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.
A consummate Mediterranean varietal
While still a distinct minority taste, American grown bottlings of Spanish grapes have carved out a modest niche in the domestic market over the past ten, twenty years. In Lodi, even more so: Local wineries are currently producing more bottlings of, say, Albariño and Tempranillo than Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Why? Because grapes of Spanish origin have found a natural home in Lodi's Mediterranean climate zone. Zinfandel, for instance, is a grape that originated in Europe's Mediterranean Basin (Croatia and Southern Italy, to be specific), and therefore is a grape that absolutely loves Lodi's bright sun and sandy soils. Ergo, there is far more Zinfandel grown in Lodi than in any other region in California...Continue »
Some Lodi Albariño history
Back around 2005 when Kyle and Jorja Lerner were first drawing up plans to establish their Harney Lane Winery on the Lodi property that their family, a branch of the Mettlers, had been farming since 1899, they approached Jorja's parents George and Kathy Mettler with the proposal.
The elder Mettlers gave their okay, but Kathy had one stipulation: "You have to make Albariño"—referring to the white wine grape of Spanish origins to which Kathy had taken a strong liking...Continue »
That wasn't long ago, but at that time the vast majority of consumers were still in their Chardonnay or White Zinfandel stage. If you drank red Lodi wines, you mostly drank overly fruited or oaky Zinfandel. The wine industry, if anything, has always aimed to please, but it's only been recently that consumers have been pleased by dry style rosés. Thirteen years ago, most vintners couldn't give those wines away.
So what's a rosé-crazy winemaker to do, now that dry rosé has become such a popular wine category? If you're Mike McCay, you start producing five or six different rosés each year. This, mind you, is not normal. Even giant sized wineries in Southern France—where more dry rosés are grown, produced, sold and consumed than anywhere else in the world—typically bottle just one brand-defining rosé...Continue »
La Belle Nue, more than a contemporary style rosé, also the story of one Millennial's return home to spotlight her Lodi community
Once upon a time, Jacylyn Stokes bade farewell to her home and family in Lodi. This only made her eventual return all the more fulfilling.
"La Belle Nue tells my story, growing up as part of a Lodi farming family, traveling all over the world, then living in France, and how I brought this story back home to Lodi...Continue »
The 9,000-year history of Vitis vinifera, emerging from the genetic mixture of domesticated and wild grapes
Lodi is a warm climate winegrowing region. We usually use the term "Mediterranean Climate" to describe Lodi's climate because, to begin with, the Mediterranean Basin itself (stretching from Spain and Southern France through Italy, Greece and the Middle East) is a vast winegrowing region, producing countless wines of amazing quality and diversity. If a Mediterranean climate was always good enough for the ancient wine regions encircling the Mediterreanean Sea, it certainly is good enough for a region like Lodi...Continue »
June 21 marks 2023's first day of summer, but we can already feel the season in the air when many of our thoughts turn to... barbecue!
We've posted many a write-up on this food group for a couple of reasons: 1) who doesn't love barbecue when the weather gets warm? and 2) the perfect wine for barbecue happens to be made from the grape for which the Lodi wine region is best known—Zinfandel.
First, about Zinfandel—primarily, that is, red Zinfandel, although there are a number of good, dry Zinfandel rosés now being made—as the perfect barbecue wine: We have enjoyed many different wines with barbecues, from smoked dry rub baby back ribs to pulled pork in zesty tomato barbecue sauces, grilled marinated chicken, Korean style short ribs, teriyaki beef and more. After all is said in done, it is Zinfandel that usually tastes the best with almost all the variations of barbecue...Continue »
The Lodi Wine Experience has come and gone, this past May 19-20, 2023. This, of course, was the yearly event formerly known as Lodi ZinFest, which went on hiatus after 2019 due to public health concerns.
The 2023 celebration at Lodi Lake Park began this past Friday night with a Signature Dinner: a joyful gathering of 500 vintners and wine lovers under two large tents under the stars, sipping the region's finest wines with farm-to-table cuisine. Weather and temperatures were perfecto, and everyone danced the night away to the irresistible rhythms of live music...Continue »
Mio Vigneto releases its first Lodi estate Ribolla Gialla while finishing its winery and visitor facility
Mio Vigneto, a Clements Hills-Lodi project that has taken about eight years to come to fruition in terms of commercial production, has just released its first wine: the 2022 Mio Vigneto Clements Hills-Lodi Ribolla Gialla ($29).
Ribolla Gialla is a varietal that, over the past fifteen or so years, has become one of the hottest white wines among consumers and sommeliers with a thirst for alternative style wines, often made from unfamiliar grapes. Ribolla Gialla may be new to you, but it is not considered unusual in its native region of Friuli, in Italy's northeastern corner, or in Slovenia where it is grown just across the border from Italy. There is documented proof of demand for wines made from this grape going back to the thirteenth century...Continue »
Earlier this month, the Lodi wine community bade sad farewell to Neal Overboe (1941-2023), one of the pioneers of the region's modern day wine industry. Mr. Overboe mentored a number of Lodi's top winemakers, including Joseph Smith (Klinker Brick Winery), Barry Gnekow (Barry Gnekow & Associates, Vertical Palate), and Tyson Rippey (Lodi Vintners and Rippey Family Vineyards). Rippey says, "Neal was a brilliant winemaker, friend and husband to his wife Barbara who passed away in 2017 after 53 years of marriage..."Continue »
Acclaimed winemakers and rarely seen producers among the wineries pouring at the 2023 Lodi Wine Experience
In 2023, however, the Grand Tasting will also feature a few producers who do not have tasting rooms in Lodi, or are based outside of the appellation—hence, tasting their wines, and being able to personally chat with their principals, owners or winemakers will be a rare and extraordinary opportunity indeed...Continue »