Wine Talk

Snooth User: Claudia Angelillo

A Journey through Lodi

Posted by Claudia Angelillo, May 29, 2015.

Hi everyone, 

This thread is dedicated to your thoughts about the wines of Lodi, more specifically for those who attend next week's virtual tasting. Here is a link to the virtual tasting page:

The tasting will take place next Wednesday, June 3rd, at 8:30pm Eastern/5:30pm Pacific.                 

I am heading out to Lodi next week with a few members of the wine press (as it were). I'll be sharing tidbits about our daily exploits on this thread. Photos, too. 

Looking forward to sharing more information about Lodi with all of you!





Reply by napagirl68, May 29, 2015.

Looking forward to it, Claudia.  When in Lodi, don't miss Acquiesce Winery.  Susan Tipton specializes in white Rhone style wines and they are FANTASTIC!!

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 29, 2015.

Didn't mention it in the Amador County thread, but on our return from Amador County to the East Bay, we took the state routes through the Central Valley and down the Delta.  The route took us right through Clements, which is really the heart of Lodi wine country, and along the edge of the city of Lodi.  Here's a little map:

Although Lodi is in the Central Valley, it's not as hot as some parts because the Delta spreads out to the west and provides some cooling.  Interestingly, just on the other side of the Delta, there's another little chunk of "wine country" mixed in with the exurbs of Oaklley and Antioch.  Live Oak, Big Break, and Evangelho, three of the most historic vineyards in the entire state, are just on the other side of the bridge on that route. 

Interesting producer in Lodi is Bokisch, producing wines from Iberian varieties and at very favorable prices.

Reply by Claudia Angelillo, Jun 1, 2015.

Without further ado, I am here to deliver our first update on our journey through Lodi!

We corralled five members of the wine press at the Sacramento airport. This is a truly wonderful and vivacious group of keen palates. They are:

Gabe Sasso

Frank Morgan

Jeff Kralik

Julia Crowley

Amy Corron Power

As a group, we proceeded to the Wine & Roses hotel.

After a quick tasting in the Wine & Roses lobby, we retired to our rooms for a few hours before dinner.

We’re heading out tomorrow at 8:30am. Here is a sneak peek at our itinerary:

- Clay Station Vineyard visit in the Borden Ranch sub-appellation

- Vineyard Tour & Iberian Varietal Tasting with Markus & Liz Bokisch and Elyse Perry at Bokisch Vineyards

- Paella lunch at the Bokisch Residence

- German Varietal Tasting at Mokelumne Glen Vineyards with winegrape growers Bob and Mary Lou Koth.

- Dinner at Pietro’s Trattoria in Lodi

Do you think we’ll make it to dessert?

I’ll check back in tomorrow and let you know -- with some updates on our exploits thrown in for good measure. Ciao from Lodi!

PS: NG -- We are headed to Acquiesce later this week. Huzzah!

Reply by EMark, Jun 1, 2015.

Thanks for the update, Claudia.

Interesting wines with what I assume was your first evening's dinner.  Were there any opinions, consensus or otherwise, about them?  As a Zinfandel bigot, the one that particularly caught my eye was the Forlorn Hope from Kirshenmann vineyard.

Reply by Really Big Al, Jun 1, 2015.

Oh, I wish I were on that little excursion.  I hope you enjoy it.

Reply by Claudia Angelillo, Jun 2, 2015.

Day 2 update:

I think the biggest takeaway from this trip is going to be...

It really AIN’T all about the Zin!

In fact, Zin biggots (like you, EMark) are welcome here with opened arms. While Zin is Lodi’s flagship wine, it is not by any means the only grape upon which the region hangs its hat. I’m sure many of you who’ve had a chance to visit or taste the region already know this, but I think it is increasingly true.

We made today’s first stop in Borden Ranch AVA, at the toes of the Sierra Foothills. This is on the eastern side of Lodi which is noted for its elevation (albeit slight) and warmer temperatures (versus the west side). Our visit to Clay Station vineyard was hosted by vineyard manager Robert Perry. Clay Station is owned by Delicato Family Vineyards (also known as DFV.) We spent some time talking about the vernal pools found within the vineyard. The vernal pool is a micro-ecosystem where plant, lizard, and other small animal populations make their habitats. Many of the species living within the vernal pools are endangered. The state of California thus dictates to wine grape growers: You can’t bulldoze or fill the vernal pools; you need to work around them. As far as I’m concerned these native populations could very well be one of many things that contribute to the character of Lodi wines. When vines share earth and soil with especial plant and animal life, magic is bound to happen in the glass. We encountered a plot of award-winning Viognier (planted in 1994) next to a centenarian oak tree with a vernal pool in the distance. I truly believe that the confluence of these environmental factors aids in the creation of distinctly wonderful wine.

