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.
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.
It makes sense that Zinfandel has gained a reputation as California’s “heritage grape.” For many years, Zinfandel’s exact origins remained a mystery, or, as Jancis Robinson calls it, “a romantic thriller.” The red grape seemed to have made the trek and set fresh roots in the Golden State in conjunction with the forty-niners seeking their fortune in gold. Here, when the search for treasure proved fruitless, settlers turned to farming — and the Zinfandel grape thrived more than the Gold Rush ever could. Fields of vines flourished throughout the Sierra Foothills, and wine — namely jug wine — became a household staple and a new California industry.
With no known parentage and no knowledge of how the red wine grape arrived in the States in the first place — Zinfandel became California’s “wine child.”