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.
It's that time of year when we start to talk about the most significant wine trends to expect in 2024.
At the end of this past November, for instance, the Benson Marketing Group came out with 6 Wine Industry Trends You Can't Ignore in 2024. Their first prediction: "The no-alcohol or low-alcohol wine craze continues." Question is, for whom? Wine lovers certainly don't drink non-alcohol wines, and they never will, unless ordered by their doctors.
The Benson group suggests that alcohol-free beverages are being driven by Millennials and Gen Z consumers seeking "healthier lifestyles and more mindful consumption." Clearly, though, this piece of information is neither here nor there for consumers who currently drink wine, and means nothing to wineries that make their living anticipating what actual wine drinkers want...Continue »
For last-minute shopping and wine education, visit Certified Sommelier Paul Marsh at the Lodi Wine Visitor Center
The Lodi Wine Visitor Center retail store and tasting bar. Stephanie Russo Photography.
There may be just three more shopping days until Christmas, but no reason to panic. Especially for the Lodi wine connoisseurs in your life.
Because there is still a one-stop place to find absolutely the finest Lodi grown wines there are to buy: the Lodi Wine Visitor Center located in Lodi at 2545 W. Turner Road.
If you've visited Lodi's Visitor Center—owned by Lodi Winegrape Commisison, the association of over 700 regional wine grape growers—you know that it operates not just as a retail shop but also as a tasting bar.
But if you haven't been to the Lodi Visitor Center since 2021, what you may not know is that the selections of wines themselves are more discerning than ever—virtually every bottle on the shelf a shining example of what distinguishes Lodi as an appellation...Continue »
2023 will go down as the year when old vines finally got their due. No longer for just the outward beauty of these plants, their astonishing longevity or the special character of their resulting wines, but also for their significance in respect, as the recently established (June 2023) Old Vine Registry puts it, to the current "planetary crisis."
It is the very adaptability of old vines to decades or even centuries of extreme weather, pest and disease pressures that carry the "secrets of survival," according to Old Vine Registry, tantamount to the entire international wine community. "Big, gnarly vines," they write, "are significant reservoirs of biomass and carbon... they play vital roles in local hydrological cycles... their old, deep-and-wide root networks are inextricably bound up with and connected to the mycorrhizal networks that sustain, feed and protect our soils."
In addition, "old vineyards are also often full of clonal diversity and rare varieties... the genes of old vines can be studied, and old-vine material can be propagated for more resilient young vines..."Continue »
Drone-captured message sent to Airborne Visible/InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer, written among grapevines by Lodi growers who collaborated on pathogen-spotting research conducted in collaboration with NASA's Applied Science Program. Aaron Lange (LangeTwins Family Winery) and Stephanie Bolton (Lodi Winegrape Commission).
Making things happen in the vineyard
The future of Lodi winegrowing lies in the recent past, which has been defined by two things:Continue »
Point in history
There have been a few hiccups during Lodi's transition to higher quality wine grapes over the past forty to fifty years. For instance, Zinfandel—California's most enduring heritage grape for the production of dry table reds—was primarily utilized to produce mildly sweet pink wine (i.e., White Zinfandel) during the 1980s and 1990s.
Although the White Zinfandel craze did not exactly enhance Lodi's reputation as a wine region of quality, it did help preserve the region's existing plantings of the grape—many of them over 50 or as much as 100 years old—and kept growers from pulling out these heritage Zinfandel blocks in favor of popular "new" varieties such as Chardonnay or Merlot.
If not for White Zinfandel, we may not be able to describe Lodi, as we do today, as the region with the most old vine plantings (that is, vineyards planted over 50 years ago) in the country...Continue »
Christmas shopping for discriminating wine lovers is next to impossible. They may know what they like, but what that is is anyone's guess. Taste in fine wine, as in all matters of taste, is a highly personal choice.
Hence, the following list, which is not a "best of." It is a list of a dozen Lodi-grown wines released in 2023 that would appeal to collectors because there is something about each that is a little out of the ordinary. And there's nothing connoisseurs like better than things that are out of the ordinary.
Each of these wines, of course, are also very good. They would appeal to anyone who appreciates wines of exceptional quality.
Best of all, each wine is very "Lodi"—distinctive to the appellation on a sensory level, on an intellectual level, or both...Continue »