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 28, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

When weather gets hot, Lodi's exciting new whites get going

Lodi sunset in the Bokisch family's Terra Alta Vineyard

It’s not quite July; yet summer, evidently, is already in full swing, at least in The Golden State.

If you’re near a beach, life can be a peach. If you have a pool, then you’re just way cool. But if you have neither, and are relegated to life on a patio, under a shady tree or waiting for nightfall, the last thing you obviously feel like when the weather gets too-darn-hot are heavy foods and drinks.

Summer wines are ideally white not only because of their chill-ability, but also because red wines are by nature heavier because of their tannin, the component that gives wines a harder, slightly bitter, sometimes astringent taste. It’s just chemistry: red wines are fermented on their skins to extract color and tannin; whereas white wines are typically made from grapes that are pressed and separated from their skins prior to fermentation.

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Randy Caparoso
June 23, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

What happens when a Pinot Noir specialist crafts ancient vine Lodi Zinfandel?

Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel, two weeks before 2014 harvest

What happens when a Pinot Noir specialist gets ahold of Zinfandel from a primo ancient vine planting in Lodi? Basically two things:

 A very delicate, silky, perfumed, and yes, Pinot Noir-like Zinfandel – a virtual opposite of the big, blustery, jammy style of red wine more closely identified with the “varietal.”

 A Zinfandel that is more focused on characteristics of its vineyard source rather than commercial or critical expectations of varietal character.

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Randy Caparoso
June 15, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

The 2013 Lucas ZinStar reflects a stubborn legacy of single-vineyard finesse winemaking

The Lucas family's iconic 83-year old ZinStar Vineyard

There is a new “boss” in town at The Lucas Winery on Lodi’s west side: Mitra Lucas, who has just recently taken over winery management; although she prefers to refer to herself simply as “Owner & Daughter.”

“She may fire me yet,” said David Lucas this past weekend, with the familiar puckish glint in his eyes. Mr. Lucas founded his eponymous winery and vineyard estate in 1978, making it the second oldest boutique scale operation in the Lodi Viticultural Area.

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Randy Caparoso
June 13, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi grown wines shine at 2016 Barbera Festival

Barbera in Lodi's Leventini Vineyard, planted in 1972

Long known as one of the world’s greatest “food wines” because of its higher than average acidity – think of what vinegar does for oil, how lime makes a ceviche, or how a simple squeeze of lemon on a fish or even a slice of beef immensely improves a dish – the black skinned Barbera grape has also recently emerged as one of California’s favorite varietal reds, period.

Witness the 2,000 or so Barbera lovers who descended upon the sleepy town of Plymouth in California's Amador County this past Saturday (June 11, 2016) for the 6th annual Barbera Festival. That’s a lot of people, coming from all over just to enjoy just one, single type of wine.

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Randy Caparoso
June 8, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Holman's Uncharted Bacchus goes where few wines dare to go

One of the brands used by Holman Cellars, a micro-winery based in Napa Valley, is called Uncharted – an apt description of the Lodi grown white wine presented by owner/winemaker Jason Holman at a winemakers’ lunch and tasting in Mokelumne Glen Vineyards this past Saturday (June 4, 2016).

The wine in question: the 2015 Uncharted (by Holman Cellars) Mokelumne Glen Vineyard Lodi Bacchus ($25); a crisp, bone dry, buoyant and fluid medium bodied white wine with beautiful perfumes and sensuous, lingering flavors suggesting the pungent oils of sweet thyme and lavender rubbed between the fingers, the stringy flesh of apricot pulled off a pit, and ribbons of skin peeled from a baking apple.

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Randy Caparoso
June 3, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Oak Farm's 2015 Chardonnay takes giant step towards purer "Lodi" expression

Oak Farm Vineyards' winery and tasting room on Lodi's west side

At first sniff and sip, the 2015 Oak Farm Vineyards Lodi Chardonnay ($25) tastes like many other well made Chardonnays with its airy sense of freshness and the creamy smoothness of its modestly full, seamless, silken textured body.

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Randy Caparoso
June 1, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Tiny PRIE's latest wines express true Lodi soul

Lisa and John Gash under one of the spreading old trees in their east side Lodi estate

The advantages of a micro-sized – that is, an artisanal or “boutique” – winery can also be disadvantages. It’s good to be small because you can lavish far more attention on 2 to 6 barrels of a wine than you can on 2000 to 6000 barrels; which is the difference between a winery like PRIE Vineyards in Lodi and, for example, an E. & J. Gallo in Modesto or Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville.

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2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
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