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
November 23, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi knows alternative Thanksgivings

“Happy families,” wrote Tolstoy, “are all alike, and every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Or are they?  As it’s also often said, we don’t get to choose our families, but to a large extent, we can certainly control the circumstances under which we see them.  Especially for Thanksgiving, which is all about everyone returning to the nest.

One thing we also know about families:  not all of them have the same taste.  Not everyone, for instance, digs turkey.  In a prior blogpost, A Lodi wine country Thanksgiving, we furnished a treatise on the ideal wines for many of the variations of turkey we love.  But what if your idea of Thanksgiving is, as illustrated by yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle piece called Crab makes you forget turkey on Thanksgiving, is some kind of fruits de mers (fish or shellfish), or roast beef, leg of lamb, baked ham, wild boar or shotgunned game birds?

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Time Posted: Nov 23, 2010 at 3:05 PM Permalink to Lodi knows alternative Thanksgivings Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 10, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

A Lodi wine country Thanksgiving

Let your turkey guide your wine choices, and one Lodi family’s Thanksgiving menu and secret family recipe for potato rolls…

The turkey is one of our greatest comfort foods.  When we were kids we simply traced our fingers to draw them.  It has also remained as all-American a culinary delicacy as any:  as ubiquitous as it may seem to us, it’s never caught on in other countries, even in Europe (because they used to confuse native Americans with Indians from India, the French still call it coq d’Inde, the “cock of India” – how twisted is that?).

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Time Posted: Nov 10, 2010 at 3:02 PM Permalink to A Lodi wine country Thanksgiving Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 9, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Fields Family post-holiday throw-down

Russ and Melinda Fields (and their three kids) and their partner/winemakers at Lodi’s Fields Family Wines, Ryan and Jalynn Sherman (with their two kids), celebrate Thanksgiving in the usual tradition.  But the during the weekend after, according to Ryan, the families and their friends get together to commence their “post-holiday throw-down.”

The Fields and Sherman families share a passion for cooking, which goes hand in hand with the passion for grapegrowing and winemaking they have shared since their first meeting of like minds in 2004.

According to Ryan, “Russ has an extremely extensive garden with too many things to even count, along with a chicken coop (another understatement – I call it the Chicken Four Seasons).  He normally whips up several items from the vegetable garden, and I make a killer braised beef short ribs in Lodi zin (ours, of course) with a rich side of mashed potatoes.”

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Time Posted: Nov 9, 2010 at 3:58 PM Permalink to Fields Family post-holiday throw-down Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 9, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Thanksgiving sweets everybody loves

Who doesn’t love a great sweet wine?  Your Aunt Gladys and Uncle Boyd, your brother the wine geek, your sister the foodie, mom who loves everything and dad who always proclaims “I know what I like” but still can never remember what he had last week:  they all love the wines winemakers probably work the hardest on which, incidentally, always taste great with dessert.

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Time Posted: Nov 9, 2010 at 2:54 PM Permalink to Thanksgiving sweets everybody loves Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 5, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Taste Lodi: Woodbridge Moscato

The goods: A compelling array of orange blossom, rose petal, tropical flowers (jasmine and frangipani) and honeysuckle perfumes tease the nose; and then totally deliver on the palate:  feathery light(10.3% alcohol) and modestly sweet (4.8% residual sugar) sensations, with the airy crispness of lemon cookies and a tingly touch of effervescence (what the Italians would call frizzante).

Price & provenance: $12; grown primarily in Lodi from grapes of Muscat Canelli (46%), Muscat Orange (46%) and Gewürztraminer (8%)

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Time Posted: Nov 5, 2010 at 2:50 PM Permalink to Taste Lodi: Woodbridge Moscato Permalink
Randy Caparoso
November 4, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Woodbridge, we hardly knew ye…

Have you heard about one of Lodi’s newer “boutique” wineries:  Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi?

We kid you not, since April Fool’s is in April, not November.  If you’re planning to cover the Lodi winefront during THE FIRST SIP weekend this coming November 13-14, it might be a good idea to set aside a few minutes to visit the giant Woodbridge winery (yes, it’s built to process a quarter of what Lodi grows, and over 8 million cases of wine each year) and taste their lineup of boutique style wines (no more than 200 cases of each) made from decidedly cutting-edge grapes like Vermentino, Verdelho, Malvasia and Marsanne.

