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 12, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Viticultural consultant Stan Grant talks about Lodi growers' "quiet revolution"

Stan Grant of Progressive Viticulture

Lodi has become synonymous with generous, expressive wines; many readily available at exceptional, value-range prices, and more and more of them crafted by smaller specialty producers in classic artisanal styles. None of this came out of nowhere. It represents a culmination of labors, organization and advances generated primarily in Lodi's vineyards, which now add up to easily the largest acreage of premium wine grapes in the U.S.

Vineyard consultant Stan Grant has played a small part in this growth; enough to be able to articulate it, at least from a viticultural perspective. We met with him last week (early December 2016) in Den Hartog International Farms – a vineyard owned and farmed by Pieter Den Hartog, located in the north-west corner of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA...

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Time Posted: Dec 12, 2016 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Viticultural consultant Stan Grant talks about Lodi growers' Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 7, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Aaron Shinn foresees a bright future for Lodi winegrowing

Lodi vineyard manager Aaron Shinn

One of the most highly regarded, and more forward thinking, of the Lodi Viticultural Area’s winegrowers is Aaron Shinn: Vineyard Manager for Round Valley Ranches, one of the region’s largest vineyard management companies; and owner of his own management firm, Shinn Farms.

Like any vineyard manager, Mr. Shinn’s talents are measured by results. For instance, Chad Joseph, the vaunted winemaker of note at Oak Farm Vineyards as well as Harney Lane Winery, described Shinn’s work as “energy, passion and knowledge.” Joseph elaborates by saying, “A lot of growers have the knowledge, but very few have the energy and passion it takes to attend to all the little details necessary to grow grapes with the potential to produce world class wine...

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Time Posted: Dec 7, 2016 at 1:00 PM Permalink to Aaron Shinn foresees a bright future for Lodi winegrowing Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 2, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Rippey Family wines embody everything wonderful and innovative about Lodi

Rippey Family Vineyards' Tyson Rippey

The Rippey Family Signature

Even most true-blue Lodi wine lovers have yet to catch on to Rippey Family Vineyards, who produce and show their wines at the site of Lodi Vintners, north of the City of Lodi (technically in the CDP of Acampo) along the railroad tracks where they are bisected by Woodbridge Rd. This is a historic spot, dating back to 1900. It is here that Urgon Winery was built to serve as Lodi’s first growers’ cooperative, in response to monopolistic prices set by El Pinal Winery, which dominated the San Joaquin Valley wine industry at the turn of the last century...

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Time Posted: Dec 2, 2016 at 1:40 PM Permalink to Rippey Family wines embody everything wonderful and innovative about Lodi Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 28, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Poetry in early Lodi autumn mornings

There is nothing like a late November walk through Lodi vineyards at the break of dawn; when vines are shrouded in ghostly fog, over a lush, green carpet soaked in numbing dew (waterproof boots recommended).

From afar, the dying leaves on the vines might look depressing – curled up or burnt crisp, another year of life on the wane – but up close, each leaf might also beguile the senses. As poets are apt to put it, there is beauty in death; particularly in cloaks of yellow, flames of orange, or rivers of blood-red color on gnarled spurs and trunks of more ancient vines. Who doesn’t find joy in such loud and violent cacophony?

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Time Posted: Nov 28, 2016 at 5:00 AM Permalink to Poetry in early Lodi autumn mornings Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 20, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

The best wines with turkey

Can we talk?

Ready for the one-hundred-millionth article on what wines to serve with your Thanksgiving turkey? Heck, we’ve composed a good half-dozen ourselves; and yes, we always recommend Lodi grown wines – but for real, practical reasons, not just wishful thinking.

This fact, to begin with: the beloved turkey is as bland a centerpiece as anyone could possibly choose for a meal considered to be the meal of meals in American life. Why do you think, other than the occasional turkey sandwiches or carnival drumstick, the vast majority of us eat turkey only once a year? It’s not like, every other weekend, we can’t wait to get home and pop a turkey in the oven. We eat, or enjoy, turkey mostly under duress.

