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 30, 2018 |

Lodi continues efforts to reach new audiences

More than 20 Japanese wine professionals recently visited Lodi and learned a whole lot about the region's wines, terroir and people.

Hiro Tejima is a wine professional new to his job as Japan Director with the California Wine Institute after working many years in the Australian wine industry.

Tejima, who is based in Sydney, Australia, recently brought a group of 20 acclaimed Japanese wine professionals to Lodi. The contingent included sommeliers, wine educators, restaurateurs, media and representatives from the top 10 most successful restaurants in the 2018 California Wines by the Glass Program.

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Time Posted: Oct 30, 2018 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Lodi continues efforts to reach new audiences Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 25, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Aficionados of Spanish inspired wines to celebrate 2018 Lodi Tour of Tempranillo this coming November 9-11

For what has become an autumn ritual for Lodi wine country, we advise you to block out the second weekend of November – Friday the 9th through Sunday the 11th – to partake in the 2018 Lodi Tour of Tempranillo Weekend.

While there are easily over two dozen red wine grapes grown successfully in the Lodi Viticultural Area, Tempranillo has emerged as one of the most natural fits for the region’s Mediterranean climate and terroir; whether grown in the sandy loams or gravelly clay loams of Lodi’s west side appellations (Mokelumne River, Jahant and Alta Mesa), or in the cobble or boulder strewn volcanic mounds of the east side AVAs (Clements Hills and Borden Ranch)...

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Time Posted: Oct 25, 2018 at 12:30 PM Permalink to Aficionados of Spanish inspired wines to celebrate 2018 Lodi Tour of Tempranillo this coming November 9-11 Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 23, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Michael David’s new Politically Correct red continues to shake things up in Lodi’s wine industry

Michael David Winery's new Politically Correct red

Bold, decisive strokes. That’s what’s turned Lodi’s Michael David Winery from a modest (2,000-case), local winery in 2002 to a million-case winery producing wines sold all over the world in 2018.

With yesterday’s news that Michael David Winery has sold their eponymous brand, 7 Deadly Zins, to the The Wine Group (TWG) – a Livermore-based management-owned company that also controls Cupcake, Franzia, flipflop, Almaden, Big House, Benzinger Family, Glen EllenMogen David and even more brands – it has become clear that more changes are afoot at Lodi’s most widely known family-owned winegrowing/winemaking company...

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Time Posted: Oct 23, 2018 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Michael David’s new Politically Correct red continues to shake things up in Lodi’s wine industry Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 18, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

The nitty-gritty on Lodi’s seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs)

Beautifully restored riparian environment showing classic San Joaquin Series soil (a clay alluvium, and also the official state soil of California) in LangeTwins Family Vineyards' Jahant AVA estate

 Why sub-divide a region by smaller AVAs?

In August 2006, when the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) approved the usage of seven new American Viticultural Areas (a.k.a. AVAs) within the broader Lodi AVA (originally established in 1986), the question in the minds of a lot of people among the wine industry, the media and consumers was: why?

Isn’t getting anyone to recognize Lodi as an existing wine region hard enough, without complicating the matter with seven more sub-regions?

The question is legitimate. Then again, so is the answer – the reasons for establishing the Lodi sub-appellations even if, in the beginning, they are unfamiliar to just about everyone outside the growers who actually work these vineyards...

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Time Posted: Oct 18, 2018 at 8:00 AM Permalink to The nitty-gritty on Lodi’s seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) Permalink
October 16, 2018 |

'Normal' Growing Season in Lodi Could Make for an Epic Vintage

A worker carries a tote filled with Clairette blanche at Acquiesce Winery in Acampo (photos by Randy Caparoso).

Lodi transforms during harvest.

The area takes on a different look and feel.

Earthy aromas waft as workers tend the vineyards, and pick-ups line roads in clusters here and there where the action is taking place. Tractors amble on two-lane byways, creating a line of trailing passenger cars waiting for the chance to pass.

Much of the picking takes place at night when the air is cool. Harvesters, flood lights glaring, appear like UFOs from a scene in “War of the Worlds,” assembling to stage a sneak attack. In the morning’s wee hours, the streets generally are void of traffic but for big rigs hauling gondolas with their blinkers flashing. And an infectious, grapey fermented aroma emanates from the wineries.

