A 100% Petite Sirah that’s friendly and approachable? Sign me up. When Theodora Lee sent me two vintages of Petite Sirah and a rosé of Petite Sirah, I knew I was in the hands of a PS expert. Until recently I’d been intimidated by the varietal whose very name seems to tease at its reality: There’s nothing petite about the flavors textures, or even aromas of a Petite Sirah. Or so I thought until I’d tried an expression from Theopolis’s neighboring vintner Halcón Vineyards. There’s something special about the tucked away AVA of Yorkville Highlands — and this refined, mature, yet full-of-life expression of Petite Sirah from Theopolis Vineyards just solidifies that fact.
My introduction to some of the over 100 varieties of wine grown in Lodi began at a Wine Bloggers Conference welcome dinner hosted at Acquiesce Winery, which only produces white wines from Rhône varieites. My second taste was the following morning at an Albarino breakfast (yes, you heard that right) at Bokisch Vineyards with the variety expressing beautiful citrus notes across bottlings from different vineyards and producers. Those who have the perception that Lodi only produces big red wines should take note.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of delightful red wines coming out of the region. During my stay I took a trip to Bechtold Vineyard and tasted the exotic Cinsault variety, which is often characterized as “Pinot Noir meets Zinfandel.” Today, famed wineries Turley Wine Cellars and Bonny Doon are among those sourcing grapes from the Lodi vineyard.
Of course, I tasted plenty of the region’s signature grape, Zinfandel, which is quite quaffable. But the wines that captured my attention were not the usual suspects.
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.