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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 5, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

The 12 interesting Lodi-grown wines of 2022

Palmero Family Vineyard Chenin blanc harvest in the Borden Ranch appellation, producing one of Lodi's most interesting wines.

How do you choose the past year's 12 best Lodi-grown wines? You can't. There are now more terrific Lodi wines than you can shake a stick at.

You can, however, choose 12 of the more interesting wines of Lodi. Wines that are making waves for being slightly different than what a Lodi wine lover would have found just, say, five or ten years ago.

To asemble this kind of list, I have to put on my "wine geek" cap. It is, after all, my job as the resident wine investigator to know the individual vineyards, the local growers, the peculiarities of both individual winemakers and the more than 100 grapes grown here in Lodi. I have to know, in other words, where the bodies are buried...

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Time Posted: Dec 5, 2022 at 8:00 AM Permalink to The 12 interesting Lodi-grown wines of 2022 Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 30, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

Why Lodi is a verdant paradise for grapes, not a parched Central Valley desert

Overhead photo of Lodi wine festival in Lodi Lake Park, located along the Mokelumne River, the namesake of the appellation originally farmed by the region's pioneers, starting in the late 1840s.

One of the reasons why the Lodi AVA (i.e., American Viticultural Area) still has a hard time being taken seriously by many of the wine cognoscenti is the region's persistent association with the rest of the Central Valley. It is always amazing, in fact, when you meet Napa or Sonoma-based wine industry professionals who still believe that Lodi grapes are grown in a desert—presumably, just like the rest of the Central Valley.

Yet there is nothing about Lodi that suggests a desert. If anything, everything about Lodi is about water. Lots and lots of water...

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Time Posted: Nov 30, 2022 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Why Lodi is a verdant paradise for grapes, not a parched Central Valley desert Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 28, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

Wine aromas, part 2—On olfaction, the discipline of identifying wine aromas

Visiting wine influencer/journalist Sam Capaldi (@samanthasommelier) tasting Lodi-grown Carignan just plucked from the vine and from the glass.

Continued from A definition of wine aromas

When I was a 21-year-old restaurant sommelier (45 years ago) I honed my craft like many others—through constant blind or double-blind tastings. Something I rarely do these days except in occasional professional wine judgings.

Youth will be served, but sometimes it takes an “older guy” to show you the ropes. I have good memories of one named Dave, with whom I especially enjoyed challenges as a 20-something. I would say to Dave, “This Zinfandel has a real fresh berryishness.” He’d look at me with a pained expression and ask, “What do you mean? There are all kinds of berries—there are blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, currants, elderberries, gooseberries, and on and on, and none of them really smell the same.” Of course I’d be stumped, because as a 21 year old who grew up in Hawai`i, I had zero experience with half the berries he was talking about...

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Time Posted: Nov 28, 2022 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Wine aromas, part 2—On olfaction, the discipline of identifying wine aromas Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 21, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

Why Lodi's Cinsaut may be the single finest wine for Thanksgiving tables

Are you ready for a 100 millionth article on wines for Thanksgiving? We like to think ours is special because, well, we recommend Lodi-grown wines. Which tends to mean two different things:

1. Exceptional value, a byproduct of sourcing from the country's largest winegrowing region.

2. Fruit-forward qualities, which are byproducts of the region's steady Mediterranean climate and largely sandy loam soils (at least half of Lodi's grapes grown in alluvium laid down over thousands of years in the Mokelumne River watershed).

"Fruit-forward" gives any wine a huge leg up when it comes to Thanksgiving. Of course, we are talking mostly about the grand old tradition of turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry, buttery mashed potatoes and vegetable casseroles—the gustatory cacophony of foods, enjoyed with cherished family and friends, that we Americans look forward to each year...

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Time Posted: Nov 21, 2022 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Why Lodi's Cinsaut may be the single finest wine for Thanksgiving tables Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 17, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

Marking National Zinfandel Day with a history of the grape in Lodi

Zinfandel harvested from a 1940s block along the Mokelumne River in Lodi's Clements Hills appellation.

Today, November 17, is National Zinfandel Day.

Every day, of course, is a good day for Zinfandel in Lodi. There are more acres of Zinfandel in the Lodi appellation than in any other region in California, and Lodi crushes over 40% of the state's production each year.

Why Lodi? Because Lodi's Mediterranean climate, with its consistently bright, warm days and cool nights all through the growing season, is naturally conducive to Zinfandel. The grape loves the Lodi sun!

