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
August 30, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Just picked: one of Lodi’s top Zinfandel vineyards and last of Bechthold Cinsaut

“I was on fire when I woke up this morning,” says Jillian Johnson, the owner/winemaker of Onesta Wines.  On Friday, August 30, Ms. Johnson was the last of the slate of stellar winemakers to pick Cinsaut grapes from Bechthold Vineyard, the Lodi AVA‘s oldest vineyard (originally planted by Joseph Spenker in 1886).  “I’m always stoked the day I pick Bechthold,” says Johnson.  “Year in and year out, this vineyard performs no matter what, giving us beautiful, balanced fruit.  It was a great day when Mother Nature first gave us Bechthold.”  Johnson, in fact, has been working with Bechthold  longer than any of the winemakers currently sourcing from this venerated growth (since 2004, when she was the winemaker for Bonny Doon Vineyard)

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Randy Caparoso
August 23, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

2013 harvest continues (Kerner, Albariño, and Cinsaut from Lodi’s oldest vineyard)

Yesterday (August 21, 2013) Borra Vineyards picked their Kerner grapes, which are grown by Brett Koth at his family’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyards, tucked into the tip of the Mokelumne River’s “Peninsula” (where the river bends into an upside-down u-shape, on the east side of the Mokelumne River AVA).  The Lodi AVA‘s Mokelumne Glen, for the record, cultivates the most extensive collection of German and Austrian grapes (over 40 varieties, whites and reds) on the entire West Coast.

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Randy Caparoso
August 15, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

How to taste wine, and separate cinnamon from clove, women from the men, etc.

Wine tasting, as most people would tell you, can be difficult (please see Wine 101:  tasting and talking).  But here’s one thing most wine experts agree on:  women make better wine tasters than men.

A lot of it is cultural:  more women than men, to begin with, cook meals in kitchens, and being able to distinguish smells – which in foods and wines are what constitute “flavor” – is key to being able to cook well.  Many men, of course, also cook well (needless to say, most restaurant chefs are males).  Thus, many men taste wine just as well as women.

However, there is one thing about most men that can’t be helped:  they tend to be, well, like “men.”  That is, macho.  There is a famous American importer of French wines named Kermit Lynch who first openly discussed the “excess baggage” of men’s macho-ness.  In an October 1999 issue of Food & Wine Lynch was quoted to say, “Men seem to believe that they are wine experts just because they are men.  When they stick their nose into a glass of wine they think it would be unmanly to say something wrong or stupid.  So they get uptight.  It is difficult to taste properly when you are uptight…

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Randy Caparoso
August 12, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

LangeTwins kicks off 2013 harvest with picking of Sauvignon Musqué

Last week Friday and Saturday (August 9-10), LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards kicked off their 2013 harvest in Lodi by picking their 50-acre Jahant Rd. vineyard planted to Sauvignon Musqué – a clonal variant of Sauvignon Blanc that produces more flowery, less herbaceous white wines than other varieties of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Randy Caparoso
August 7, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Michael David picks 2013 Chardonnay (early spring leads to one of Lodi’s earliest harvests)

This past Monday, August 5 Lodi’s Phillips Farms (the agricultural arm of Michael David Winery) began its second week of harvest 2013 with a picking of Chardonnay at their Bare Ranch property on Woodbridge Rd.  “In my lifetime,” says Kevin Phillips, the Phillips family’s VP of Operations and vineyard manager, “2013 is only the second time we ever started picking in July… the first time was in 2003.”

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Randy Caparoso
August 1, 2013 | Randy Caparoso

Having a “Dream” International Albarino Day (August 3)

TAPAS – the Tempranillo Advocates Producers & Amigos Society – has announced that this Saturday, August 3, 2013 will be the second International Albariño Day, during which wine lovers around the world are encouraged to show a bottle of Albariño some love, while sharing the experience via Twitter with the hashtag #AlbarinoFiesta .

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