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
December 29, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi’s best days ahead (thanks to Mark Chandler!)


Mark Chandler

On January 1, 2012 the Lodi Winegrape Commission – representing over 750 Lodi region growers plus over 80 wineries – will embark on a new era with the departure of Mark Chandler, the organization’s first and only Executive Director since its establishment 20 years ago.  Mr. Chandler, who has privately been telling friends simply that “it was time,” has composed a farewell in his succinct yet sincere fashion (a long admired signature!) for our readers on

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Time Posted: Dec 29, 2011 at 5:54 PM Permalink to Lodi’s best days ahead (thanks to Mark Chandler!) Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 27, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

A year in Lodi 2011 (part 2)


The classic, super-well drained, beach-like Tokay sandy loam beneath 92 year old Alicante Bouschet vine in Mohr-Fry Ranches (mid-Nov. 2011)

In August of each year in the wine country, grapes are past véraison — when sugar rises and acidity decreases in the grapes, which turn from a hard green to shades of purple, red, black, blue or gold — and are beginning their race towards their peaks of flavor.

As in many other parts of the world, the challenge for growers in Lodi is to achieve full fledged ripeness notwithstanding nature’s usual autumnal slings and arrows:  rain, rot, cold, heat, dessication, and on and on.  Vintage 2011 in Lodi was as problematic as most, but overall quality, in terms of sugar/acid balance and pure flavor, was as good as any.  Especially in regards to Zinfandel, Lodi’s bread and butter — most of which were picked prior to mid-October rains.  Subsequent rot forced some growers to leave a small percentage of their vineyards unpicked (particularly Petite Sirah), while the sturdier late ripening grapes (like Cabernet Sauvignon) survived the damp spell with their skins intact...

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Time Posted: Dec 27, 2011 at 6:34 PM Permalink to A year in Lodi 2011 (part 2) Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 23, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

A year in Lodi 2011 (part 1)


Against the typical cloudy backdrop of January, ancient Lodi vines, just pruned and conserving energy for their upcoming spring bud break...

Looking back on another fruitful year in the Delta

Looking back at our favorite photos of the past year also gives us a good sense of how vintage 2011 developed, and more to look forward to in the years to come when we finally uncork and taste the year in our mouths.  Some of our favorite scenes from the past year...

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Time Posted: Dec 23, 2011 at 7:13 PM Permalink to A year in Lodi 2011 (part 1) Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 20, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

What Lodi’s winemakers are enjoying this Christmas


What will Lodi’s winemakers be enjoying over the upcoming Christmas holidays?  We asked a few of Lodi’s finest this question, and discovered a couple of things:  how much of a mutual admiration society they have going on (they love drinking their colleagues’ wines), and how much they great European or classic American wines.  What they say...

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Time Posted: Dec 20, 2011 at 8:26 PM Permalink to What Lodi’s winemakers are enjoying this Christmas Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 13, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Dream case for the Lodi wine lover who has everything


Why begrudge your fellow man by stalking off or clicking off the television every time one of those Lexus Christmas commercials comes on?  We can be happy for other people’s success (yeah, right), but when it comes to wine, this question never really goes away:  why do people spend too much on bottles of wine?

We’re talking about big-name, big-shot wines that cost over $100, $200, or even $500 a bottle.  They’re not like a Lexus, which at least gives you a nifty package of engineering.  Fine wine is more like aesthetic arts or crafts:  the qualities appreciated are sensory, and therefore very much a state of mind, rather than a measurable technology.  The most exciting wine, when you think like this, are those that are totally new and unexpected.  Wines of originality as opposed to sameness; surprise as opposed to predictability.

And if there’s anything for which Lodi grown wines are becoming increasingly known, it’s their originality and total, wonderful ability to surprise.  Who would think, for instance, that wines made from grapes called Tannat or Verdelho could taste so good?  Although these grapes have European origins, very few vintners in Napa Valley or Walla Walla would think to grow them.  They’re mostly stuck on grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay – which are perfectly fine, but not always a turn-on for wine lovers with a thirst for the new and different...

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Time Posted: Dec 13, 2011 at 8:34 PM Permalink to Dream case for the Lodi wine lover who has everything Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 6, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Test your Lodi white wine grape knowledge (part 2)


Mystery grape #3 is the dominant Lodi grown grape in Abundance Vineyards' multi-award winning Bountiful Blanc

If you did well in part 1 of Test your Lodi white wine grape knowledge, here’s the skinny here:  part 2 is a lot more challenging.

So just how big a Lodi wine lover are you?  You’ll find out at the very end of this post, where you’ll find the answers.

Hints:  Most of these grapes are commonly grown up and down the West Coast, from Santa Barbara to Walla Walla, but one of these is quite unique to Lodi (meaning, very little is grown outside Lodi, except in its country of origin).  But all are members of Vitis vinifera, the classic European family of wine grapes.  Ready, set?  Guess away!

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Time Posted: Dec 6, 2011 at 8:48 PM Permalink to Test your Lodi white wine grape knowledge (part 2) Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 2, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Macchia releases the first of the “perfect” 2010 zins


Tim & Lani Holdener at Macchia's 2011 Fall Release Party

One of the Lodi AVA‘s brightest success stories is Macchia Wines, owned and operated by Tim Holdener and his family.  Like a dozen or so other key Lodi vintners, Holdener started off as a “home” winemaker, turned professional in 2001, and hasn’t looked back since:  Macchia now produces about 10,000 cases a year, most of which are sold out within six months of release...

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Time Posted: Dec 2, 2011 at 8:56 PM Permalink to Macchia releases the first of the “perfect” 2010 zins Permalink

Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
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Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
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