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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
 
March 22, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

The past, present and future usages of head trained vines in Lodi

Classic 8-spur head trained vine in Burness Vineyard on the east side of Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA

In the 1850s and 1860s, when pioneering growers first began planting wine grapes in Sonoma County, Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountain area, Amador County and, of course, the Lodi Viticultural Area, they planted their vines as free-standing plants – with no trellis wires, just one supportive stake per vine – in a fashion known as "gobelet."

Gobelet literally translates as “goblet,” in reference to the virtual shape of the vine: classically, a trunk topped at no more than a foot or two from the ground, crowned by eight (give or take) “spurs,” which are shortened canes kept as permanent arms positioned around the top (i.e. “head”) of the trunk. In this style of cultivation – said to date back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans yet still commonly practiced throughout Southern France and Spain – most of each year’s growth is pruned back during winter months, leaving buds or nodes at the top of each spur for the growth of typically two new canes in early spring...

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Time Posted: Mar 22, 2019 at 7:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 20, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Spring, glorious spring in Lodi wine country!

Spring pruning of old vine Zinfandel in Stampede Vineyard (Clements Hills-Lodi AVA)

Okay, so it’s still a little gray out there, and the ground has not yet completely dried up from the winter rains (but hey, water!), on the first day of spring – or the vernal equinox (as of Wednesday, March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere), when day and night are just about equal in length – here in Lodi wine country.

But if you look closely, buds are just beginning to break out in the fields and vines, and in our annual bushes and trees. That means something, doesn’t it? It’s a yearly reconfirmation of life, just when we thought winter would never end (or rather, as it’s often seemed in recent years, just when we were wondering if we somehow overslept and missed “winter” completely)...

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Time Posted: Mar 20, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 14, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Sacramento Bee’s Mike Dunne shares honest feedback on Lodi's latest wines

The Sacramento Bee's Mike Dunne, judging in The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition's sweepstakes round (photo courtesy of Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Mike Dunne is one of those newspapermen whose unimpeachable creds as a published wine pundit were established roughly in the Stone Age. That is, when The Rolling Stones were still considered a voice of “youth” (who knows what you should call them now).

Mr. Dunne officially “retired” from The Sacramento Bee in 2008 after working for this flagship McClatchy daily as a food editor, restaurant critic and wine columnist for some 30 years. But like the Stones, he just never goes away. Instead, he continues to regularly file his impeccably composed “Dunne on Wine” columns at the Bee, covering every conceivable wine region from Washington and Oregon to Chile and Australia, every nook and cranny of California and much of the “old country” in Europe as well. His interests, and therefore insights and erudite commentary, are decidedly global. Plus, as a professional wine judge, Mr. Dunne’s services are in demand up and down the West Coast, and beyond (for a short time, Dunne also served as head judge for the venerable California State Fair)...

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Time Posted: Mar 14, 2019 at 8:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 12, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Mountain Tides succeeds with one grape (Petite Sirah), inaugurated with Clements Hills-Lodi fruit

Mountain Tides winemaker/owner Scott Kirkpatrick at Clements Hills-Lodi's Viñedos Aurora Vineyard

There are plenty of American wineries founded with the intention of specializing in one grape, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir or Zinfandel. There is a much smaller handful hanging their hats on grapes like Tempranillo, Syrah, Mourvèdre or Grenache. But Petite Sirah? That may take some guts.

And there is one, based in Napa, sourcing most of its Petite Sirah fruit from... Lodi!

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Time Posted: Mar 12, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
March 8, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Why half of LODI RULES sustainable vineyards are now located outside of Lodi

View of Vino Farms' Grand Vin Lands - a showcase LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing vineyard - through one of its meticulously cultivated, bio-diverse insectories

Lodi is known for its heritage Zinfandel and, increasingly, its huge diversity of grapes and wines (over 100 commercially grown varieties, by recent count). Where else in California can you say, for instance, you can find more brands of Albariño and Tempranillo than Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon?

You can also think of the Lodi Viticultural Area’s place in the American wine grape industry in the same way you think of Salinas Valley, which is often called the nation’s “salad bowl.” Salinas Valley doesn’t grow all of the country’s lettuce, spinach and broccoli, but it easily grows more of that than any other single agricultural region...