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Time Posted: Nov 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM Permalink to Woodbridge, we hardly knew ye… Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 27, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi terroir unleashed at zintastic Lodi Wine & Art Auction

“Gala” doesn’t quite describe Artisan Masters’ Lodi Wine & Art Auction that took place in Lodi’s Hutchins Street Square this past Saturday (10/23).  How about, say, an extra-sensory, fantastical, phantasmagoric vinous adventure?  The eye opening spices and vividly flavorful barrels of ’09 and 2010 Zinfandels presented by twenty of Lodi’s top wineries certainly made many of our tongues skip such a light fandango. 

Or, culinary tours de force?  “Culinary,” of course, in respect to wines, great food and people coming together to celebrate how far along Lodi wine has come:  to a point where we can pinpoint individual sub-regions and vineyard sites, each elucidating terroir related delineations of that most American of American grown grapes – Zinfandel.

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Time Posted: Oct 27, 2010 at 6:23 PM Permalink to Lodi terroir unleashed at zintastic Lodi Wine & Art Auction Permalink
Randy Caparoso
October 14, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

The late and wild 2010 Lodi harvest

While taking a taco truck break with his pickers last week (first week of October) at Egger Vineyard, a stand of 20 year old head trained Zinfandel vines on the north side of Peltier Rd., Jonathan Wetmore ventured an opinion:  “All the wineries have been happy so far with the quality of the 2010 harvest.”  This, you must know, is somewhat of an understatement, considering the joyous whooping and hollering we’ve actually been hearing among those in Lodi’s oenological profession.

Then again, Wetmore is first and foremost a farmer — his Round Valley Ranches owns or manages over 2,000 acres in Lodi (including the high profile Jessie’s Grove estate) — and farmers always act like they come from Missouri, the Show-Me State. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, right?… fat ladies singing and all?  In the meantime, let the winemakers whistle while they work, high on their yearly fermenting Kool-Aid.

Mr. Wetmore, though, also takes an itty-bitty fraction of those grapes he farms and produces wine under the Grands Amis Winery label with his wife/business partner, Catherine Wetmore, and so he is capable of a little of that winemaker enthusiasm. Okay, maybe just by the teaspoon; because, he tells us, “it’s been one of the toughest years I’ve ever experienced… we’re not used to harvesting so late...”

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Time Posted: Oct 14, 2010 at 6:06 PM Permalink to The late and wild 2010 Lodi harvest Permalink
Randy Caparoso
September 23, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Will 2010 be Lodi’s best vintage ever?

2010 Lodi harvest (photo by Diego Olagary)

2010 Lodi harvest (photo by Diego Olagary)

September 23, 2010 Lodi Harvest Report Over the past two weeks the night harvesters in Lodi have been busy while you've lain in bed dreaming. White wine grapes have pretty much come off the vine; and at this date, red wine grapes from the warmer sites (generally on Lodi's eastern side) have started to trickle in, although most of the latter will probably be picked between now and the first week of October. You may have heard of the challenging conditions on California's North Coast; sluggishly ripening grapes beset by cold weather, followed by alarming late August temperature spikes of.

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Time Posted: Sep 23, 2010 at 1:57 PM Permalink to Will 2010 be Lodi’s best vintage ever? Permalink
Randy Caparoso
September 20, 2010 | Randy Caparoso

Jim Moore walks the Lodi walk

Uvaggio Lodi Moscato Dolce

Uvaggio Lodi Moscato Dolce

One of Lodi's singularly most original, and quite possibly most significant (if you dream in Italian) white wines today may be the one made from the Vermentino grape by Jim Moore, owner/winemaker of Italian inspired wines under the Uvaggio label. "Vermentino," says Moore, "is the thinking man's Pinot Grigio." Like Pinot Grigio, it tends to be light, dry and breezy; lemony tart without being puckery. Where Vermentino veers off – as in the 2009 Uvaggio Lodi Vermentino ($13-$14 retail) – is in its multifaceted nose: lavender, thyme and lime blossom fragrances, with undertones of cantaloupe and nuances of wild honey...

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Time Posted: Sep 20, 2010 at 2:08 PM Permalink to Jim Moore walks the Lodi walk Permalink

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