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Time Posted: Nov 17, 2022 at 10:00 AM Permalink to Marking National Zinfandel Day with a history of the grape in Lodi Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 15, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

A definition of wine aromas

 Vivid images typically triggered by the scent of peppercorns, even in wine: pepper grinders in a restaurant, peppercorn salmon from the grill, wines made from the Grenache grape, or a culinary experience in an exotic place in Southeast Asia.

The term "aroma" is pretty much self-evident: It is the smell of wine derived from grapes. 

In an older, snobbier or geekier interpretation, aroma used to be distinguished from "bouquet"—the latter term, meant to distinguish smells in wine that result from bottle maturation. The vast majority of consumers buy a bottle of wine in the afternoon and drink it that night. They could give a hoot about "bouquet."

Therefore, in actual practice, aroma is used to describe any smell originating from grapes used to produce wines. These are smells resulting from the fermentation process, which also evolve after a little bit of time in a bottle... 

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Time Posted: Nov 15, 2022 at 9:00 AM Permalink to A definition of wine aromas Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 10, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

A definition of minerality in wines

Haarmeyer Wine Cellars owner/winemaker Craig Haarmeyer showing his love for Chenin blanc, a grape picked with high enough acidity in Lodi's Borden Ranch appellation to produce a dry white that is light and crisp with citrus and mineral sensations.

Minerality as a trending taste in American wines

Minerality—or the suggestion or outright expression of mineral or earth-related attributes in wine—is an elusive taste, as are all of the more subtle perceptions of wine.

If anything, the use of the term "minerality," bandied about more and more each year, represents a recent shift in consumer tastes, particularly among American wine lovers. When I first visited Germany over 25 years ago, seemingly every German winemaker described their wines as combinations of fruits, flowers and minerals. Minerality was a common expression because the taste of minerals is commonly associated with Rieslings grown in German vineyards; and the Germans love to talk about how each vineyard, especially those grown on the steepest, rockiest riverside slopes, imparts its own variation of a taste suggesting minerals...

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Time Posted: Nov 10, 2022 at 9:00 AM Permalink to A definition of minerality in wines Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 3, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

A practical definition of terroir

Süss Vineyard, a small architecture, 90-plus-year-old, gobelet trained, own-rooted vine grown in the low-vigor sandy soil of Lodi's Clements Hills AVA, producing a distinctively fragrant, notably high acid style of Zinfandel unique to the appellation.

It's hard to believe that as self-evident it may seem to many wine lovers, there are actually many professionals in the wine industry, and even educational institutions, who do not believe terroir exists, or that it is important in the business of wine production or wine appreciation as it exists today.

Let's start with the premise that there is such a thing as terroir, and then afterwards, touch a little upon the perspectives of naysayers...

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Time Posted: Nov 3, 2022 at 8:00 AM Permalink to A practical definition of terroir Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 1, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

2022 Lodi Tour of Tempranillo, the varietal's history and what makes Lodi's style so unique

Spanish selection of Tempranillo grown in Bokisch's Las Cerezas Vineyard in Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA.

Prepare thyself for Lodi's annual Tour of Tempranillo; 2022's iteration taking place the weekend of November 12-13, timed to follow International Tempranillo Day (November 10, 2022).

As in the past, the 2022 Lodi Tour of Tempranillo will be a no-reservations-required, complimentary drive-around event. This year, 10 Lodi wineries will be opening their doors to offer special tastings, many of them with multi-bottling flights, Spanish inspired food bites and weekend-only-discounts (see some of the details for each winery at the end). All you need do is show up and say, ¡olé!

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Time Posted: Nov 1, 2022 at 8:00 AM Permalink to 2022 Lodi Tour of Tempranillo, the varietal's history and what makes Lodi's style so unique Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
October 26, 2022 | Randy Caparoso

Napa-based winemaking couple behind Found Wine Co. explain why they source Lodi grapes

Found Wine Co. owner/winemakers Andy Butler and Mabel Ojeda after collecting 2022 Mission grape samples in Lodi's Somers Vineyard.

"There's something happening here" has been a line copped from the 56-year-old Buffalo Springfield song, For What It's Worth—even the young folks know this tune because of its iconic opening chord progressions of electric and acoustic guitars—by the Lodi Winegrape Commission to bring attention to the "revolutionary" side of the historic Lodi winegrowing region.

The Lodi AVA, to sum it all up, is all about grapes. Lots of grapes. Far more acreage than any other wine region in the U.S.; and on top of that, more variety of grapes than any other region...

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Time Posted: Oct 26, 2022 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Napa-based winemaking couple behind Found Wine Co. explain why they source Lodi grapes Permalink
Contact

Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
209.365.0621
Open: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
209.367.4727
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

Have a question? Complete our contact form.