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
November 30, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Uvaggio's Vermentino and Passito exemplify the once, future and never-to-be-again

Uvaggio winemaker/owner Jim Moore

Alone in the vegetable kingdom, the vine makes the true savor of the earth intelligible to man. - Colette

The knock on California wines – particularly by those with a penchant for European wines – is that the weather is so warm and benign that the resulting wines are invariably more fruity than expressive of “place.” This may be true. In fact, rather than wines that best express their respective vineyard sources, American magazines tend to gleefully give the highest scores to wines that have the plumpest, fruitiest character.

When it comes to wines, California is like the preening hunk or curvaceous hussy we can't wait to watch each week.

But is it the weather or the grapes that pump up California wines into shallow, liquid fruit bombs? Nearly 30 years ago, on a personal quest to learn what makes French wines tick, I tasted for the first time white wines in Provence made from a grape called Rolle. It was an awkward introduction, as are all encounters when you have no point of reference and something is a little off or different. These white wines were not full bodied or intense with fruit, which is how California wines are rated. Instead they were lean, tart and dry – like drinking mineral water, only with alcohol and a squeeze of lemon – and their aromas were more like mixtures of thyme, anise and lavender rather than the apples-peaches-pumpkin-pies typical of California wines...

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Time Posted: Nov 30, 2017 at 6:00 AM Permalink to Uvaggio's Vermentino and Passito exemplify the once, future and never-to-be-again Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 24, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Paskett tasting room opens on site of Lodi's historic Langford Colony

Paskett Vineyards & Winery owner Lorraine Paskett in her east side Lodi Charbono vineyard

All the stars seem to be aligned for the tasting room debut of Lodi’s newest artisanal producer, Paskett Vineyards & Winery, on the Saturday of 2017’s Thanksgiving weekend, November 25 (11:30 AM to 5:00 PM).

The “stars” being:

 A great, well-established vineyard site; located on the east side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA (next door to Heritage Oak Winery’s esteemed riverside plantings), and long known for its extraordinary Charbono grapes (in the past, bottled by Heritage Oak, Pasos Vineyards, and other specialty producers).

 The Paskett family’s original vineyard (owned and cultivated since the late 1960s) located in the rich yet porous, sandy loam soils of Mokelumne River-Lodi’s west side, representing one of the Lodi community’s earliest forays into Cabernet Sauvignon.

 The winemaking talents of Heather Pyle – already well-known for the exquisitely crafted wines of Lodi’s The Lucas Winery, as well as for her previous career as a winemaker for Robert Mondavi Winery between 1985 and 2001 (which included stints as director of winemaking for Opus One Winery and the now-defunct La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi)...

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Time Posted: Nov 24, 2017 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Paskett tasting room opens on site of Lodi's historic Langford Colony Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 21, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Five things to be thankful about Lodi in 2017

November leaf on ancient Lodi vine

Lodi contributes to the joy of wine lovers in nearly every corner of the world, and in many ways that are not always readily apparent, or appreciated.

Maybe it’s time for us to recount a few of the things about the Lodi wine region that are often overlooked; for which we should all be thankful...

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Time Posted: Nov 21, 2017 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Five things to be thankful about Lodi in 2017 Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 16, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Planning the most bodacious Thanksgiving ever (with Lodi wines!)

Glass of Zinfandel, Lodi's heritage grape, in 116-year-old Marian's Vineyard

Thanksgiving means “home” for most Americans; but even if you can’t physically make it back to the ranch or hometown, it’s the all-American culinary delectables that bring back the feeling of home no matter where you may be.

Everyone has their go-to dishes. You don’t have to actually read the recipes, for instance, to find yourself salivating over the suggestions listed by Better Homes & Gardens in their most current vision of the classic American feast:

► Oven roasted turkey rubbed from inside the skin with herb butter; with old fashioned bread or porcini-chestnut stuffing, and served with a “satiny smooth” pan gravy scraped up from the drippings (or if you’re bold, with finely chopped turkey gizzards and liver)...

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Time Posted: Nov 16, 2017 at 5:00 AM Permalink to Planning the most bodacious Thanksgiving ever (with Lodi wines!) Permalink
November 14, 2017 |

Bare Ranch is a quiet, peaceful step back in time

Lori Phillips runs Bare Ranch, a historic property more than 100 years old in Lodi.


Behind a cluster of towering pines, past a botanical garden and along a gravel path stands a beautiful link to Lodi’s past.

The Bare Ranch mansion exudes opulence from a foregone era.

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Time Posted: Nov 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM Permalink to Bare Ranch is a quiet, peaceful step back in time Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 9, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

The new Markus wines take Lodi reds to another level

Markus Wine Co.'s Markus Niggli

The word is officially out: At the end of 2017, Lodi’s historic Borra Vineyards (the region’s oldest independent family winery) will cease to exist. Borra’s acclaimed winemaker, Markus Niggli, will be packing up the winery equipment – lock, stock and (literally) barrel – and moving everything to a still-to-be-announced location elsewhere in the Lodi region, where he will focus 100% on his own brand, Markus Wine Co.

While Borra Vineyards founder/proprietor Steve Borra will convert the existing winery facility and tasting room over to additional office space for his other successful business, Lodi Irrigation, he will continue to work with Mr. Niggli with Borra family vineyard operations.

Meanwhile, Niggli has just released the first of four phenomenal, reserve level (meaning, no-holds-barred viticulture and crafting) red wines bottled under his Markus label; all showing off this Swiss-born winemaker’s unique, European approach to vinification (largely native yeast fermented, with minimal oak influence) and blending...

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Time Posted: Nov 9, 2017 at 6:00 AM Permalink to The new Markus wines take Lodi reds to another level Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 7, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

LVVR's Champagne style sparklers make ideal holiday libations

LVVR sparkling wine master Eric Donaldson in his tasting room

Up until recently, the Lodi wine region has never been associated with traditional Champagne style sparkling wines. That all changed when LVVR Sparkling Cellars opened its tasting room doors in July 2016 (see LVVR bring prestige sparkling wines to Lodi).

Of course, production of the finest sparkling wines – those produced in the style originating in the Champagne region in France (called méthode Champenoise) – is a laborious process, taking years to master. LVVR winemaker/owner Eric Donaldson started his project in 2012 – taking nearly 4 years until he was ready to release his first commercial sparkling wines...

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Time Posted: Nov 7, 2017 at 7:00 AM Permalink to LVVR's Champagne style sparklers make ideal holiday libations Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 1, 2017 | Randy Caparoso

Explore diverse styles during Lodi Tour of Tempranillo

Are you ready for the second annual Lodi Tour of Tempranillo? On November 10, 11 and 12, thirteen Lodi wineries will celebrate International Tempranillo Day (officially, November 9, 2017) with barrel tastings, culinary treats, bonus discounts, and a raffle for a full case of Lodi Tempranillos. As with typical wine region drive-arounds, you can pick up your complimentary guidebook at any of the participating winery tasting rooms (see list at the end of this post) before setting out on your Tempranillo tasting adventure.

And of course, if you’re not yet thoroughly familiar with Tempranillo, this is the perfect time and opportunity. So let’s talk “Temp”...

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Time Posted: Nov 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Explore diverse styles during Lodi Tour of Tempranillo 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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