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.

October 31, 2017 |

Scary vineyard inspires Klinker Brick's Old Ghost

Klinker Brick's Old Ghost is born from a tale worthy of Halloween.


On a dark, foggy morning long ago

In a place few would dare to go

There stood a grower in the eerie light

Gazing at a frightful sight

Gnarled vines cast shadows in the mist

Causing the grower to wonder, what is this?

As the sun rose, it became all too clear

The grower had nothing to fear

The shadows cast were old and true

Zinfandel clusters showing flecks of blue

The gnarled vines would soon bring cheer

For their fruit went into bottles loved far and near

No one could have known on that dark, foggy morn

A beautiful wine would be born

So, what to name this wine crafted from its spooky host?

But simply and aptly ... the Old Ghost

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Randy Caparoso
October 26, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Why Zinfandel tastes great with peppery foods like chili spaghetti

Contemplation in Lodi's The Lucas Winery's classic ZinStar Vineyard

Why are we fond of saying that Zinfandel is like “autumn in a glass?” Sure, it’s part of the “romance” of wine language; but there is also a scientific reason – one that has repercussions on the aromas and flavors we perceive in typical Zinfandels, and one that has an impact on the foods that always seem to taste best with Zinfandels.

The reason is called rotundone: a physical compound found in wine varieties such as Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache that contributes noticeable spice qualities similar to the experience of cracked peppercorns. We devote quite a bit of thought to this subject in a previous post, called Ah, the smell of spice (that is, rotundone) in autumn wines...

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Randy Caparoso
October 24, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Chef Tony Lawrence's magically Zin-friendly Chocolate Salad

Chef Tony Lawrence enjoying Lodi's annual ZinFest

Can you imagine a perfectly delicious, healthy salad that is also a perfect match for Lodi’s lush, sumptuous, gentle styles of Zinfandel?

For the past 11 years, Philadelphia’s Tony Lawrence, the “Global Wine Chef” of “A Chef For You,” has been demonstrating his incredibly Zin-friendly Chocolate Salad at either the yearly ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) events in San Francisco or at the Lodi ZinFest taking place during May of each year in Lodi Lake Park...

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Randy Caparoso
October 19, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Autumn is the season for Lodi Zinfandel and its favorite food matches

Fall colors in 100-year-old Lodi Zinfandel block

“Chilly tonight,” starts off a poem by Lisa Shields – “sweater weather, and I pull out the flannel sheets...”

Now that the skies are darkening by 6:00, and the mercury is dipping below 50° at night, it’s also that time of year for cozy red wines, pungent with berryish fruit tinged with aromas suggesting pumpkin pie spice and everything nice, or not.

Lodi Zinfandel, anyone?

Lodi’s lush, round, often earthy styles of Zinfandel not only taste like autumn, they also seem to slip into more food contexts that virtually any other wine there is. We know, because we’ve made the taste comparisons – on the table, where it counts...

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October 17, 2017 |

Lodi winemaker enjoys bringing people together through his craft

Todd Ziemann has made wine in Lodi since 1988, first with Sebastiani Family Vineyards and for the last 12 years as Senior Director, North Valley Winemaking at Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi and Turner Road Vintners.

Behind an iconic wine brand, such as Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, are everyday people like Todd Ziemann: Talented, committed and above all, passionate.

“The way I like to make wines is fruit with layers of complexity,” Ziemann said. “Fruit is the focus.”

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October 13, 2017 |

Participate in a statewide fire relief effort

Our hearts ache in the wake of the devastating fires in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino counties.

But together we can help.

California’s regional wine associations have united in the #CAWineStrong statewide fundraising project from now through the end of October. Whether winery, restaurant, other business owners or individuals, there is a way for you to pitch in and help. Here’s how:

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October 12, 2017 |

Lodi Participating in Joint Wildfire Relief Efforts

Lodi Winegrape Commission is participating in a joint effort among all California regional wine/winegrape associations to pull together in support of those areas affected by wildfires. We are disseminating information through joint press releases, social media posts, etc., regarding resources, donation drop offs, and other ways to lend support.

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Randy Caparoso
October 11, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Is Barbera California's most underappreciated classic varietal?

Barbera clusters in 45-year-old Leventini Vineyard, originally planted for E. & J. Gallo

Barbera is one of those red wine grapes that have been around longer than anyone can remember. Nor can anyone remember why. Like one of those guys you can always depend upon to show up at your parties. Doesn’t say much, but he’s always... there.

Good example: In one of the old, classic books on California wine – Robert Gorman’s Gorman on California Premium Wine (Ten Speed Press, 1976) – the author devotes over 270 pages on the enormous excitement generated by the best and latest California wines of the time. Despite the fact that, in the mid-1970s, there were close to 20,000 acres of the grape planted in the state, Gorman allots a total of only 27 words, in two sentences, to the subject of Barbera:

The varietal Barbera has many devotees among connoisseurs of California wine. The wines are usually tart, fruity, full flavored and useful for accompanying hearty, Italian style food...

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Randy Caparoso
October 6, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

What Lodi can do to slow down the loss of old vine plantings

Another one bites Lodi's sandy dust; dead ancient vine Zinfandel (planted in 1900s) in Noma Ranch

It’s a good time to enjoy good ol’ old vine Zinfandel. There’s a little bit of chill in the air, leaves are turning color, and the mind drifts off into memories of brown spices, baking pies, stews on the stove, bread in the oven, ugly sweaters.

But enjoy those wines while you can; because – as we mentioned in a previous post, Last rites for Lodi’s old vine growths – decently priced old vine Zinfandel grown in Lodi (the home of more old vine plantings than anywhere else in California) is disappearing as we speak...

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October 3, 2017 |

It's easy to be cheesy

Cindy Della Monica has one of the tastiest shops in town, Cheese Central in downtown Lodi.

Cindy Della Monica started baking bread when she was 8 years old growing up in Cupertino.

She took to gardening at age 10.

She clearly embraced farm-to-fork before it became a movement.

“The farm-to-fork movement is huge,” she said, “though that’s what we used to do all the time.”

And Della Monica still is following her childhood passion.

Cheese Central, a boutique, stand-alone cheese shop at 11 North School Street in downtown Lodi, is the culmination of Della Monica’s 40-plus years in the culinary arts. She enjoys helping educate visitors about the wonderful world of cheese – an art form nearly as old as civilization itself.

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Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Thursday - Monday 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

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