The LoCA Life & Times

In Lodi, wine comes first. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Meet the passionate people behind our handcrafted wines and gnarly old vines.

Randy Caparoso
June 15, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Part 2: The Wine Compass' opus on the unique, unusual and unconventional wines of Lodi

Wine Compass author Todd Godbout (center) with Snooth journalists and Lodi growers earlier in the spring at Vino Farms's Grand Vin Lands (a showcase of LODI RULES sustainable winegrowing)

Continuation from The Wine Compass’ opus on the long history and new iconic whites of Lodi (Part 1)

Is that all there is? -Peggy Lee

Much of the wine media, including almost everything you find in the blogosphere, is focused on same ol’, same ol’. Yeah, we know that French grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot noir produce great wines, which is why Americans, Australians, Chileans, Canadians, Texans, South Africans, and seemingly everyone else is the world is obsessed with producing pretty much the same kind of stuff.

But for wine scribes like Wine Compass’ Todd Godbout, this is just not enough. His curiosity leads to discovery of vinous joy in the most unsuspected (at least to anyone but Godbout) places...

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Time Posted: Jun 15, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
June 11, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

The Wine Compass' opus on the long history and new iconic whites of Lodi (Part 1)

Wine Compass founder/author Todd Godbout (front-right) enjoying 8-course/8-wine dinner at Lodi's M Sushi Bistro with fellow journalists this past May 2019

There are wine blogs and there are wine blogs. But how about one, called Wine Compass (est. 2005) that has endeavored to map out all the wineries, breweries, distilleries and cider tasting rooms in all 50 states of the U.S., plus Canada?

The Virginia based Wine Compass founder and author Todd Godbout is not only undaunted, he has also devised an iPhone or Android-compatible application in which you can locate most any producer of said alcoholic beverages by either name, map, radius search or zip code – at this writing, a total 18,387 of these establishments (and counting). Mr. Godbout has also posted notes on 35,865 different wines, spirits, beers or ciders over the years. He is definitely the Iron Man of the blogging industry, or at least his liver is made out of indestructible material...

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Time Posted: Jun 11, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
June 7, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Oak Farm's Fiano is further confirmation of Lodi's white wine grape versatility

Oak Farm Vineyards assistant winemaker Sierra Zeiter examining growth of Fiano clusters in early June 2019

One of the most promising new wines to recently come out of Lodi is the 2018 Oak Farm Vineyards Estate Grown Lodi Fiano ($26), especially if you – like more and more wine lovers – have been gravitating towards dryer and dryer white wines with fresh, palate zinging natural acidity. This wine absolutely sings with flowery, honeyed fragrances with suggestions of toasted nuts (think pecan, veering towards hazelnut or filbert), and its lemon/lime zestiness on the palate is cushioned by a silk-textured viscosity.

The question for many, of course, would be: Fiano... why Fiano? Fiano is one of the three most important white wine grapes of Italy’s Campania region (the other two being Greco and Falanghina). How important?

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Time Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 8:30 AM
Randy Caparoso
June 4, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Luiz Alberto on East vs. West - Terroir speaks louder than winemaking in Lodi

Luiz Alberto (front) with fellow visiting Snooth journalists in Lodi this past April (photo courtesy of Michelle Williams)

For this blog post, we are pleased to feature the words and impressions of a guest writer: Luiz Alberto, the Brazilian born, Boston based founder/author of The Wine Hub, one of the most popular multifaceted consumer-service sites on the web, where Mr. Alberto regularly plies his boots-on-the-ground international experiences to share his vinous pearls of wisdom.

Mr. Alberto, however, is not just another “blogger.” He’s also a dreamer and schemer, and a visionary and incendiary, of the highest order, on a global scale. Intrigued by the simple concept of wine bringing people of all walks of life together – and wine, after all, is the most social of beverages (it’s like coffee, but with the liberating touch of natural alcohol) – a few short years ago Alberto founded the #winelover community as a Web site and as a Facebook page, the latter now sporting over 23,400 followers or "members." On Instagram, as of this week, nearly 7 million images have been posted on the #winelover community page...

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Time Posted: Jun 4, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
May 28, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi 101 (for true-blue Lodi wine lovers)

Lodi wine lovers at 2019 Lodi ZinFest

Have you found yourself becoming a true-blue Lodi wine lover, almost to the point of some kind of geekiness?

Scary thought? Well, if you’ve come to love the gentle yet refreshingly pure and fruit-forward styles of Lodi grown wines... not just the sumptuous yet feminine Zinfandels, but also the pungently spiced Grenaches and earthy Tempranillos, the crisp and precise Albariños and Vermentinos, plus the sheer variety (everything from Aglianico to Barbera, Kerner to Piquepoul, Touriga to Zweigelt) being grown here...

