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.
Mikami Vineyards continues to forge its identity by rolling with the flow of its provenance
After 15 commercial vintages, Mikami Vineyards is still a tiny brand. Current total production barely tops 500 cases. By comparison, most Lodi wineries falling in the "small" category produce a few thousand cases. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi winery churns out several million.
Still, Mikami Vineyards' first vintage, a 2008 estate grown Zinfandel, totaled just 50 cases. Modest progress has been made. The important thing, as owner/grower Jason Mikami recently told us, is, "We still sell out everything we make... we feel lucky to have such a loyal following..."Continue »
Acclaimed wine scribe Alder Yarrow tells the story of California's geekiest vineyard—Lodi's Mokelumne Glen
Alder Yarrow, the author of Vinography, has just published the longest profile of a single Lodi grape grower ever written. At least as far as we know.
The story is on Mokelumne Glen Vineyards, established on the east side of Lodi's Mokelumne River appellation by the late Bob and Mary Lou Koth. Over the past two years the vineyard has been managed by their children, Brett and Ann-Marie Koth.
It's a heroic tale because the vineyard is planted to over 55 grape varieties of German and Austrian origin. Some would call that lunacy, given that Lodi's Mediterranean climate is not supposed to be conducive to more northerly European grapes. All the same, the vineyard has a track record of producing delicious wines that have impressed even internationally traveled, and acclaimed, wine journalists such as Mr. Yarrow. Clearly, in the great, big world of grapes and wines, there is such a thing as suspension of disbelief; that is to say, just "shut up and enjoy..."Continue »
Tiny Christopher Cellars has emerged as a leader among Lodi's latest, handcraft, minimal intervention style wineries
This past March 4, 2023, Chris and Candice Mora celebrated their third year of doing business as owner/winemakers of Christopher Cellars, based in Elk Grove, about half-way between the City of Lodi and Downtown Sacramento.
Christopher Cellars is a small winery—currently producing just 3,000 cases yearly, putting them in a "boutique," or handcraft, category—but has dramatically grown in significance for two good reasons...Continue »
Peltier's new winemakers introduce innovations to an already innovative winery
Zante, the new baby
The Schatz family, one of the Lodi appellation's most important growers, has done it again. Or shall we say, twice again: They have landed not one, but two extremely talented winemakers, with impeccable credentials, to lead the production operations of the family's Peltier Winery & Vineyards.
Both winemakers—Head Winemaker Gianni Abate, and Associate Winemaker Bryce Willingham—came aboard just before the 2022 vintage, and took off with a running start. They have just released a brand new, and quite original, Peltier bottling called the Peltier Winery Zante ($18)...Continue »
All the details you need on San Joaquin Delta College's Wine Hospitality courses in spring 2023
Here is the lowdown on the two San Joaquin Delta College wine courses in Stockton, which will begin in the third week of March 2023:
Wine Regions of California (Culinary Arts 85)
Begins Monday, March 20, ends May 8, 2023
Classes are Monday nights, 6:00-8:50 PM
Evaluation of Wine (Culinary Arts 82)
Begins Tuesday, March 21, ends May 9, 2023
Classes are Tuesday nights, 6:00-8:50 PM
To sign up, please visit San Joaquin Delta College's Wine Hospitality page. There are no prerequisites, the courses are open to all adults at least 21 years of age. For any and all questions you might have, even after visiting the Delta College website, do not hesitate to contact instructor Fred Swan directly at fred.swan@deltacollege...Continue »
Reports of the imminent demise of the American wine industry are greatly exaggerated
The American Wine Industry Has an Old People Problem. That was the title of an article published by The New York Times this past January 31, 2023, authored by the newspaper's widely followed wine correspondent Eric Asimov.
By "old people," the Times was wryly referring to Americans over 60 years old, a demographic that recent statistics show is the only segment of the wine market that is currently purchasing and consuming more wine—especially premium quality/priced wine—with any degree of significance...Continue »
Delineations of Mediterranean climate in Lodi and the rest of the world
Olive trees and old vines thriving in the quintessential Mediterranean climate and deep, rich sandy loam soils—conducive to healthy root systems contributing to plant health and longevity—of Lodi's Mokelumne River appellation.
A long, long time ago, when dinosaurs shook the earth (back in the mid-1970s), I read an article by legendary winemaker Dr. Richard Peterson, answering a question about what is most important to the quality of grapes and subsequent wines: Is it climate, or is it soil?
Dr. Peterson's contention was (and still is, I suppose) that climate is the most important factor. For high quality winegrowing, you need at the very least a climate conducive to wine grapes, which can grow well even in less than ideal soil types. On the other hand, you can have the best possible soil to grow grapes, but without an appropriate climate you'll never produce a good wine...Continue »
Common misperceptions of Lodi Zinfandel and other errant information on Lodi found online
You should never believe everything you find online. That goes for just about everything, but especially for wine. There is so much misinformation about wine floating around the internet like the garbage all across the world's oceans, I really don't where to begin.
But since this is a blog brought to you courtesy of Lodi winegrowers, let's just address some of the things you find about Lodi wines on, as many senior citizens like to call it, "the Google"—that wonderful, modern day substitute for what we used to rely on for information, those quaint and nostalgic objects called "books..."Continue »
How acclaimed wine author Mike Dunne introduces Lodi to the world
At long last, there is a book that tells the story behind the appellations, vineyards, wines and historic figures of the Sierra Foothills, Lodi, the California Delta and Yolo County. It is called The Signature Wines of Superior California, which is composed by former longtime Sacramento Bee wine editor Mike Dunne.
The regions identified by Mr. Dunne as "Superior California" has been this reporter's journalistic beat for over 50 years, which is a long time in comparison to most living American wine journalists. Yet Dunne's perspective, as anyone familiar with his articles well knows, has always been global. He sees, and evaluates, all wines in terms of international standards or comparisons...Continue »
Dangerously easy fun at Lodi's 2023 Wine & Chocolate celebration
"Dangerously easy to drink" is the way popular wine blogger Hannah Spiegel (find her on vinoforbreakfast.com and @vinoforbreakfast on Instagram) described the uniquely dark and delicious Bourdon Sparkling Syrah she tasted at the 2023 Lodi Wine & Chocolate Brunch, this past Sunday, February 5th at the luxurious Wine & Roses Hotel.
You could, in fact, describe most of the wines produced in the Lodi appellation in exactly this way. It is the region's Mediterranean climate and rich yet eminently grape-friendly soils that naturally grows this style of wine: consistently round, smooth and pungently aromatic in a fresh and intense fruit-forward fashion...Continue »