After our visit with Robert we headed over to Bokisch Vineyards’ brand new tasting room. The tasting room isn’t open to the public just yet, but we got a sneak peek at the construction phase of the project. It should be open for business sometime this fall. The family focuses on Spanish varietals. In fact, the Bokisch family is credited with bringing the Graciano grape into United States production. The Bokisch’s recognized the potential of this grape and worked very hard to bring it from Spain to California. Their first Graciano vintage was labeled as red table wine simply because the grape was not approved in time for release. Red tape, be gone! The Graciano is known amongst Bokisch’s staff as “the secret weapon”. It’s a very difficult variety to grow but the rewards are boundless.  While it is used as a blending grape in the Rioja, the varietal really stands up on its own here in Lodi. The tannins keep a white-knuckle grip on the palate. This helps underscore the anthocyanidin-rich fruits (think blueberries and blackberries.) Rose and oat permeate the finish. As far as I'm concerned, it's a must-try.

Markus and Liz Bokisch hosted us at their gorgeous home for a simply transcendent chicken paella lunch. They’ve got Tempranillo, Albarino and Graciano growing in their backyard. That sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? But it’s true! They also grow vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, and white and purple potatoes. Add a dog, cat, and happy group of egg-laying hens into the equation, and you’ve got one phenomenally idyllic household.

After our otherworldly lunch we called upon the Bokisch’s neighbors, Bob and Mary Lou Koth of Mokelumne Glen Vineyards. They’ve been growing grapes on their property since the early 1960s. They are set apart by their dedication to mostly white German varietals, which the Koth’s feel are underutilized and underappreciated in the current market. Markus Niggli of Borra Vineyards (you may recall tasting his Intuition blend during last year’s Lodi virtual tasting) also joined us to discuss his penchant for oaked Kerner and oaked Riesling. Despite the oak, Markus still manages to elicit the inherent acidity from these grapes. Acidic wine, after all, is his birthright. It's a fairly common style style back in his home country, Switzerland. Bob and Mary Lou grow the grapes that help Markus create some certifiably unique blends for his own label (Markus Wine Co.) I am so grateful that these folks are producing such special grapes and wines. The collective palate will catch up to the Kerner grape over the next few decades, I'm sure. It just takes time. We tasted a varietal Kerner, which engendered a soft yet stinging acidity. Where else have you seen a varietal Kerner? Or a Bacchus-dominant blend? Look no further than Lodi.

I’d love to tell you more but we’re gearing up for yet another jam-packed day tomorrow. This is what we have slated:

- Lodi Native Vineyard Visits & Tastings: Noma Vineyard, Schmeidt Vineyard, Marian’s Vineyard, Mohr-Fry Ranch Vineyard, and Soucie Vineyard

- Lodi Native Tasting and lunch at Macchia Wines

- Tasting at Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards

- Wine & cheese pairing hosted by Kyle & Jorja Lerner, Harney Lane Winery & Cindy Della Monica, Cheese Central. Featured Harney Lane Winery wines: 2014 Albariño, 2014 Rosé, 2012 Tempranillo, 2012 Zinfandel, 2012 Lizzy James Old Vine Zinfandel

Do you have any questions that I can ask during any one of our visits? Let me know and I’ll do my best to  get them answered. Until tomorrow!

Pictured, from top to bottom: 

-- Marcus Niggli walking us through his amazing whites at Mokelumne

-- A selection of Bokisch wines from our paella lunch

-- Our lunchtime table at Bokisch

-- Markus Bokisch showing us how to distinguish between varietals based on their leaves

-- A selection of Bokisch wines at the soon-to-open Bokisch tasting room

-- The old oak tree in the midst of the Viognier at Clay Station.

Reply by Really Big Al, Jun 2, 2015.

Oh man, this looks like a great finding trip.  Keep it coming! 

Reply by dmcker, Jun 2, 2015.

Close ups on specific wineries from your visits are greatly appreciated. As Al said, do keep them coming--the more detail, the merrier....

Reply by Claudia Angelillo, Jun 3, 2015.