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Time Posted: Mar 8, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
February 26, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

New things (and incredible values) afoot at Oak Ridge Winery

Oak Ridge Winery's new, talented winemaker Noel Basso, with one of the few remaining old vine Zinfandels planted by Rudy Maggio in 1952

There are a few new things afoot at Lodi’s Oak Ridge Winery, which is good news for wine lovers who appreciate a good $10, $12, $16 or $18 wine. And who in their right mind doesn’t appreciate a good $10 to $18 wine? Man does not live by fancy-schmancy $100 wine alone.

While Oak Ridge Winery was founded in 2002, its Lodi ties go back a long ways. The winery sits on the10-acre site of the old East-Side Winery, one of Lodi’s historic old co-ops once operated by as many as over 100 growers at a time, specializing in fortified sweet wines (which was what most of America drank when it came to “wine” up until the late ‘60s). Today, the historic feel of Oak Ridge Winery is reinforced by a visit to the winery’s tasting room, which is housed in a beautiful 50,000-gallon redwood tank that used to be part of the long-defunct Roma Wine Co. facility located across the street...

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Time Posted: Feb 26, 2019 at 4:15 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
February 20, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Do Lodi Zinfandels age? Frank talk over old wines with legendary winemakers

Tasting of pristinely fresh 34-year-old (left) and 24-year-old Lodi Zinfandels

There is an old adage in the industry, oft-repeated by the usual pundits: California Zinfandels do not age.

Not that Zinfandels fall completely apart after, say, 10 or 15 years in the bottle. But rather, that they just don’t get any “better,” or more enjoyable, than when they are usually consumed, less than 5 years after their vintage date. The biggest concern is that all those bright, berryish, often “jammy” fruit qualities that Zinfandel drinkers love simply start to fade once the wines get old, and all you have left is, say, the harsh taste of high alcohol (a legitimate fear, since even the lightest commercial Zinfandels of today are at least 15% alcohol) or the drying taste of oak (especially Zinfandels aged in American oak barrels, which are not exactly known for their subtlety).

Ergo: The recommendation given even by most wine producers, that Zinfandel is best drunk when they are young, or pretty much as soon as they hit the market.

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Time Posted: Feb 20, 2019 at 4:30 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
February 14, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Huge diversity of wines and love, love, love rules during Lodi's 2019 Wine & Chocolate Weekend

2019 Lodi Wine & Chocolate festivities at m2 Wines

Happy Valentine’s Day from Lodi wine country!

For our photographic memories of this past weekend’s 22nd Annual Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend (February 9-10, 2019), we asked local online marketing specialist Frances Siria – who applies her multifaceted talents to her own Signature Online Marketing company – to memorialize some of her favorite moments...

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Time Posted: Feb 14, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Randy Caparoso
 
February 7, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Latest statistics reflect steady movement towards premium (and redder) wines

Wine lovers in Lodi's Clements Hills AVA

In her yearly summary of the latest statistical reports, Dr. Liz Thach MW, who teaches at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, describes the state of the American wine industry in 2019 as “Slowing but Steady, and Craving Innovation” (our italics).

Somewhat alarming, perhaps, to Lodi Viticultural Area grape growers – who supply a whopping 20% of the California wine grape crop each year (while California produces about 60% of all wine sold in the U.S., according to beveragedaily.com) – is the fact that, to quote Dr. Thach, “after 24 years of continuous growth in wine consumption the U.S. market slowed to only 1.2% in volume in 2018” (in previous years, the growth has been closer to the +2% range).

Nonetheless, says Dr. Thach, Americans, “desire higher quality wine and are spending more per bottle.” The professor cites recent sales reports showing that wines priced at $11.99-$19.99 retail has grown by 8% in volume over the past year, while wines priced at $10 or under are showing zero growth – indicative of the fact “that premiumization continued to thrive during 2018...”

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Time Posted: Feb 7, 2019 at 6:00 AM
Randy Caparoso
 
February 4, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Favorite wine/chocolate matches from Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekends past

Zinfandel and chocolate lover at Macchia Wines tasting room during Wine & Chocolate Weekend

The wines of Lodi, perhaps more than that of any other wine region, are known for their round, gentle, fruit-forward qualities, which are intrinsic to the appellation’s mild Mediterranean climate and grape-friendly soils.

But another big reason why Lodi’s annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend attracts both seasoned and burgeoning wine lovers alike from near and far is the fact that everywhere you go, all the Lodi wineries are serving food, which is good for the body and great for the palate since the taste of wine is always amplified by dishes – especially when the match is juuust right!

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Time Posted: Feb 4, 2019 at 7:00 AM