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Time Posted: Oct 16, 2018 at 8:00 AM Permalink to 'Normal' Growing Season in Lodi Could Make for an Epic Vintage Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 11, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Bokisch Vineyards releases groundbreaking Monastrell (a.k.a. Mourvèdre)

2018 Monastrell this past week in Bokisch's Sheldon Hills Vineyard (Sloughhouse-Lodi AVA)

This past weekend, Lodi’s Bokisch Vineyards debuted a Monastrell – a Spanish moniker for the varietal more commonly known as Mourvèdre – that has to be described as no less than groundbreaking. For Lodi, as well as for California in general.

First, the wine in question: The 2016 Bokisch Vineyards Sheldon Hills Vineyard Sloughhouse-Lodi Monastrell ($25) is a dark ruby colored wine showing off an elusive yet compelling nose suggesting sweet Santa Rosa plum and sun dried cherry, tinged with rosemary/thyme-like fragrances against a faint backdrop of coffee/mocha spices and roasting meats. On the palate, the wine is meaty textured with a medium-full body that has a dense, textured, viscous feel – like a vinous equivalent to fluid, savory demi-glace – without being weighty or plodding; the plummy/dried cherry sensations playing with the kitchen herby/mocha spice sensations all the way into a lip smacking finish. In short, good enough to eat!

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Time Posted: Oct 11, 2018 at 1:30 PM Permalink to Bokisch Vineyards releases groundbreaking Monastrell (a.k.a. Mourvèdre) Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 9, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Leaf and Vine: Love of Lodi inspires another Napa based independent

Tim Keith, co-owner/winemaker of Leaf and Vine Winery in his Rebel Vintners tasting room

Leaf and Vine Winery – a small, father-and-son (Rick and Tim Keith) owned and operated company – is based in the City of Napa; and so naturally, they produce Napa Valley wines. But winemaker/partner Tim Keith is also crazy about Lodi grown grapes. Therefore he crafts six different vineyard-designate wines with Lodi stamped prominently on the labels.

Also typical of many of the boutique sized winemakers who have recently begun flocking to Lodi vineyards like moths to a flame, the younger Keith is an advocate of wines fermented with native, or indigenous, yeasts; strictly neutral oak aging (that is, older barrels that do not impart significant wood flavors); zero filtration or fining of finished wines; and generally, a minimalist, “hands off” approach when it comes to just about everything done in the winery...

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Time Posted: Oct 9, 2018 at 1:00 PM Permalink to Leaf and Vine: Love of Lodi inspires another Napa based independent Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 4, 2018 | Randy Caparoso

Holman Cellars pays homage to Lodi vineyards with natural style wines

Holman Cellars owner/winemaker Jason Holman with Shinn Ranch's 90-year-old Mule Plane Vineyard Carignan on Lodi's west side

As wineries go, the Napa based Holman Cellars is definitely small-fry – only about 1,200 cases a year, which is probably just right for owner/winemaker Jason Holman, who labors as a 1-man team. And because Mr. Holman is all about, as he puts it, “unique things,” at least 60% of the grapes he uses come from Lodi.

Thus, Holman’s goal is to focus on just 1 to 5-barrel lots; defining size in terms of diversity of varietals and blends, rather than sheer volume of production. He is also not above utilizing the assistance of children – that is, his three kids, Marina (age 8), Duke (6) and Adelaide (just 3), although the youngest pitches in only when she’s in the mood – because when it comes to crushing grapes, Mr. Holman prefers to do it the old fashioned way, with feet...

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Time Posted: Oct 4, 2018 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Holman Cellars pays homage to Lodi vineyards with natural style wines Permalink
October 2, 2018 |

Lodi 'Newcomers' Making Their Mark at Klinker Brick

Joseph Smith, left, and Chris Rivera comprise the winemaking team at Klinker Brick Winery.

Joseph Smith and Chris Rivera are the winemaking team at Lodi’s renowned Klinker Brick Winery.

Smith hails from the Caribbean nation of Belize, while Rivera’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Michoacán, Mexico.

Smith has been Klinker Brick’s winemaker nearly 10 years, and Rivera has been his understudy the past four years. Together, their passion and talent have helped Klinker Brick experience phenomenal growth behind a diverse lineup of premium artisan wines. Not only is Klinker Brick Winery a favorite destination for visitors to Lodi, their wines are distributed and enjoyed throughout the United States and overseas.

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Time Posted: Oct 2, 2018 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Lodi 'Newcomers' Making Their Mark at Klinker Brick Permalink

Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Daily 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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