Update, day 3, part 1

I must start this post by saying that I don’t generally gravitate toward Zins, but yesterday’s visits may have helped to change my mind. As wine journalist Randy Caporoso said, there’s a reason why nobody ever tried to pull out these old vines. The fruit they produce is just too good.

The day began with visits to four different vineyards around Lodi. We had the chance to speak with both the winemakers and grape growers with whom they partner. It’s a delicate relationship, to be certain; a tryst between art and science in a bottle.

Tim Holdener, winemaker and proprietor of Macchia Wines, showed us around Lodi’s Noma and Schmeidt vineyards. Tim started as a home winemaker and eventually turned his passion into a profession. These vineyard sites date back to 1900 and 1915, respectively. In fact, at one time, Ravenswood used fruit from Schmeidt because even they understood the superiority of these vines. It’s been incredible to learn just how many grapes in Napa glasses are coming from Lodi. This fruit is the secret sauce, folks.

Stuart Spencer, winemaker at Saint Amant, and fifth generation grape grower, Bruce Fry, introduced us to the Marian vineyard at Mohr-Fry Ranch. These vines know what they’re doing, Bruce says. It’s clear that the interplay between Stuart and Bruce is what helps create fantastic wine. Trust should exist between the winemaker, the grower, the vines, and of course mother nature. I swear that one of the vines winked at me as I took my first sip of Stuart’s 2003 Zin. There’s nothing like tasting a wine while standing upon the plot of land from which the grapes hail.

The next and last vineyard stop was at Soucie Vineyards with Kevin Soucie, and M2 winemaker Layne Montgomery. Kevin Soucie is the third person to farm the Soucie vines since they were planted at the turn of the 20th century. The care that has gone into keeping them robust is quite clear. Kevin’s vines were some of the happiest I’ve ever seen, and boy does it show in Layne’s wine.

All of these visits led us to the main event: lunch at Macchia Winery with the Lodi Native crew. What is the Lodi Native project? Well, at the suggestion of wine journalist Randy Caporoso, the aforementioned winemakers plus a few others decided to create a series of Zinfandels with limited intervention. A laissez-faire Zin, if you will. All additions (cultivated yeasts, water, acid, new oak, and additives) with the exception of sulfur are verboten. The goal is to showcase the true terroir of each old vine. The wine must taste like its vineyard and nothing more. Each wine in the lineup has its own character, flavor profile, and spice. The crushed quartz in the soil at Soucie in Layne’s contribution was quite evident to me.

I’ve only scratched the surface here. Please stay tuned for a deeper review later this week. I want to make sure I do all of the wines, wineries, and winemakers justice. I'll definitely get some nitty gritty on a few specific wineries for you!

Tonight is our virtual tasting, and I really hope to see you there. Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Camron King, and Harney Lane winemaker, Kyle Lerner, will discuss a selection of wines with Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser. 

Here is a link to the virtual tasting page:

You may even get to see all of us on camera!

Here is today’s itinerary:

Breakfast at Michael David Winery Café

Lodi Rules™-Focused Property/Vineyard Tour & Tasting at Bare Ranch by Michael David Winery

Lodi Rules™-Focused Vineyard Tour & Tasting at Vino Farms vineyard.

Lodi Rules™-Focused Winery Tour & Tasting at LangeTwins Family Winery.

Late lunch at LangeTwins Family Winery,

Arrive back at Wine & Roses Hotel to rest before the Virtual Tasting!

Farewell dinner at Oak Farm Vineyards.

Enjoy a few photos below. See you tonight!

From top to bottom: The Lodi Native winemaking boys with wine journalist Randy Caporoso; lunchtime tasting at Macchia; Layne Montgomery at Soucie Vineyards; Pick-up truck tasting of Saint Amant in Marian's vineyard.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 3, 2015.

Great stuff.  I'll be heading home early to crack my bottles.  (Consider that the RSVP, although I did RSVP elsewhere, too.)


Reply by EMark, Jun 3, 2015.

 there’s a reason why nobody ever tried to pull out these old vines. The fruit they produce is just too good.

That is certainly true, but credit also has to be given to the fact that White Zinfandel became the rage thirty-something years ago, thus, saving thousands of acres of Zinfandel from being replanted to Merlot or Chardonnay.  Thank you, Sutter Home.


It’s been incredible to learn just how many grapes in Napa glasses are coming from Lodi.

Please be careful with statements like this.  There are labeling laws in the United States that help the consumer identify the source of the component grapes.

