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.
Lodi’s 2023 Wine & Chocolate celebration, a 3-day extravaganza, is less than a month away!
Longtime Lodi wine lovers are well aware of Lodi wine country’s crowning February event, the yearly Lodi Wine & Chocolate Festival!
What you may not be aware of, however, is that in 2023 this yearly celebration comes a week earlier than normal: February 3-5, 2023, rather than closer to Valentine’s Day...Continue »
Initial report on Lodi's 2022 vintage and favorite images from the harvest
The 2022 harvest is in the books, the grapes turned miraculously into wine, wineries preparing whites and rosés in tanks for bottling and checking on other wines resting in barrels.
In an initial report posted last November, California's Wine Institute summarized the state's overall performance as such:
Vintners across the state are expecting a high-quality vintage for 2022 following a season filled with curveballs. For many California wine regions, this was a tale of two harvests, as a Labor Day [September 3-5] heat wave divided the season into earlier and later picks. As harvest wraps up across the state, vintners predict that 2022 will produce memorable wines of great concentration and complexity...Continue »
Wine industry changes in the wind expected in 2023
What should wine lovers as well as wine industry professionals expect in 2023?
A headline in the December 7 beverage industry website just-drinks.com reads: 2023 outlook – economic clouds to linger as wine industry seeks right blend. The global wine industry, it reads, is no different than any segment of the global economy, currently beset by market turbulence, inflation and possible recession, unpredictable supply and demand, and general consumer anxiety about outward issues such as climate change and rampant disease. You know, the usual stuff...Continue »
Celebrate the New Year with authentic, champagne style sparklers grown in Lodi
There is nothing like a bottle of champagne style sparkler to mark the arrival of every New Year.
I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the sound of the pop or the fizz of the bubbling wine that makes us think we are getting rid of the old year, and starting all over with a new one bringing even more luck or good fortune. Hope springs eternal!
Champagne style sparklers are grown and produced in Lodi, despite the fact that the original Champagne wine region in France is associated with cold climate winegrowing, whereas Lodi is definitely warm—much more like the wine regions of Provence or alongside the Mediterranean Sea as opposed to northerly river regions near Paris...Continue »
Our favorite Lodi wine country photos of 2022
Choosing favorite photographs out of thousands taken every year is never easy. So I simply threw objectivity out the window and zoomed in on the photos that either popped out like "eye candy," and which seem to "say" the most—the most about Lodi, about its people and history, or about the state of Lodi wines or winegrowing in general.
Here's hoping you enjoy the following images as much as I do, and wishing you a very Merry Christmas from Lodi wine country!Continue »
A look back at 2022's increasing consumer preferences for natural, organic or sustainably grown wines
Consumers rule. Or put it this way: They make the rules, which can be loosely defined because, well, they're the consumers. Details don't matter when they can dictate through the only means that matter, their wallets.
It is true that consumers pick up on cues suggested by advances in the winegrowing and wine production industries. But in the end, it is the winegrowing and wine production industries who follow the cues of consumers, not the other way around. Wine media (writers, journalists, critics, bloggers, influencers, et al.) pretty much go with the flow, covering whatever is produced, and whatever consumers happen to prefer. This is why many wines become popular whether or not they are covered in popular print or online magazines. Consumers determine what writers write about, what growers grow, and what vintners produce...Continue »
A look back at 2022's rise of small artisanal brands' usage of Lodi-grown grapes
As we look back at the past year, one of the most surprising unforeseen developments in the Lodi winegrowing industry has been the marked increase in Lodi-grown wines made by small, handcraft, more artisanally focused wineries, many of them based outside the Lodi wine region.
Small winery sourcing of Lodi grapes, of course, has been going on for years—you could say, since the 1990s, when Sonoma and Napa vintners such as Patrick Campbell, Mitch Cosentino and Larry Turley first started driving over through the Delta in search of grapes from "old vine" plantings that were (at the time) long overlooked and underappreciated by most of California's premium quality wine industry...Continue »
The 12 interesting Lodi-grown wines of 2022
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...Continue »
Why Lodi is a verdant paradise for grapes, not a parched Central Valley desert
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...Continue »
Wine aromas, part 2—On olfaction, the discipline of identifying wine aromas
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...Continue »