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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 28, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Predicted wine trends for 2024—from the Lodi perspective

Sorting grapes from an ancient vine Mokelumne River-Lodi harvest.

It's that time of year when we start to talk about the most significant wine trends to expect in 2024. 

At the end of this past November, for instance, the Benson Marketing Group came out with 6 Wine Industry Trends You Can't Ignore in 2024. Their first prediction: "The no-alcohol or low-alcohol wine craze continues." Question is, for whom? Wine lovers certainly don't drink non-alcohol wines, and they never will, unless ordered by their doctors. 

The Benson group suggests that alcohol-free beverages are being driven by Millennials and Gen Z consumers seeking "healthier lifestyles and more mindful consumption." Clearly, though, this piece of information is neither here nor there for consumers who currently drink wine, and means nothing to wineries that make their living anticipating what actual wine drinkers want...

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Time Posted: Dec 28, 2023 at 5:00 AM Permalink to Predicted wine trends for 2024—from the Lodi perspective Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
December 21, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

For last-minute shopping and wine education, visit Certified Sommelier Paul Marsh at the Lodi Wine Visitor Center

The Lodi Wine Visitor Center retail store and tasting bar. Stephanie Russo Photography.

There may be just three more shopping days until Christmas, but no reason to panic. Especially for the Lodi wine connoisseurs in your life. 

Because there is still a one-stop place to find absolutely the finest Lodi grown wines there are to buy: the Lodi Wine Visitor Center located in Lodi at 2545 W. Turner Road.

If you've visited Lodi's Visitor Center—owned by Lodi Winegrape Commisison, the association of over 700 regional wine grape growers—you know that it operates not just as a retail shop but also as a tasting bar.

But if you haven't been to the Lodi Visitor Center since 2021, what you may not know is that the selections of wines themselves are more discerning than ever—virtually every bottle on the shelf a shining example of what distinguishes Lodi as an appellation...

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Time Posted: Dec 21, 2023 at 5:00 AM Permalink to For last-minute shopping and wine education, visit Certified Sommelier Paul Marsh at the Lodi Wine Visitor Center Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
December 19, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Our best blogs of 2023 were all about old vines—which Lodi has more than anywhere else in America!

December look of own-rooted Carignan, planted in the sandy soils of the east side of Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA in 1909.

2023 will go down as the year when old vines finally got their due. No longer for just the outward beauty of these plants, their astonishing longevity or the special character of their resulting wines, but also for their significance in respect, as the recently established (June 2023) Old Vine Registry puts it, to the current "planetary crisis."

It is the very adaptability of old vines to decades or even centuries of extreme weather, pest and disease pressures that carry the "secrets of survival," according to Old Vine Registry, tantamount to the entire international wine community. "Big, gnarly vines," they write, "are significant reservoirs of biomass and carbon... they play vital roles in local hydrological cycles... their old, deep-and-wide root networks are inextricably bound up with and connected to the mycorrhizal networks that sustain, feed and protect our soils."

In addition, "old vineyards are also often full of clonal diversity and rare varieties... the genes of old vines can be studied, and old-vine material can be propagated for more resilient young vines..."

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Time Posted: Dec 19, 2023 at 6:00 AM Permalink to Our best blogs of 2023 were all about old vines—which Lodi has more than anywhere else in America! Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
December 12, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Story of an appellation—Part 12, the future of Lodi winegrowing

Drone-captured message sent to Airborne Visible/InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer, written among grapevines by Lodi growers who collaborated on pathogen-spotting research conducted in collaboration with NASA's Applied Science Program. Aaron Lange (LangeTwins Family Winery) and Stephanie Bolton (Lodi Winegrape Commission).

Making things happen in the vineyard

The future of Lodi winegrowing lies in the recent past, which has been defined by two things:

• The evolving identity of Lodi's sub-appellations.
• The growing importance of sustainability...

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Time Posted: Dec 12, 2023 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Story of an appellation—Part 12, the future of Lodi winegrowing Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
December 7, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Story of an appellation—Part 11, the state of Lodi today

November colors in Mokelumne River-Lodi Carignan, originally planted on its own roots in 1900.

Point in history

There have been a few hiccups during Lodi's transition to higher quality wine grapes over the past forty to fifty years. For instance, Zinfandel—California's most enduring heritage grape for the production of dry table reds—was primarily utilized to produce mildly sweet pink wine (i.e., White Zinfandel) during the 1980s and 1990s. 

Although the White Zinfandel craze did not exactly enhance Lodi's reputation as a wine region of quality, it did help preserve the region's existing plantings of the grape—many of them over 50 or as much as 100 years old—and kept growers from pulling out these heritage Zinfandel blocks in favor of popular "new" varieties such as Chardonnay or Merlot.

If not for White Zinfandel, we may not be able to describe Lodi, as we do today, as the region with the most old vine plantings (that is, vineyards planted over 50 years ago) in the country...

