We’ve all heard the saying, “great wine starts in the vineyard,” but what does that look like?
In Lodi, it’s evident in the big old gnarly vines that have been cared for by multiple generations and produce deeply concentrated fruit It’s visible at Bechtold Vineyard, the oldest known Cinsault vineyard in the world planted in 1886, where pheromone disruptors hang on the vines to control mealybugs. It’s demonstrated by the owl boxes posted in Bokisch Vineyards that house the birds that prevent pests from visiting the vines. It’s apparent when Lange Twins vineyards has a plane fly overhead taking pictures in order to provide the vineyard manager with heat maps as an aid in pest detection. Most of all, it’s very clear when hearing firsthand from vineyard managers and winemakers how much care they put into the vines.
If variety is the spice of life, Lodi is one spicy place!
Some wine regions are known for – or limited to – producing just a few varieties of wine grapes. Not in Lodi, California. The region has proven it can grow over 100 different grape varieties — more than any other region in California, including those from old world regions as well as new world clonal creations. Let’s take a look at some of the “more interesting” grapes being grown in Lodi and the vintners who work with them.
I have to admit, I went to Lodi Wine Country knowing very little about the region and its wines. As someone who works in Woodinville Wine Country where Washington State wine is the main commodity, the local wines are what often grace our table. Nevertheless, an ongoing intrigue with wine encourages me to explore other regions. So, when the opportunity arose to visit the California region of Lodi during the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference, I took it.
Today, I’m a big fan of Lodi wines. There are so many diverse and unexpected varieties grown there and the vineyards are pretty special, with most abiding by the strict Lodi Rules for sustainability. And the quality of wine? Remarkable for the price.
This past week I featured a series of California Rhone wines in conjunction with my recently published article for Edible Communities entitled Where we Rhone. This article explores the history of Rhone varietals in California and features both iconic and up-and-coming local Rhone-centric winemakers. I’ve also included a brief Rhone wine 101 sidebar, explaining the French origin and breaking down the most common varietals. Have a read, brush up on your Rhone wine 101, and then check out a few individual California Rhone wine reviews featured here on my site.
While I was researching for a recent article about California Rhone varieties, winemaker Bradley Brown of Big Basin Vineyards said something interesting to me. “Syrah is the winemaker’s grape,” he said, “It’s hard for consumers to understand it, but winemaker’s love it.” While it’s true that all grapes — and produce in general — is a product of its environment, there’s something about the Syrah grape that is so impacted even by the subtle nuances of its surroundings. Thus, as I’ve said before, Syrah can express itself quite differently even from vineyards within the same AVA — even from blocks within the same vineyard! Well, at 2500 feet of elevation, Halcón is one of the highest vineyards in California, so you can be sure this Syrah will taste unlike any other you’ve had before.