this past weekend (March 15-17).
Close followers of Acquiesce wines are very well aware of why the winery needs to shut down for a third of each year: because the wines – representing a fairly small production, 100% grown and produced in the Tiptons’ own home vineyard – are virtually sold out by November of each year! That’s what success will do for you...Continue »
In the 1850s and 1860s, when pioneering growers first began planting wine grapes in Sonoma County, Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountain area, Amador County and, of course, the Lodi Viticultural Area, they planted their vines as free-standing plants – with no trellis wires, just one supportive stake per vine – in a fashion known as "gobelet."
Gobelet literally translates as “goblet,” in reference to the virtual shape of the vine: classically, a trunk topped at no more than a foot or two from the ground, crowned by eight (give or take) “spurs,” which are shortened canes kept as permanent arms positioned around the top (i.e. “head”) of the trunk. In this style of cultivation – said to date back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans yet still commonly practiced throughout Southern France and Spain – most of each year’s growth is pruned back during winter months, leaving buds or nodes at the top of each spur for the growth of typically two new canes in early spring...Continue »
Okay, so it’s still a little gray out there, and the ground has not yet completely dried up from the winter rains (but hey, water!), on the first day of spring – or the vernal equinox (as of Wednesday, March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere), when day and night are just about equal in length – here in Lodi wine country.
But if you look closely, buds are just beginning to break out in the fields and vines, and in our annual bushes and trees. That means something, doesn’t it? It’s a yearly reconfirmation of life, just when we thought winter would never end (or rather, as it’s often seemed in recent years, just when we were wondering if we somehow overslept and missed “winter” completely)...Continue »
Mike Dunne is one of those newspapermen whose unimpeachable creds as a published wine pundit were established roughly in the Stone Age. That is, when The Rolling Stones were still considered a voice of “youth” (who knows what you should call them now).
Mr. Dunne officially “retired” from The Sacramento Bee in 2008 after working for this flagship McClatchy daily as a food editor, restaurant critic and wine columnist for some 30 years. But like the Stones, he just never goes away. Instead, he continues to regularly file his impeccably composed “Dunne on Wine” columns at the Bee, covering every conceivable wine region from Washington and Oregon to Chile and Australia, every nook and cranny of California and much of the “old country” in Europe as well. His interests, and therefore insights and erudite commentary, are decidedly global. Plus, as a professional wine judge, Mr. Dunne’s services are in demand up and down the West Coast, and beyond (for a short time, Dunne also served as head judge for the venerable California State Fair)...Continue »
There are plenty of American wineries founded with the intention of specializing in one grape, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir or Zinfandel. There is a much smaller handful hanging their hats on grapes like Tempranillo, Syrah, Mourvèdre or Grenache. But Petite Sirah? That may take some guts.Continue »
Lodi is known for its heritage Zinfandel and, increasingly, its huge diversity of grapes and wines (over 100 commercially grown varieties, by recent count). Where else in California can you say, for instance, you can find more brands of Albariño and Tempranillo than Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon?
You can also think of the Lodi Viticultural Area’s place in the American wine grape industry in the same way you think of Salinas Valley, which is often called the nation’s “salad bowl.” Salinas Valley doesn’t grow all of the country’s lettuce, spinach and broccoli, but it easily grows more of that than any other single agricultural region...Continue »