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
January 13, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi reaps more Chronicle gold than ever

Lodi reaps more Chronicle gold than ever

Earlier this month, 66 highly discriminating wine professionals and distinguished members of the wine media met to judge a staggering 5,050 wines as part of the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Although this is an annual judging of American wines, the vast majority of the Chronicle’s entries each year come from California, each vying to “out-competition” the other. Individual wines made from Lodi grown grapes earned 2 Best of Class distinctions (the absolute highest rated wines of their categories, notwithstanding price), 2 Double Gold medals (meaning, the entire group of judges, with no naysayers, voted to award a gold..

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Time Posted: Jan 13, 2011 at 1:02 PM Permalink to Lodi reaps more Chronicle gold than ever Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 10, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

The tower of strength behind Lodi's Heritage Oak


Tom Hoffman in his Block 14

When you meet Tom Hoffman, owner/winemaker of Heritage Oak Winery, he strikes you as a reluctant hero, a pensive cowboy, a knight of infinite resignation or eloquent quietude; steadily steering his family legacy, with roots planted firmly in Lodi since 1868, through ebbs and flows, rocks and hard places, while lashed to masts that typify the challenges and constraints of farmers seemingly perpetually endowed in undervalued products…

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Time Posted: Jan 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM Permalink to The tower of strength behind Lodi's Heritage Oak Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 7, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Harmony Wynelands’ meditative wines

Harmony Wynelands’ meditative wines

Shaun MacKay did not take a direct path to his current position as winemaker of Harmony Wynelands, a gorgeous 17 acre winery estate on Lodi’s Harney Lane. First, like another young man named Gotama did some 1,500 years ago, he endeavored to bind his consciousness with his energy and place in the world. Otherwise, without that “mindfulness,” what’s the point of doing whatever you are doing in your life? If you’ve ever wondered what’s the point of a lot of wines — especially those that have the “taste” of a grape like, say, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, without the tiniest..

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Time Posted: Jan 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM Permalink to Harmony Wynelands’ meditative wines Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 31, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Gotta luv Lodi Petite Sirah!

For dyed-in-the-wool red wine lovers, Petite Sirah is the Sara Lee of grapes – who doesn’t love it?

It makes big, yet round and comfortable red wines – think Gerard or Charlize throwing kisses from a down topped Tempu-Pedic mattress – satisfying the nose and touching every part of the mouth with its purple stained, pungent flavors that are ripe yet sturdy, more often than not suggesting baked blueberry pies with black pepper and brown stick spices.

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Time Posted: Dec 31, 2010 at 3:49 PM Permalink to Gotta luv Lodi Petite Sirah! Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 29, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Tasting royal-tee at Jessie’s Grove

When you stroll through the Royal Tee Vineyard belonging to Lodi’s Jessie’s Grove Winery, you literally brush up against history.  This 5 acre vineyard was originally planted by Joseph Spenker in 1889; so long ago, even American history buffs have trouble recalling who was president then (it was Benjamin Harrison).

Today, these majestic vines – twisting, whirling arms rising from tree-like trunks, like graceful, oversized bonsai – produce red wines that are emblematic of the recent growth of Lodi as a region known for ultra-premium wine growing: namely, Jesse’s Grove’s Ancient Vine Carignane and Royal Tee Zinfandel.

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Time Posted: Dec 29, 2010 at 3:46 PM Permalink to Tasting royal-tee at Jessie’s Grove Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 24, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

McCay’s Truluck ways with Lodi zin

We read the news today, oh boy:  the 2007 McCay Cellars Jupiter Lodi Zinfandel ($24) was named among the TOP 100 Wines of 2010 by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The significance?  There are, after all, thousands upon thousands of wonderful wines produced around the world each year that don’t make prestigious top 100 lists.  More importantly, this is one of the first times a Lodi wine was conscientiously picked to be among an elite. 

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Time Posted: Dec 24, 2010 at 3:39 PM Permalink to McCay’s Truluck ways with Lodi zin Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 22, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi Zinfandel history, the Lange family and gumbo

A slice of Lodi’s Zinfandel past…

Before joining the LangeTwins Winery & Vineyards team in 2005, David Akiyoshi was a second generation winemaker in charge of production at Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi.  It’s the 25 years spent in the previous capacity that has given Akiyoshi as broad a perspective on Lodi winegrowing as anyone in the business.

Save, perhaps, that of the Langes themselves; who, like a number of other families in Lodi, have sustained a powerful presence in the Delta community for over 100 years.  The LangeTwins winery co-founders — identical twins, Randy and Brad Lange — together with their grown kids, represent the fourth and fifth generations of Langes who have been farming hundreds of acres in Lodi’s Mokelumne River and Clements Hills AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), as well as in the Delta’s Clarksburg AVA for most of the last century.

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Time Posted: Dec 22, 2010 at 3:34 PM Permalink to Lodi Zinfandel history, the Lange family and gumbo Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 14, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

The zin lovers’ last minute gift list

What do you give a Zinfandel lover who has everything, has been there and done that?  It is possible to find something he (or she) would shout hallelujah! about in the early hours of Christmas morn; and that something would be something rare, highly individualistic (in terms of pure winemaking aesthetics), and yes, a bit of an expenditure (operative term:  “bit,” since even rare, higher priced Lodi wines are still such damned good values).

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Time Posted: Dec 14, 2010 at 3:30 PM Permalink to The zin lovers’ last minute gift list Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 13, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

M marks the spot for outrageous zins

A history of Zinfandel crystallizied by the old soldiers behind Macchia’s Outrageous…

However Yoda-like as it may sound, when Tim Holdener, winemaker/proprietor of Lodi’s Macchia Wines, talks about how he earned his reputation as a Lodi zin master, he likes to use the phrase,  “treat the vine like a man, and the wine like a woman.”

Meaning:  if grape vines you stress, even treating them harshly by withholding water and excising severe cluster thinning, possible it is to grow more flavorful grapes; and once those grapes are in the winery, apply you must the gentlest of techniques to coax the most graceful and intense qualities possible out of that fruit.  Ipso fact:  outrageously good Zinfandel!

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Time Posted: Dec 13, 2010 at 3:27 PM Permalink to M marks the spot for outrageous zins Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 11, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

It’s a wonderful life at Vino Farms' Grand Vin Lands

It’s mid-December, and who among us is not thinking about… It’s a Wonderful Life?  We sure were, last week when Chris Storm, Viticulturist for Lodi’s Vino Farms, took us through this vineyard management company’s showcase property:  grandly named Grand Vin Lands.

Located on the far eastern edge of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA off E. Peltier, Grand Vin Lands is a 225 acre vineyard serving as both a source of high quality grapes and a pilot program for sustainable farming, as defined by the most pro-active articles of Lodi’s ground breaking, third party (Protected Harvest) certification program, called Lodi Rules.

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Time Posted: Dec 11, 2010 at 3:23 PM Permalink to It’s a wonderful life at Vino Farms' Grand Vin Lands Permalink

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