Why am I so in love with Lodi?

7 reasons why I love the place, the people, and the wines.


Before I start talking about my reasons* behind being in love with Lodi, let’s get one simple fact straight: Lodi is a very big production area. With over 100,000 acres (over 40,000 hectares) of premium wine grapes, we are not talking about a small and obscure wine region. Rather, we’re talking about a very large production area (arguably, the largest in the US) that, as you will see, is making very tall waves on the quality front of the wine industry.

*Why 7 reasons? I am sure that you all have heard about “7 Deadly Zins” by Michael David Winery,  haven’t you? I probably had that in the back of my mind… [smile]

Reason #1: An incredible range of grape varieties.

It’s not “all about Zin” as many of us would think. Both white and red grape varieties from different European countries are being grown. France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany and Austria (more about it on my “Reason #5”).

I had been to Lodi before (for the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2016), but this time around I learned that over one hundred grape varieties are being used to produce high quality wines there. Of course, I tasted many of them during my four-day visit, but I am sure there is much more to be discovered. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "I'll be back."

Reason #2: Old Vine Zinfandels.

These ancient vineyards should be revered as American treasures. The story goes that they were planted back in 1888 and some of them are still on their own roots. You heard me right: Over 130 year-old vines! Of course, the yields are very low. Incredibly expensive to maintain? Sure! But the high quality of the fruit they produce totally justifies their existence (that is, only for those of you who don’t care about what they mean to our heritage as a wine producing country).

If you haven’t tried any OVZs (Old Vine Zinfandels) lately, you are surely missing something special.

Reason #3: LODIRULES™.

LODIRULES™ was launched in 2005. It is California’s first 3rd party-certified sustainable winegrowing certification program. In practical terms, it means that they are doing many “right things”:

1. They are investing in Human Resources, training their people to perform with efficiency, but without neglecting the other very important component of this equation: safety.

2. The vineyards are part of the ecosystem. With that in mind, they preserve native trees, protecting the wildlife habitat. Above is a picture of their “box for owls.” They are the natural predators of burrowing rodents such as gophers, which is part of their Integrated Pest Management.

3. Water Management. They make the best of their water use by constantly monitoring soil moisture and actually finding out the amount of water needed by the vines.

Reason #4: Tailgating in the vineyards.

Someone once said, a picture speaks louder than 1,000 words. There you go!

Reason #5: Mokelumne Glen Vineyards.

What a nice surprise to find the largest collection of German and Austrian grapes in the U.S., with over 40 grape varieties in Lodi. With about a dozen of them being produced in larger quantities (1/2 to 8 tons). They are Blaufrankisch/Lemberger, Dornfelder, Zweigelt, and Regent (for red varieties). Then Bacchus, Gewürztraminer, Kerner, Rieslaner, Riesling, Weissburngunder/Pinot Blanc, and Grüner Veltliner (for white varieties). We had the chance to taste the wines of a few wineries that came (pictured) and I was astonished by what I saw/smelled/tasted. Intensity of aromas and flavors… Low alcohol and high acid… Purity of fruit… all the things that a #winelover appreciates in a wine. Proprietors Bob and Mary Lou Koth took us to see their vines and told us some of their stories. It was a beautiful day!

Reason #6: Zinfandel: East vs. West: Two different kinds of beauty.

Before we get to our blind tasting (pictured) let me first give you an overview of East vs. West.
A. The east side of Lodi is basically the vineyards located east of Hwy 99 in the Mokelumne River, Borden Ranch, and Clements Hills AVAs.

B. The west side of Lodi is at the western end of the Mokelumne River AVA (west of Hwy 99).

With that being defined, let’s get to the differences in the “terroirs” and then, consequently, in the wines: The east side is a little warmer. The soils are sandier and water tables are lower. This translates into smaller berries, which in turn results in higher skin to juice ratios. In the glass what is noticed is their firmer tannins and shaper acidity. To make a long(er) story short(er), the reverse applies to the West.

There is a lot more to it… soon to come in a blog near you!

Reason #7: It’s the people, folks!

Last — but positively in this case, not least — it’s all about the people behind it. And I know it sounds cliché…and that other people have said it… but I can’t simply neglect the fact that the people in Lodi are a very special bunch. They are! First of all, they call themselves “winegrowing families.” Isn’t that special in itself? I can’t remember how many times I was introduced to someone who said “I am a fifth-generation winegrower.” But this attitude is just the tip of the iceberg. The folks from Lodi seemed to be a big family themselves. And they make you feel — with just a brief encounter— that you are part of their family too.

Do you want to see it for yourself? Go and visit! You can grab a lot more good information here: https://www.lodiwine.com/Plan-Your-Visit

This is about it for now… I hope to find time to cover in detail each one of the “7 reasons why I love Lodi.” Stay tuned!

Luiz Alberto is founder of the #winelover community.

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