Wine Bloggers Conference Puts Spotlight on Lodi Winemaking
Written by cavegrrl.com contributing writer Andy Harris
When I was kid, wines from Lodi were considered to be the bargain basement of wine making (I grew up in nearby Sacramento). Lodi wines of the 1980s and 90s were cheap, simple and normally sold in gallon jugs. I happen to know this, because that’s what we were drinking in college. The wines were a mixed bag of fairly pleasant to barely palatable. We knew the difference between the Charles Krug Chenin Blanc my parents drank by the case, and the cheap $5.00 gallon jugs with screw tops we drank.
Fast forward to the 2000’s and the game was changing. Wineries like McCay Cellars, Michael David, St. Amant Winery, Fields Family, Klinker Brick and countless others started to spring up. These were serious wine makers dedicated to raising the bar on Lodi wine making, and changing the image of Lodi wines being the “Rodney Dangerfields” of the wine industry to something very special and unique. Now legendary, but possibly underappreciated and not widely discovered, the aforementioned wineries have not only produced award-winning wines, but have introduced the American wine drinking populous to affordable wines without compromising on quality. Some are mass produced while others are made in small lots. But the number of Lodi wineries has exploded from about 30 wineries 20 years ago to nearly 200 as of this date. With this expansion has brought almost endless varietals and wine making methods.
One of the more intriguing projects to date is the Lodi Native program. In an effort to express the unique terroir of the Lodi appelation, the above wine makers and others adopted a collective philosophy of producing 100% native Zinfandel from single vineyards and bottling them under their own wineries’ names, but with the “Lodi Native” label affixed to the bottles. At a fixed price of $35.00 per bottle or $180.00 per assorted six-pack, the wine makers involved agreed to make their wines from vines planted prior to 1962, and to use only native yeast fermentation. The first vintage year was 2012, and all producers agreed to use no new oak barrels, commercial yeasts, water additions to reduce alcohol, acid adjustment, and filtration or color enhancers in producing their wines. Wineries affiliated with the Lodi Native program are M2 Wines, Macchia Wines, Maley Brothers, St. Amant Winery, and McCay Cellars.
The ratings are in, and these Zinfandels have not only scored highly in wine tastings and competitions, but they are helping to put Lodi on the wine map and help diffuse the negative stereotypes surrounding discussion about Lodi wine.
To my fellow wine bloggers, tasters and judges, welcome to the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference, and enjoy everything wine-related Lodi has to offer. Salute!
You can find Lodi Wine on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. The 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference kicks off this evening and will be held until Sunday. You can find the entire agenda on their website here. Follow on social media with #WBC2016!
You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter here! We’ll be at the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference this weekend and will be writing about our adventures and discoveries. Stay tuned!
Wine Wednesday: Don’t Miss TAPAS Grand Wine Tasting, April 27th, 2014
So I am pretty sure that the wine event I am promoting today was specifically designed for me. See, Tempranillo is my favorite red varietal, and the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Tempranillos and other Iberian varietal wines, featuring nearly 40 TAPAS member vintners is about to take place at the seventh annual Grand Wine Tasting held at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 27, 2014. I’m in! 🙂
Trade and consumers will be able to taste Tempranillos, Albariños, Garnachas, Verdelhos, Tourigas, and many other varieties, in a casual walk-around setting where they can chat with the growers and vintners. Explore the diversity of grapes and styles produced across the western United States. Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available. Many of the wines will also be available for sale at this event.
This year’s event will highlight Tempranillo’s aging potential with a Kickoff Seminar comparing pairs of Aged and New Tempranillos from the same vintner. See one of the reasons why Tempranillo is the fastest growing variety worldwide!
The event schedule is:
Tickets are $95 and include early admission to the Consumer Tasting.
2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Consumer Tasting. In conjunction with the walk-around tasting, the TAPAS Wine School (included with admission) will feature these informative consumer-oriented seminars and guided tastings:
Tickets to the Consumer Tasting are $60.
TAPAS President Stuart Spencer noted, “The TAPAS Grand Tasting is a unique opportunity for you to discover, savor and celebrate this treasure chest of exotic and delightfully food-friendly wines. You will gain appreciation for what some visionary winegrowers are doing here on American soil. Don’t miss it!”
About TAPAS: TAPAS started at the 2004 Unified Symposium, when Tempranillo winegrowers from California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Arizona met for the first time to discuss their avocation. Since that first visionary group pointed the way, the organization has incorporated and grown to over 100 members. The first Grand Wine Tasting was held at Copia in Napa in 2008, and has continued annually since then, as one of many initiatives to promote Tempranillo and other varietal wine grapes native to the Iberian Peninsula and wines produced from them in North America.
To purchase tickets, click here.
You can find TAPAS on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.
Like Unique Varietals? Try St. Amant Winery in Lodi
If you’ve never heard of St. Amant Winery, here’s an introduction. They are located in Lodi where lately, especially the last 3 years, some of my favorite red wines have also originated.
I first discovered St. Amant wines at a tasting at Treasure Island (in San Francisco of all places) during Fleet Week. I had the St. Amant Barbera and I thought it was the best red wine there. So, my recent interest in local Tempranillos has me searching around Lodi to see what I can find. It’s becoming more and more popular of a varietal there. It turns out that St. Amant has been growing Tempranillo a long time. Their 2009 was their 8th vintage, so I’m guessing they’re not just trying to be trendy. 😉
In fact, St. Amant was growing grapes prior to the beginning of commercial wine sales in Lodi. In 1979, Tim Spencer (the late father of the current owner, Stuart Spencer) owned a couple of acres of Zinfandel vines and grafted them to five Douro Valley Portuguese varieties: TintaCao,Touriga, Alvarelhao, Souzao, and Bastardo. By 1981, he produced his first vintage port.
In 1996, the winery relocated to Lodi. St. Amant (named after Stuart’s mother’s maiden name) is one of the first wineries in Lodi to list Lodi on their label. Since the move, Stuart has been making some of the most interesting and food friendly wines including: a Verdelho, the aformentioned Barbera and Tempranillo, a Touriga, a red blend: Speakeasy Red, and of course the ever popular Old Vine Zinfandel (2 varieties). The current lineup also includes 3 different kinds of Port.
Last night’s food pairing (with the 2008 Tempranillo) was a baked sweet potato topped with broccoli, onions, hard boiled egg, and Diestel Turkey Chorizo. I also added a little Greek yogurt and black pepper. 😉
I encourage you to visit St. Amant this weekend, especially if you are looking for a special bottle of wine as a gift. They are located at 1 Winemaster Way, Lodi, CA. You can also find them at Total Wine & More or fax your order from this form here.
You can like Lodi Wine on Facebook here.