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Time Posted: Nov 20, 2016 at 3:00 AM Permalink to The best wines with turkey Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 18, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Meet Wendy Brannen, Lodi Winegrape Commission's new Executive Director

Wendy Brannen, Lodi Winegrape Commission's new Executive Director

This past October Wendy Brannen crossed the country from her longtime home in Washington D.C. to Lodi to assume her new position as Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission – the organization representing more than 750 winegrape growers and 85 wineries in the Lodi American Viticulture Area, a large number of them belonging to families who have farmed in the region for over 50, 100, or even 150 years...

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Time Posted: Nov 18, 2016 at 6:00 AM Permalink to Meet Wendy Brannen, Lodi Winegrape Commission's new Executive Director Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 17, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi Winegrape Commission Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

The last five years have seen a tremendous swell of support and recognition for the Lodi wine region, most notable being the receipt of the coveted title of 2015 Wine Region of the Year from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. This success could not have happened, however, without the dedication and vision of the region's winegrowers and the grower-established and funded Lodi Winegrape Commission. Lodi's winegrowers are what sets the region apart and truly makes it special. In Lodi, there is an intense sense of cooperation among its winegrowers and the non-competitive belief that "a rising tide lifts all boats."  Continue »

Time Posted: Nov 17, 2016 at 10:06 AM Permalink to Lodi Winegrape Commission Celebrates its 25th Anniversary Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 15, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

A Lucas family Lodi Thanksgiving

Mitra and David Lucas (the father/daughter team behind The Lucas Winery)

Mitra Lucas – the “owner and daughter” of Lodi's The Lucas Winery and its founder/grower David Lucas – has many fond holiday memories growing up in this groundbreaking, certified organic estate, established the year she was born in 1978.

Ms. Lucas tells us: “The Lucas family’s Thanksgiving tradition has always been to invite more family and friends to dinner than we could possibly have room for. And so, since 1978, we have always held Thanksgiving dinner in our old barn which would transform, for one magical evening, into an exquisite dining hall filled with music, warm food, and the comfort of family and friends...

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Time Posted: Nov 15, 2016 at 6:00 AM Permalink to A Lucas family Lodi Thanksgiving Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 7, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

What the Lodi Rules seal means on a bottle and to the Lodi community

Lodi grower Dave Devine's Lodi Rules certified L.D.L. Vineyard Zinfandel planting in Lodi's Clements Hills

Here at the end of 2016 – a year marking 25 years of existence for the Lodi Winegrape Commission – we cannot let the year go by without talking about a crowning signature achievement of this association of over 800 growers and wineries: Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing; first conceived and developed during the 1990s, and officially launched in 2005.

One of the surest marks of quality that you can find on a bottle of Lodi grown wine is the “Certified Green” seal, usually found on back labels, signifying it has been made from grapes passing a rigorous, third-party audited and certified process...

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Time Posted: Nov 7, 2016 at 6:00 AM Permalink to What the Lodi Rules seal means on a bottle and to the Lodi community Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 3, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

The quintessential Lodi Zinfandel and ideal artisanal cheese matches

Essence of Lodi: vintages of St. Amant Marian's Vineyard Zinfandel

The Quintessential Lodi Zinfandel

Lodi is known for Zinfandel. There is more of this grape grown here than anywhere else; untold numbers of acres of this classic Vitis vinifera lovingly cultivated by multiple generations of families for over 50, 75, or even 100 years.

So what is the quintessential Lodi Zinfandel? Lodi may have a Mediterranean climate similar to that of Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, the Sierra Foothills and other California regions, but deep sandy loam soils – particularly in the historic Mokelumne River Viticultural Area surrounding the City of Lodi – and slightly narrower diurnal swings (cool nights that are not quite as cold, and fewer days of searing 100-degree heat) generally result in softer, more gentle, somewhat flowery, red fruit centered styles of Zinfandel, with variations of earthy undertones...

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Time Posted: Nov 3, 2016 at 8:00 AM Permalink to The quintessential Lodi Zinfandel and ideal artisanal cheese matches Permalink

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