  • It a bottle of Zinfandel is labeled "Napa Valley," then at least 85% of the component grapes had to have been grown in the Napa Valley AVA.  Up to 15% of the component grapes could have been sourced from other areas, e.g., Lodi, Sierra Foothils, Sonoma County, Paso Robles.
  • If a bottle is labeled "Napa County," then at least 75% of the grapes must be sourced from Napa County.
  • A wine made from grapes of different sources, none of which meets the 75% bar, would be labeled "California."
  • A wine can be vinted and bottled by a winemaker in Napa, but 85% the grapes could have been sourced from the Lodi AVA.  Such wine would probably have  "Lodi" on the front label.  It could also correctly be labeled "California."  However, the winemaker address on the back label would indicate a Napa address.

I would not be surprised at all if Lodi fruit was being mixed with Napa fruit, or Sonoma fruit or any of a number of combination of sources.  However, U.S. labeling laws do provide the wine consumer with some reasonable comfort that the source of the grapes is known.

i apologized if my comments seem picky, Claudia.  I have been enjoying your great reports.  Thank you, very much for the good work.

Reply by outthere, Jun 3, 2015.

3hrs later the tannins have tamed but the heat is overpowering on the Lodi Zin, kinda disappointing. The Viognier was a bit OTT for me personally. Too much fruit. But then agin it's Viognier. It needs to be blended with  something. Fun VT though the conversation was predominately between the bloggers on site which was kinda strange. 

Anyone who had the Syrah, was it really that good? Based on some of the chatter on the wines I had I'm not sure who to believe.

Reply by napagirl68, Jun 3, 2015.

OT, I agree.   For my palate, the zin was too hot and big. I won't say more on that, as I am not usually a zin fan for the most part.

I had the Viognier as well, and although you say this grape needs to be blended, I have had few single varietals that are decent.  It is hard to do... it does (and should IMO)  typically exhibit a floral nose, followed by a deeper, honey-like flash, but a good one finishes with crisp acidity.. a hard act to pull off!  I only have had a handful that I care for.  Acquiesce in lodi does it well... very Tablas Creek-esque.  And some in Paso do it well.  It is not easy to do single varietal.  This McCay was odd to me... I would never have guessed it blind as a viognier.  Almost was like a bigger pinot blanc to me.  There were no florals, no flash of honey, and was a bit of flabbiness followed by an abrupt tight finish.  Strange...   I did not pair this, but there was a bit of minerality for me, and with that finish, it could be a decent food pairing.  But not a typical single varietal Viognier by any means. 

I think we missed the 'stars" of the tasting.   I am interested in the Rosato... I got mixed messages off of that one.  I could've sworn in the interview they said it was Carignon, but then one of the bloggers said Cinsault.   I would be interested in tasting the syrah as well, but really like some I am tasting out of SCM.  Lighter, black pepper, olive, red fruit... yum.

VTs seem to be big for the bloggers with the hashtags and all.... I just try to read and listen :-)

BTW,  WTH was up with your typing tonight, OT???   ;-) ;-)



Reply by GregT, Jun 3, 2015.

OT - Viognier is one of those grapes that really tends to disappoint more than enchant. It smells nice and you think you're in for a treat but it's never got quite enough acidity, length, complexity or flavor. Qupe makes a decent one, but it's not extraordinary. Those from the N. Rhone are the standard for some people but I just think there are so many other white grapes that are better in the end. Blending it is a good idea IMO.

I only had the rosato and the Syrah and I wasn't expecting much from the Syrah but it totally delivered. Maybe because I had no expectations - I don't know. But as a wine it was completely acceptable and I wouldn't hesitate to buy it. It was more than simple fruit; it had some smoke and tar and genuine interest. I thought it was a very nice job. If there are more wines like that, I'm really interested in visiting Lodi.

Zin is a hard one. It can be light and bright or big and overdone. It's why I like Zin actually - it really reflects the site and the wine maker as much, if not more, than any other grape. Would have liked to try the one they sent out, but it seems like I lucked out by getting the Syrah and I'll be sure to make sure others know about it.

BTW, last night I had the Halcon Mourvedre/Grenache blend. It's the best Mourvedre blend I've had from CA. They had it on Last Bottle and while god knows I don't need any more wine, I picked some up. That's just a magnificent wine.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Jun 4, 2015.

I agree with GregT on the Syrah tasting notes.  The wine was dominated by the smoke, tar and earth characteristics.  I would have liked to see more of the fruit come out in the mix...

Reply by outthere, Jun 4, 2015.

Sorry NG.

