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
January 30, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Livin’ LoCA at ZAP

ZAP's spectactular 2012 Grand Tasting venue at The Concourse

The yearly Grand Tasting put on by the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (i.e. ZAP) in San Francisco turned 21 this past Saturday, January 28:  that is to say, after over two decades, it’s matured into one of the grandest, most bodacious yet, if you can believe it, most civilized wine events in the country.

A new venue at The Concourse certainly helped.  Close to 8,000 true-blue and purple teethed zin lovers strolled through the length of this south-of-Market building’s 125,000 square feet of spectacularly skylighted heights, rich wood and exposed brick walls (this 8th & Brannan exhibition center was carved out of an old train station)...

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Time Posted: Jan 30, 2012 at 7:54 AM Permalink to Livin’ LoCA at ZAP Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 26, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Mom always loved Sorelle’s Primitivo best

The Sorelle estate in January, with the historic Dodge House (built 1866)

Another one of the Lodi American Viticultural Area’s gold medal winners at the prestigious 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition was the 2009 Sorelle, Manna Ranch Reserve Lodi Primitivo ($27):  a round, fleshy, velvety, medium bodied red, inundated with vibrant, smoke tinged raspberry and black cherry aromas, unimpeded by moderate, pliant tannin...

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Time Posted: Jan 26, 2012 at 7:52 AM Permalink to Mom always loved Sorelle’s Primitivo best Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 23, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Michael~David’s Cabernet Sauvignon leads the way to Rapture


It seems like just yesterday that Michael~David Winery was one of those little Lodi wineries that could.  We still have lots of those kinds of producers, but the company driven by brothers Michael (CEO/owner) and David (President/owner) Phillips now do things on the scale of hundreds of thousands of cases – still peanuts compared to Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi (over 8 million cases), but dwarfing the 2,000 to 10,000 yearly cases by Lodi’s m2, Macchia, McCay, The Lucas, Bokisch and Harney Lane...

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Time Posted: Jan 23, 2012 at 7:48 AM Permalink to Michael~David’s Cabernet Sauvignon leads the way to Rapture Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 19, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi’s Wine & Chocolate Weekend is the perfect tie that binds…


Friends, lovers, wine countrymen, lend us your ears, noses and tasting palates:


Lodi’s 15th annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend is upon us; taking place February 11-12, 2012 (11 AM-4 PM), when over 45 of our wineries roll out the Valentine’s-red carpets to their doors to show off their richest, juiciest wines with decadent chocolates and other treats, lots of live music, direct-from-barrel tastings, art exhibits, professional photo portraits, and more…

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Time Posted: Jan 19, 2012 at 7:45 AM Permalink to Lodi’s Wine & Chocolate Weekend is the perfect tie that binds… Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 17, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Borra Vineyards takes a bow for their stunning Fusion Reds


Borra Vineyards grower/proprietor Steve Borra has always cut quite a figure in Lodi’s winegrowing circles, with his signature cowboy hat and crusty handlebar mustache – he even walks into a room with a rider’s bowed gait.

Then again, these days Mr. Borra has a lot to take a bow for; especially since last week’s very public announcement that the 2008 Borra Fusion Red ($19) has been named among the twelve Wall Street Journal Wine Awards Annual Dozen – and we ain’t talkin’ Dirty Dozen

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Time Posted: Jan 17, 2012 at 7:39 AM Permalink to Borra Vineyards takes a bow for their stunning Fusion Reds Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 11, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Vinedos Aurora adds to Lodi’s rich, inspiring heritage

Vinedos Aurora winemaker, Gerardo Espinosa

Viñedos Aurora, one of Lodi’s hottest new brands, is special for several reasons.  First, and most importantly, the quality of Viñedos Aurora wines is impeccable:  a purplish power packed yet finely chiseled Petite Sirah; a dreamily balanced and multi-scented Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo/Merlot blend called Síntesis; and a light, minerally, whippersnapper of a dry white made from the Albariño grape.

Viñedos Aurora is also a great American story:  beginning with the grandfather of winemaker Gerardo Espinosa, Victor Anaya Rocha, who first came to the Stockton area from Michoacán, Mexico to work the fields in 1944.  For many years, Anaya Sr. traveled back and forth, raising four sons – Victor Jr., Ramon, Armando and Gerardo Anaya – all of whom earned degrees in agricultural engineering from the University of Michoacán...

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Time Posted: Jan 11, 2012 at 7:34 AM Permalink to Vinedos Aurora adds to Lodi’s rich, inspiring heritage Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 9, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi wines are big winners at 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Two of Kyle and Jorja Lerner's Harney Lane wines were Gold medal winners at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition...

The medal winners at the ultra-prestige 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition were announced last week (January 6).  Duplicating results of recent years, wines grown in the Lodi AVA took home an impressive share of top honors...

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Time Posted: Jan 9, 2012 at 7:28 AM Permalink to Lodi wines are big winners at 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 5, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

In praise of ZAP & Lodi terroir


Ancient zin vine in Mohr-Fry Ranches -- one of Lodi's most beloved terroirs...

You don’t need flowers in your hair, just an enthusiasm for a wine grape that was once so well loved that it was nearly forgotten.  Each year for over the past twenty years, some 7,000 to 8,000 Zinfandel lovers have flocked to San Francisco for Zinfandel Advocates & Producers’ annual Grand Tasting.  Clearly, if there is any one grape that personifies vinous love and power-to-the-people, Zinfandel is it.

This year’s ZAP Grand Tasting takes place on January 28, 2012 at The Concourse (8th & Brannan) in San Francisco, where over 250 wineries will be pouring their Zinfandels – including these Lodi based producers...

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Time Posted: Jan 5, 2012 at 1:34 PM Permalink to In praise of ZAP & Lodi terroir Permalink
Randy Caparoso
January 3, 2012 | Randy Caparoso

The near-immortal Pasos Vineyards Charbono

Pasos Vineyards' Antonio Pasos

Pasos Vineyards' Antonio Pasos

It takes an inquisitive mind to even want to make a wine called Charbono, and pure skill to make something significant from this little known black skinned grape.  Meet Antonio Pasos, owner/winemaker of Lodi’s Pasos Vineyards.

Mr. Pasos discovered his calling fairly early in life, when his family moved from Monterey (where he was born) to Madera in California’s Central Valley to grow wine grapes.  Granted, 25, 30 years ago the Madera AVA was mostly about Thompson Seedless – industry old timers will recall that at one point, this table grape was the backbone of California “Chablis” – but in their own backyard, the Pasos family also grew “experimental” grapes like Syrah, and various clones of Cabernet Sauvignon on multiple rootstocks.  Hence, the germination of Pasos’ inquisitive nature...

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Time Posted: Jan 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM Permalink to The near-immortal Pasos Vineyards Charbono Permalink
Randy Caparoso
December 29, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi’s best days ahead (thanks to Mark Chandler!)


Mark Chandler

On January 1, 2012 the Lodi Winegrape Commission – representing over 750 Lodi region growers plus over 80 wineries – will embark on a new era with the departure of Mark Chandler, the organization’s first and only Executive Director since its establishment 20 years ago.  Mr. Chandler, who has privately been telling friends simply that “it was time,” has composed a farewell in his succinct yet sincere fashion (a long admired signature!) for our readers on

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Time Posted: Dec 29, 2011 at 5:54 PM Permalink to Lodi’s best days ahead (thanks to Mark Chandler!) Permalink

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