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 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
Randy Caparoso
December 6, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Legend of the red shorts & immortal zin

It was on the last day of this past November when we met with Lance Randolph, owner/winemaker of Peirano Estate, one of Lodi’s original landmark wineries; located just off of Hwy. 99, south of Peltier.  Mr. Randolph, conspicuously, was wearing a warm flannel shirt and a clean pair of jeans rather than bright red shorts:  the latter accoutrement signaling, to the entire Lodi wine community, that harvest 2010 is now officially over.

Wassup with that?  A long, long time ago, perhaps when dinosaurs walked the earth, Lance Randolph took to wearing red shorts first purchased on sale from a local sporting goods store because, well, Lodi summers were too darned hot to wear jeans while working his 300 acre vineyard estate.  The red shorts, along with Randolph’s “skinny legs,” soon became the butt of unending jokes within the farming community.  This went on for a few years until 1994, when at a meeting of Lodi grape growers – following the usual hoots about trunks and appendages – Randolph stood up and explained to his colleagues just why he wore the red shorts.

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Time Posted: Dec 6, 2010 at 3:19 PM Permalink to Legend of the red shorts & immortal zin Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 23, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi knows alternative Thanksgivings

“Happy families,” wrote Tolstoy, “are all alike, and every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Or are they?  As it’s also often said, we don’t get to choose our families, but to a large extent, we can certainly control the circumstances under which we see them.  Especially for Thanksgiving, which is all about everyone returning to the nest.

One thing we also know about families:  not all of them have the same taste.  Not everyone, for instance, digs turkey.  In a prior blogpost, A Lodi wine country Thanksgiving, we furnished a treatise on the ideal wines for many of the variations of turkey we love.  But what if your idea of Thanksgiving is, as illustrated by yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle piece called Crab makes you forget turkey on Thanksgiving, is some kind of fruits de mers (fish or shellfish), or roast beef, leg of lamb, baked ham, wild boar or shotgunned game birds?

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Time Posted: Nov 23, 2010 at 3:05 PM Permalink to Lodi knows alternative Thanksgivings Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 10, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

A Lodi wine country Thanksgiving

Let your turkey guide your wine choices, and one Lodi family’s Thanksgiving menu and secret family recipe for potato rolls…

The turkey is one of our greatest comfort foods.  When we were kids we simply traced our fingers to draw them.  It has also remained as all-American a culinary delicacy as any:  as ubiquitous as it may seem to us, it’s never caught on in other countries, even in Europe (because they used to confuse native Americans with Indians from India, the French still call it coq d’Inde, the “cock of India” – how twisted is that?).

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Time Posted: Nov 10, 2010 at 3:02 PM Permalink to A Lodi wine country Thanksgiving Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 9, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Fields Family post-holiday throw-down

Russ and Melinda Fields (and their three kids) and their partner/winemakers at Lodi’s Fields Family Wines, Ryan and Jalynn Sherman (with their two kids), celebrate Thanksgiving in the usual tradition.  But the during the weekend after, according to Ryan, the families and their friends get together to commence their “post-holiday throw-down.”

The Fields and Sherman families share a passion for cooking, which goes hand in hand with the passion for grapegrowing and winemaking they have shared since their first meeting of like minds in 2004.

According to Ryan, “Russ has an extremely extensive garden with too many things to even count, along with a chicken coop (another understatement – I call it the Chicken Four Seasons).  He normally whips up several items from the vegetable garden, and I make a killer braised beef short ribs in Lodi zin (ours, of course) with a rich side of mashed potatoes.”

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Time Posted: Nov 9, 2010 at 3:58 PM Permalink to Fields Family post-holiday throw-down Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 9, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Thanksgiving sweets everybody loves

Who doesn’t love a great sweet wine?  Your Aunt Gladys and Uncle Boyd, your brother the wine geek, your sister the foodie, mom who loves everything and dad who always proclaims “I know what I like” but still can never remember what he had last week:  they all love the wines winemakers probably work the hardest on which, incidentally, always taste great with dessert.

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Time Posted: Nov 9, 2010 at 2:54 PM Permalink to Thanksgiving sweets everybody loves Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 5, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Taste Lodi: Woodbridge Moscato

The goods: A compelling array of orange blossom, rose petal, tropical flowers (jasmine and frangipani) and honeysuckle perfumes tease the nose; and then totally deliver on the palate:  feathery light(10.3% alcohol) and modestly sweet (4.8% residual sugar) sensations, with the airy crispness of lemon cookies and a tingly touch of effervescence (what the Italians would call frizzante).

Price & provenance: $12; grown primarily in Lodi from grapes of Muscat Canelli (46%), Muscat Orange (46%) and Gewürztraminer (8%)

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Time Posted: Nov 5, 2010 at 2:50 PM Permalink to Taste Lodi: Woodbridge Moscato Permalink

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