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
October 27, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Is it time for a Lodi Ancient Vine Accord?

At 104 years of age, Zinfandel grown in Lodi's Soucie Vineyard fits most definitions of "ancient vine"

Let's talk about ancient vines. What's the difference between an ancient vine and an old vine? There are no official guidelines for any of those designations. The TTB, which controls the language of American wine labels, is pretty lax when it comes to this. Which is good, because in our country we generally like a little bit of freedom with our commercial products, as long as we're being responsible about it.

If anything, here in Lodi, most vintners and growers go by the Historic Vineyard Society's definition of a "historic vineyard," which is a minimum of 50 years old for at least a third of a vineyard (all old vineyards consist of a good percentage of younger vines, planted to replace the original vines as they die off). This seems like a reasonable definition of "old vine" as well...

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Time Posted: Oct 27, 2020 at 2:00 PM Permalink to Is it time for a Lodi Ancient Vine Accord? Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 19, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Explaining the Lodi growers' Save the Old campaign

Ancient vine Zinfandel in Lodi's Peirano Estate, first planted in the 1890s

"Don't it always seem to go," goes that favorite old song, "that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

A couple of weeks ago the Lodi Winegrape Commission launched its Save the Old campaign. Read all about its Mission on It's all about stimulating consumer, wine trade and media interest in wines made from vineyards originally planted over 50 years ago, in the mid-1960s or earlier. This was period of time was when it was still not unusual, at least in Lodi, to plant grapes as free-standing, untrellised vines, many of them on their own natural rootstocks. In fact, the vast majority of Lodi's old vines are ungrafted, and there are more of these old vines in Lodi than anywhere else in California.

First, some background: The people behind this campaign are the Lodi growers themselves, who back in 1991 formed the Lodi Winegrape Commission to self-fund marketing, grower-education and viticultural research in order to improve the quality of their grapes and, basically, to sell more of them to the rapidly growing wine production industry... 

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Time Posted: Oct 19, 2020 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Explaining the Lodi growers' Save the Old campaign Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 15, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Is wine funny?

(courtesy of New Yorker)

Can wine appreciation be funny? You would think not, going by the seriousness of the overwhelming number of wine scribes scratching away on their online blogs or in all the lifestyle magazines or catalogue-like, numerical wine reviews.

But when you think about it, wine should be the funniest thing out there. Especially since wine is a social drink, and it has alcohol. It stimulates conversation, and makes people feel like they're a lot smarter or wittier than they actually are. Theoretically, rife for humor...

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Time Posted: Oct 15, 2020 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Is wine funny? Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 13, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

The legendary Maynard Amerine's shibboleths are timeless lessons in wine appreciation

U.C. Davis' legendary Maynard Amerine (1911-1998)

In 1976 U.C. Davis Professor Maynard A. Amerine published WINES: Their Sensory Evaluation with Edward B. Roessler. Amerine was a plant physiologist who had served as the chairman of U.C. Davis's renowned Department of Viticulture and Enology during the 1950s and '60s—a seminal period in the California wine industry—and Roessler was a mathematician who chaired the Department of Mathematics and Physics at the same school.

While long forgotten — especially in today's setting, in which sports journalists, ex-lawyers, MBAs, and practically anyone can become widely followed wine critics, dishing out numerical scores and opinions on wines as if they were handed down from Mount Sinai — for a time, Amerine and Roessler's rigorous approach to wine evaluation had considerable impact on the wine industry... 

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Time Posted: Oct 13, 2020 at 9:00 AM Permalink to The legendary Maynard Amerine's shibboleths are timeless lessons in wine appreciation Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 8, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi by the numbers, and where it stands among the rest of the world

Two heritage Lodi grapes from the 2020 harvest: Flame Tokay and Carignan

To get a true grip of the role Lodi plays in the world of wines, you need to see where the state of California stands in it. According to California Wine Institute's Discover California Wines website, California has a 60% share of the entire U.S. wine market by volume. This means about 3 out of every 5 bottles sold in the U.S. — including all imports — is grown and produced in California. California, which has (according to the Wine Institute) an estimated $114 billion economic impact on the entire country, also accounts for 95% of all American wines exported to other countries.

According to the most recent USDA statistics, the Lodi Viticultural Area crushes approximately 20.5% of all the wine grapes in California. This means just over 12% of all wine sold in the U.S. — again, including imports — is grown in Lodi. Not all the bottles may say "Lodi," since the region supplies most of the grapes going into value-priced bottles sold as "California" wine. Still, Lodi is... kind of a big deal...

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Time Posted: Oct 8, 2020 at 10:00 AM Permalink to Lodi by the numbers, and where it stands among the rest of the world Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 2, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Some twenty-first century wine tasting terms, part 2 (palate sensations)

Lodi Tempranillo tasting

Continued from: Some twenty-first century wine tasting terms, part 1 (nose)

The all-time classic on how-to-taste-wine is Michael Broadbent's Wine Tasting, orginally published in 1968 and perennially republished ever since. It started off, as Mr. Broadbent modestly put it, as a "slim pamplet," and didn't grow that much bigger over the years. But technique-wise, it's all anyone, consumers and professionals alike, would ever need to know about wine tasting..

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Time Posted: Oct 2, 2020 at 12:30 PM Permalink to Some twenty-first century wine tasting terms, part 2 (palate sensations) 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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