  1. With all the work I have been doing in the yard my fingers are swollen.
  2. Typing on the iPad with the small keypad was an issue.
  3. I  was standing by the grill rather than seated.
  4. I was responding quickly to a feed that was moving along and wasn't proof-reading.

I'm sure it was painful to read. It was for me!

Reply by EMark, Jun 4, 2015.

I did not have any of the wines for the VT, but I enjoyed listening to the conversation and watching the chat.  I was sipping also--a Hungarian Furmint that I have to say was pretty pedestrian, but for the price I did not have any big expectations.

I've always been under the impression that I was the outlier on Viognier.  I just don't care for it as a varietal bottling--too flowery and too fruity.  The only exception was a couple years ago when I bought a couple bottles from, I think, Halcon.  Those were much more muted.  I'm very pleased to see your comments about the Halcon Esqustos blend, Greg.  I have enjoyed a couple vintages of that one, but it does not seem to get a lot of attention on any of these boards.  So, while I am not terribly concerned that I like something that others seem to ignore, . . .. OK, that was going to be a lie.  I have as many esteem issues as anybody else, and I do need validation from others.  I saw the offereing on Last Bottle and almost went for it so that could get another bottle of the Prado white blend for Mrs. EMark.  She just loves that, but I don't need another Alturas.  I have plenty of that.  

I've noticed in the VTs that every wine seems to get raves and is considered to be a bargain.  I have come to the conclusion that thiis is more a sociological or psychological phenomenon than anything else.

Regarding the Zin that they were tasting last night, I thought the $35 price point was surprising.  At that price we're talking Ridge and Bedrock as competition.  On the other hand, if they can sell out their production at that price, then, if anything, it is priced too low.  By another comparison, though, I have enjoyed multiple vintages of Oak Ridge Lodi Zin, and that comes in under $15.  It's a darned good wine, and would have been terrific with OT's hamburgers.

Sorry to hijack your thread, Claudia, but discussion is a good thing.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 4, 2015.

Mark, good points about the pricing for sure.  There's a lot of really good zin in that price range, including Talty and, with the club discount, Mauritson's Rockpiles.  On the other hand, Lodi Zin is pretty well established.  And those Carlisles, Bedrocks, Rockpiles, really are underpriced because they frequently sell out.  In fact, Carlisles have become something that you almost have to know someone to get.  Ridge just has so much product that you can get it easily, but it almost never goes on discount, so maybe it is underpriced. 

But for the varietal wines that don't have the fame, the prices are pretty favorable.  $24 for a Syrah as good as the Fields is impressive.  It's right in the neighborhood of what I can do at the full-case pre-release from Halcon, or when I snag discounted bottles of other OT favorites. Not sure how many places in Lodi can grow and make Syrah at that level, but I would never have guessed I would like one in the first place.  I'd like to see the Rosato under $20 because generally I like my rose (how do I get an accent here?) under $20, but I have to say it was a pretty impressive rose, not just a mindless quaff. 

Reply by Claudia Angelillo, Jun 19, 2015.

Apologies for the delayed reply on this thread. It has been a busy month! EMark -- Not picky at all. I appreciate the kind attention. Great points on both fronts. 

I published the group's travel log today which should round out our trip quite nicely. One stop that I really wanted to mention but didn't:  Oak Farm Vineyards. This place deserves a special mention.

The Panella family came to Lodi from Avellino, Italy, in the late 19th century. They farmed quite a bit around Lodi but made their mark in the trucking industry. In 2004, Dan Panella and his family purchased a gorgeous farm previously owned by Wiliam DeVries. William was a true-blue pioneer. He moved from Baltimore to California in 1853, at the age of 21, intent on snagging some gold. Upon arrival he quickly discovered that the real money was in farm land. He grew wheat and raised cattle on his 160 acre estate. His son, Marion DeVries, became a prominent lawyer with political ties. Marion was integral in moving the California wine industry through prohibition. The Panella's have turned the DeVries' estate into a true destination winery. The tasting room is brand spankin' new; it opened in October 2014. The modern glamour is tempered by William's circa 1864 colonial home, which still sits on the property. The wine is pretty great, too. They've been replacing some of the old vines (some of which contained White Zin-friendly Gallo clones) with brand new ones. It's worth checking out.

Here's a link to the article. I value your feedback!



Back to Categories

Popular Topics

  • posts

Top Contributors This Month

847804 Snooth User: EMark
6 posts
472290 Snooth User: jackwerickson
3 posts
324443 Snooth User: outthere
3 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network