Lodi Wine: Discovering this Central Valley AVA

Lodi Wine
Recently WineLA arranged a tasting at La Brea Bakery showcasing LoCA, The Wines of Lodi, California. The Lodi wine area, which is known as the Zinfandel capital of the world, was also named in 2015 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. Today Lodi is not just known for Zinfandel; there is an eclectic range of varietals that grown in the region now.

Lodi wine origins go back to the 1850s. By the 1880s, Zinfandel and Tokay were the mainstay grapes of the area. For many winegrowers, their family heritage lies in Lodi, with grape growing going back four and five generations. Lodi wine received its AVA designation in 1986. Not only is the area known for it Zinfandel but primarily old vine Zinfandel. Many of these old vines survived prohibition.

One finds a Mediterranean climate with the diurnal shifts from warm days to cool nights.   Delta breezes from the San Joaquin and Sacramento River Delta act as a cooling system. The soils are predominately sandy loam.

Today one will find diversity in the types of grapes grown. This diversity could be seen at this Lodi wine tasting in Los Angeles, as there were many Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian varietals.

Here are some of my favorites from Lodi Wine:

Bokisch Vineyards
Bokisch Vineyards owner Liz Bokisch and winemaker Elyse Perry

Markus & Liz Bokisch own Bokisch Vineyards. Their love of Spain and the Spanish varietals is quite evident. Purchasing their vineyard in 1995, they began by planting Albarino, Tempranillo, and Graciano in 1999. Their first Spanish vintage was in 2001. Today Bokisch Vineyards has a women winemaker, Elyse Perry.

The two wines that stood out were the 2013 Graciano, which ages in both French and American Oak, and the 2014 Tempranillo. The Tempranillo ages for 18 months in a mixture of American, Hungarian, and French oak. Tasting these wines, you would not know they were produced in the Lodi because their character is so much like those of Spain. In fact, Bokisch has established a Crianza program.

D'art Wines
D’art White Barbera and Red Dog Day

My favorite white Lodi wine of the evening was a White Barbera from d’Art Wines. Dave Dart, the owner, is self-taught, but you would not know it from tasting his wines. The name d’Art is both a play on his last name and the art he creates. All his labels feature his artwork, and the winery tasting room also functions as an art gallery. The White Barbera 2015 is very refreshing with floral and stone fruit notes.

Another favorite is the D’art non-vintage Dog Day Red.   Dave calls this wine a mixed breed because it combines several years of almost all the wines he produces. They add 25% of their port wine and let it age. The result is a fun, lively, well-balanced, and very drinkable red wine with flavors of dark cherry. D’art’s 2012 Zinfandel is a softer Zinfandel with a sweet undertone that was offset by hints of clove. This wine was a very nice drinkable wine.

Jeremy Wine Co.
Jeremy Wine Co.

My favorite from Jeremy Wine Co. was the 2014 Sangiovese. I found the quality of this wine very much like a Sangiovese coming directly from Italy. The wine ages 18 months in heavy toast American oak. The wine was balanced and very drinkable with the distinct cherry flavors of Sangiovese.

Jessie’s Grove Winery is a family-owned winery that dates back to the 1860s. Their old vines are not just Zinfandel. They also have 130-year-old Cinsault. In fact, the 2015 Sinso Cinsault exhibits the excellence of what can be produced from these older vines. This medium-bodied wine was bright and very fruit-forward.

The m2 Wines 2014 Select Black Old Vine Zinfandel was a treat because the grapes for this Zin come from 101-year-old vines. The wine ages 19 months in 40% new American oak. Bright cherry is quite evident on the palate.

Oak Ridge Winery
Oak Ridge Winery’s Old Soul Cabernet Sauvignon and Old Vine Zinfandel

Oak Ridge Winery presented two wines worth mentioning. The first is the 2014 Old Soul Cabernet Sauvignon, which blends with a little Zinfandel creating a wine with subtle dark fruit flavors. Also, the Old Vine Zinfandel combines Zin with a bit of Petite Sirah. The outcome is a subtle and sophisticated wine with lots of florals. With names like an old soul and old vine, you know that these wines are produced from older vines.

Peltier Winery prides itself on being sustainable and certified green. The 2010 Teroldego Reserve is unique in that this Italian grape that is primarily found in the northeastern region of Trentino and Alto Adige, is an excellent example of what can be created from this varietal in California. This wine is wine but very balanced. The wine ages 36 – 48 months. There are rich, velvety textures that bring out the dried cherry flavors and earthy qualities of this wine.

It was interesting to find that the grapes for the Peltier 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel come from 52-year-old vines. These vines are free-standing.

The best value in Zinfandel came from Red Haus Wines. The 2014 Zinfandel at $14 is a bargain for an everyday drinking wine. The Zin is softer than most, but considering the price point, it is excellent.

St. Amant Winery Old Vine Zinfandel
St. Amant Winery Old Vine Zinfandel

Both the St. Amant Winery 2015 Mohr-Fry Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel and the 2015 Marian’s Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel were excellent. The Marian’s comes from vineyards planted in 1901. The wine was very integrated and together with flavors of licorice.

In conclusion, I was duly impressed with this LoCA event and the quality available from such a large number of wineries. Furthermore, I am anxious to now visit Lodi to expand my knowledge about Lodi wine and what this Central Valley region has to offer.

WineLA puts on some great events that allow the consumer to really get an in-depth view of a region or a varietal. In this case, it was Lodi wines. Check WineLA search for upcoming events.