If you’ve also become intrigued by the history of Lodi’s winegrowing industry – how most of it, for instance, is dominated by families who have been farming in the region as far back as the 1860s (the opposite of the “new money” feel of what passes for “wine country” these days) – not to mention the region’s “small town” charm and earnest hospitality...

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Time Posted: May 28, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
May 23, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

2019 ZinFest Blind Tasting: How Lodi Zinfandels compare to some of California’s finest

Round 1 (of 3) wines in ZinFest Zinfandel Blind Tasting (special thanks to Suzanne Ledbetter for photos in this article)

The 2019 Zinfandel Blind Tasting – taking place on May 17, the Friday before the ZinFest Wine Festival – was meant to be a study of ancient vine Zinfandels from not just Lodi, but also some of the most prestigious vineyards in the rest of California. While nearly 40% of California Zinfandel is grown in Lodi, regions like Sonoma County and Napa Valley have long (and justifiably) been considered the finest in the state.

But when we say “finest,” what do we mean? Is it the biggest Zinfandels with the ripest varietal fruit expressions? Or does “finest” mean more finely balanced, subtle styles of Zinfandel – lighter wines, less ripe, maybe even the opposite of “big.” Like the concept of beauty, how each of us defines the “finest” among wines always comes from the eye of the beholder. As well it should...

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Time Posted: May 23, 2019 at 4:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
May 15, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

15 wines that will rock your world at this Saturday's 2019 ZinFest Wine Festival

2019’s weather, we expect, will be a little chill (calling for a high of 63°), and there’s a chance of drizzle, but we’ve seen that before at Lodi’s yearly ZinFest Wine Festival; and everytime, everyone still had a grand ol’ time mastering of the art of sipping wine while balancing an umbrella or wrap.

It’s highly unlikely that it will be “Woodstock wet,” but no one was complaining about that little get-together either.

While not a rose garden, one thing we can promise is that, like our most recent ZinFests, you will be sure to find a plethora of wines that just might rock your world...

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Time Posted: May 15, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
May 9, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Why ancient vines are so wise, and you should not miss ZinFest’s phenomenal Zinfandel Blind Tasting

Majestic 100-plus-year-old Zinfandel in Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA

As part of Lodi’s 2019 ZinFest, there will be a Zinfandel Blind Tasting taking place at 2 PM on May 17 in the Wine & Roses Hotel Ballroom. We are also calling this event: A Study of Ancient Vine Zinfandels of California.

The blind tasting will be led by a panel of three unimpeachable wine pundits: Mike Dunne (former longtime wine columnist of The Sacramento Bee), Steve Eliot (Editor of the authoritative Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine), and Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis (Planet Grape®, Grape Goddess®, and author of the hot selling “Ten Grapes to Know”). These experts, incidentally, will be tasting the wines blind right along with the audience (so it will be the blind leading the blind, letting the wines themselves do most of the talking!)...

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Time Posted: May 9, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
May 6, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

The 100 (plus!) grapes of Lodi

2018 harvesting of Kerner grapes (producing, crisp, minerally, floral dry whites) in Lodi's Mokelumne Glen Vineyards

If anything, the Lodi Viticultural Area is prolific. We now count over 125 grape varieties planted in the region; all variations of Vitis vinifera, belonging to the original European family or species of wine grapes.

Why Lodi? Simply put, this is where the California wine industry sources most of the grapes going into wines sold for $10 and under, which is about 74% of all the wine sold in the U.S.

Needless to say, Lodi also furnishes a huge percentage of grapes going into premium priced (anything above $10) California wines. The wide variety of specialty wine grapes cultivated by Lodi growers such as Bokisch Ranches, Ripken Vineyards, Mohr-Fry RanchesSilvaspoons Vineyards, Vino Farms and others supply both giant producers (such as E. & J. Gallo, Constellation Brands, Trinchero Family Estates and Fetzer Vineyards) and the tiniest boutique wineries (The Scholium Project, Leaf and Vine, Odisea/Cochon, Loma Prieta, Michael Klouda, etc.), and wineries of all sizes in between (Bonny Doon Vineyards, Neyers, Michael David, Jeff Runquist, et al.)...

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Time Posted: May 6, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
May 2, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Direct influence of east vs. west side terroirs on the taste of Lodi Zinfandels

Lodi Winegrape Commission's Stephanie Bolton with cluster of 2018 Steacy Ranch Zinfandel (planted in 1907) on Mokelumne River-Lodi's east side

The French call it terroir – a “sense of place” reflecting each vineyard’s unique soil, climate, aspect and overall topography, which is reflected on how vines grow, their resulting grape clusters, and ultimately in the wines coming from those grapes.

Terroir explains why wines from certain vineyards and regions have sensory qualities that are different from wines grown in other vineyards and regions. And yes, there are terroir related distinctions in the wines of Lodi – even those made from grapes as familiar to us as Zinfandel...

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Time Posted: May 2, 2019 at 1:00 PM