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Time Posted: Dec 7, 2023 at 5:00 AM Permalink to Story of an appellation—Part 11, the state of Lodi today Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
December 5, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Christmas 2023! Lodi wines suitable for the collectors in your life

Lodi wine country during December.

Christmas shopping for discriminating wine lovers is next to impossible. They may know what they like, but what that is is anyone's guess. Taste in fine wine, as in all matters of taste, is a highly personal choice.

Hence, the following list, which is not a "best of." It is a list of a dozen Lodi-grown wines released in 2023 that would appeal to collectors because there is something about each that is a little out of the  ordinary. And there's nothing connoisseurs like better than things that are out of the ordinary.

Each of these wines, of course, are also very good. They would appeal to anyone who appreciates wines of exceptional quality.

Best of all, each wine is very "Lodi"—distinctive to the appellation on a sensory level, on an intellectual level, or both... 

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Time Posted: Dec 5, 2023 at 6:00 AM Permalink to Christmas 2023! Lodi wines suitable for the collectors in your life Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 28, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Story of an appellation—Part 10, Lodi's modern day winemaking leaders

Modern day Lodi dream team: (from left) Bruce and Jerry Fry of multi-award winning Mohr-Fry Ranches with Stuart Spencer, owner/winemaker of St. Amant Winery and current Executive Director of Lodi Winegrape Commission.

Continued from Story of an appellation—Part 9, the modern era, when Lodi families of German lineage took control

St. Amant Winery

Tim Spencer (1938-2006), who founded St. Amant Winery with his wife Barbara in 1972, was not just one of Lodi's pioneering vintners. He will always be remembered as one of Lodi's most inspiring winemaker/growers, exerting an influence still talked about today...

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Time Posted: Nov 28, 2023 at 6:00 AM Permalink to Story of an appellation—Part 10, Lodi's modern day winemaking leaders Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 23, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

A first Thanksgiving in Lodi

Late November colors in Lodi wine country.

Guest post by Elvira Fonz Gutiérrez

Elvira Fonz Gutiérrez first came to Lodi this past spring of 2023 to finish her Master's Degree in International Commerce in the Wine Industry, begun at University of Angers in the Loire Valley wine region of France. 

Having completed her work, rather than returning to her home in Huesca, Spain she has decided to stay in Lodi wine country for at least another year, taking on a new job as Marketing Coordinator for Bokisch Vineyards.

On this Thanksgiving morning, she sent over some of thoughts on spending her first Thanksgiving in the United States. Writes Ms. Gutiérrez...

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Time Posted: Nov 23, 2023 at 9:00 AM Permalink to A first Thanksgiving in Lodi Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 21, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Story of an appellation—Part 9, the modern era, when Lodi families of German lineage took control

1921 photograph of the Mettler family on the site of HGM Ranch (east side of Mokelumne River-Lodi): Henry George Mettler in front, with a young Carl Mettler (right), father of Mettler Family Vineyards' present-day patriarch Larry Mettler. Courtesy photo.

Klinker Brick Winery

The family behind Klinker Brick Winery is a quintessential Lodi story. Other than Michael David Winery, no other winery in Lodi has done more to familiarize the average American consumer with Lodi appellation wines than Klinker Brick, founded in 2000 by fifth-generation grape growers Steve and Lori Felten 

According to Mr. Felton, started up a winery was not really a choice thing. For over 100 years, wineries controlled almost everything—grape prices, the choice of varieties to plant, even how to farm and pick grapes. In a region where farmers still dominate the entire agricultural industry—including wine grapes—this was never a tolerable situation...

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Time Posted: Nov 21, 2023 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Story of an appellation—Part 9, the modern era, when Lodi families of German lineage took control Permalink
Randy Caparoso
 
November 17, 2023 | Randy Caparoso

Markus Wine Company's latest Ancient Blocks series approaches old vines in two ways

Markus Niggli, Markus Wine Company owner/winemaker/grower, with Nicolini Ranch old vine Carignan.

The wines of Markus Wine Company, owned and operated by winemaker Markus Niggli, demonstrate two ways of looking at Lodi's heritage blocks, emblematic of an appellation known for more acreage of old vines than any other region in California (hence, the entire United States).

• On one hand, Niggli revers old vines as much as anyone, letting vineyards speak for themselves by applying native yeast fermentation, negligible oak influence and minimal intervention throughout the winemaking process.

• On the other hand, Niggli is an artist and master blender—therefore, when he perceives that a wine can be improved by blending, as his partner Jon Bjork puts it, "other barreled wines wines [that] make the wine better, such as filling in a missing mid-palate or improving acidity," he will do that...

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Time Posted: Nov 17, 2023 at 6:00 AM Permalink to Markus Wine Company's latest Ancient Blocks series approaches old vines in two ways 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.