Thursday, May 9, 2019

Wining in Lodi...

The Goddess of Wine and JD had the opportunity to join the San Francisco Wine School for a quick and intense trip to LodiOrganized by Master Sommelier, David Glancy, and business partner, Kristen Campbell (the workhorse behind the SFWS), this trip covered what was just a small taste of Lodi wine. To make the event more special, our guide to the region was noted wine writer, sommelier, photographer, and all-around expert on Lodi, Randy Caparoso.

What touched me about Lodi, more than the delicious wines and meals our group shared, was the ethos embodied by the community of farmers and winemakers. I discovered that, what I imagined I would find, was very different from the reality of this old California wine region.

Greg Burns &
Old Vine Tokay
I was moved by the dedication of winemaker Greg Burns of Jessie's Grove Winery, who, as the 5th generation of farmers, has a profound respect for the history of the vineyard's own-rooted vines, most well over 100 years old, and certainly the oldest Zinfandel, Carignan, and Tokay vines in California. Greg sees himself as a steward of the land, keeping the ancient vines healthy and productive. And he's making delicious wines, and shared them with us in the cool morning shade under the 100+-year-old oaks saved by his great-grandmother, the eponymous Jessie.

Sue Tipton, Acquiesce
I was blown away by Acquiesce Vineyard's stunning Rhone-style white wines. I had no idea that Lodi's climate - that I incorrectly assumed to be hot, hot, hot - could produce delicate, fragrant, mineral-driven, elegant Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette Blanche, and Bourboulenc. Owner/winemaker Sue Tipton sourced her original vines from Château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and honors their provenance with her beautiful wines.

I was touched by the walk and talk with Aaron Lange of LangeTwins Family Winery, another 5th generation of growers and winemakers, whose commitment to sustainability is made evident in the care they take of their estate vineyards by introducing and maintaining habitat restoration and conservation, renewable energy, and soil, air, and water management. The Lange family began habitat restoration in 1988 with the introduction of native plants for wildlife buffers. Today the land along the creek features a natural landscape of cattails, cottonwoods and California roses. The presence of wildlife is encouraged in the vineyards by the introduction and preservation of native grasses and trees, and the placement of nesting boxes for owls, birds, and bats. And it's beautiful. 

Randy Caparoso,
Elyse Perry, Liz Bokisch
Specializing in Spanish grapes due to Markus Bokisch's Spanish background, at Bokisch Vineyards we were treated to delightful Albarino, Verdejo, and Garnacha, as well as winemaker Elyse Perry's own blend, and a tasty Rosé of Garnacha. And lunch! Grilled local sausage, fresh salad, and tomaté - tomato bread!

Layne Montgomery is the winemaker behind M2 Wines. He sources his grapes from the Soucie Vineyard to make his earthy, place-specific Zinfandel. Kevin Soucie is another 5th generation farmer, whose family's head-trained vines were planted in 1916. Both Layne and Kevin, and other winemakers as well, spoke about how special and rare it is to be able to make wines from these heritage vineyards. Layne is funny and self-deprecating, and he sent us home with a bottle of his 2016 Lodi Native Zinfandel, so we're his for life.

All too short visits with Harney Lane Winery proprietors Kyle and Jorja Lerner (4th gen winegrowers), Markus Niggli of Markus Wine Co., Fields Family winemaker, Ryan Sherman, Mohr-Fry Ranches' Bruce Fry (with a field tasting led by St. Amant Winery's Stuart Spencer), and more, left me sure that I'll return to Lodi to learn more! I'll finish with a photo that kind of sums up how we were all feeling towards the end of our short visit. Cheers!

David Glancy, multi-tasking at
Oak Farms Winery

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