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
June 27, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Delicious winemaker obsessions over “odd” grapes and blends

Torrontes 2, Silvaspoons 090411_2

Silvaspoons Vineyards Torrontes, Sept. 2011

An heirloom vine grows in Lodi

What is it with winemakers and their “odd” varieties and blends?  Well, as Robert Mondavi always used to say, winemaking is as much an art as it is a science; and if there’s even a speck of truth to that statement, we have to expect something coming out of left field from some of our more artistic winemakers every once in a while.

Sometimes they produce a wine that is as outlandishly good as it is unusual, and it ends up getting picked out of over a thousand other white wines for an honor like “Best of Show White” in a big-time event like the California State Fair; which is the story of the 2011 Kenneth Volk Silvaspoons Vineyards Alta Mesa Torrontés ($24), grown right here in Lodi by Ron Silva...

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Time Posted: Jun 27, 2012 at 9:30 PM Permalink to Delicious winemaker obsessions over “odd” grapes and blends Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 25, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Mohr-Fry’s celebrated Alicante Bouschet may soon be kicking up daisies, not gold medals

Alicante 2, Mohr-Fry 083111

Mohr-Fry grown Alicante Bouschet grapes

One of the Lodi AVA’s most venerated plantings – Mohr-Fry Ranches’ twelve and a half acres of Alicante Bouschet, which originally went into the ground in 1921 – may not be long for this world, which would be a tragic turn of events...

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Time Posted: Jun 25, 2012 at 9:37 PM Permalink to Mohr-Fry’s celebrated Alicante Bouschet may soon be kicking up daisies, not gold medals Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 22, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi’s best-of-the-best wines at the 2012 California State Fair


Ron Silva's Lodi grown Torrontes named "best" of all white wines at California State Fair

Lodi grown wines garnered their share California State Fair awards, announced earlier this week.  That’s impressive, considering that there were 2,890 wines, made by 688 wineries, submitted for sober adjudication by 72 distinguished wine judges.

2,156 of these wines earned medals; but more importantly, a handful of  Lodi grown wines that garnered top top honors at the State Fair.  Especially this one – grown by Lodi’s Portuguese grape king, Ron Silva, up there in Galt – which was named best white wine period (“better” than over a 1,000 other white wines, of every type and in every category, entered into the State Fair) by the persnickety judges...

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Time Posted: Jun 22, 2012 at 9:45 PM Permalink to Lodi’s best-of-the-best wines at the 2012 California State Fair Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 18, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

The soul of a winegrower in Lodi’s Twisted Roots


The Schmiedt family's Dairy Vineyard Zinfandel, planted in 1918

When Ross Schmiedt talks about wine quality, family and sustainability – something he does all the time, with inspiring ebullience, even from the confines of his wheelchair (in recent years Mr. Schmiedt has been impaired by ALS) – you quickly realize that in his mind, all three things are one and the same...

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Time Posted: Jun 18, 2012 at 9:51 PM Permalink to The soul of a winegrower in Lodi’s Twisted Roots Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 13, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Going mad about saffron & Iberian grapes at the TAPAS Grand Tasting


Bokisch Vineyards' Concetta Zoria Wilkens pours for the TAPAS crowd

46 wineries and growers presented cutting-edge wines made from grapes of Spanish or Portuguese origin at the 5th annual TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers & Amigos Society) Grand Wine Tasting in San Francisco’s Fort Mason this past Saturday, June 9.

Yet one could argue that the biggest hit at this year’s TAPAS showcase was not a wine or winemaker, but a dish:  the sumptuous, golden paella made by Lodi’s own Addy’s Paella, which has to be tasted to be believed:  saffron infused rice (utilizing authentic arroz from Spain), shrimp, chicken, Lockeford sausage, and the most pungent, garlicky aioli made west of Madrid...

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Time Posted: Jun 13, 2012 at 9:57 PM Permalink to Going mad about saffron & Iberian grapes at the TAPAS Grand Tasting Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 11, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Forlorn Hope’s pure style of Torrontés & Alvarelhão


Forlorn Hope winemaker/proprietor Matthew Rorick

While Lodi is known for its wine grape productivity – as such, the largest single American Viticultural Area in the U.S. – it has also become known as a source of many a cutting-edge grape.  You name it, at least some of it is grown here:  from Alicante Bouschet, Bastardo and Carmine, to Trincadeira, Vermentino, Zweigelt, and some 70 other odd varieties in between.

Many of the gigantic wineries, like E. & J. Gallo and Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, utilize lesser known varieties in their blending programs.  On the opposite end of the scale are the micro-sized producers who actually produce varietal wines from underappreciated grapes...

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Time Posted: Jun 11, 2012 at 10:06 PM Permalink to Forlorn Hope’s pure style of Torrontés & Alvarelhão Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 7, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

TAPAS & Albariño, for all the right (culinary) reasons

Albarino, Bokisch 083111

Albarino from Bokisch's Terra Alta Vineyard

The gastronomic grape

Do you enjoy alternative style wines veering off from the usual heavy handed, ripe or oaky style typical of “California” wine?  Then  you should seriously consider attending the Grand Wine Tasting sponsored by TAPAS – that is, the Tempranillo Advocates Producers & Amigos Society – this coming Saturday, June 19, 2012 in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center; and where, needless to say, a number of Lodi’s top producers will be pouring.

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Time Posted: Jun 7, 2012 at 10:13 PM Permalink to TAPAS & Albariño, for all the right (culinary) reasons Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 5, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Phenomenal 2010 Zinfandels, current & upcoming

Zin Picker (Mencarini)

Lodi Zinfandel picker, harvest 2010

Since fall of 2010, Lodi’s leading Zinfandel specialists have been saying that 2010 is the best vintage in recent memory.  Now that a few of these wines are out in the market, it’s time to ask the hard question:  is 2010 truly a “vintage year” for Lodi Zinfandel, or are some people just blowing smoke?

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Time Posted: Jun 5, 2012 at 10:20 PM Permalink to Phenomenal 2010 Zinfandels, current & upcoming Permalink

Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
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Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
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