Lodi, California: Historic Zinfandel Capital

When you hear California wine, you most likely think Napa and Sonoma. But there’s a great wine region that’s been flourishing for 150 years not too far from there…Lodi, California.

Lodi is one of California’s major wine growing region, located 100 miles east of San Francisco. It’s characterized by a rural atmosphere and farms run by 4th and 5th generation families workign with new vintners who have brought fresh creative new things to the region.

Unlike many U.S. wine regions, Lodi actually prospered during Prohibition and as such has been a continuous source of wine grapes since the 1850s.

 The Lodi AVA has about 100,000 acres of winegrapes, farmed by more than 750 growers, many of whose families have grown grapes for a century or more. The region’s annual yield of nearly 600,000 tons of grapes in 2011 was valued at $325 million and comprised 17% of California’s total wine grape production.

Lodi is predominately a red wine-producing region, with approximately two-thirds of the acreage dedicated to red varieties. However, with over 75 varieties in commercial production, Lodi offers a vast portfolio of interesting wines. Lodi is the self-proclaimed Zinfandel Capital of the World, producing over 32% of California’s premium Zinfandel. Many of the region’s most distinctive wines come from the thousands of acres of “old vines”—some dating back to the 1880s. An estimated 2,000 acres are unique pre-Prohibition own-rooted vines. Cabernet Sauvignon is prevalent along the eastern edge of the Lodi appellation.

I was introduced to the region through a lively and informative Twitter wine tasting before Thanksgiving. Today, there are approximately 85 wineries and tasting rooms, over 750 growers and more than 100,000 acres planted to vineyards. We tasted five lovely wines to paint the picture of the Lodi region…

My personal favorite of the five…

2011 Klinker Brick Winery Bricks & Mortar Cabernet Blend

  • Region: Lodi, California
  • Variety: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petite Sirah, 10% Old Vine Zinfandel
  • Aroma: Currants, plum, mint and thyme
  • Taste: Cassis, smokey and spiced cedar
  • Price: $30
  • My thoughts: Love this grape blend that’s created a rich, silky wine. My husband said “it was like a Christmas tree” on the nose. Therefore I’d say a perfect wine for the holiday season. 🙂

In 2004–2005, the Lodi Winegrape Commission created the standards for the state’s first third-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program, known as Lodi Rules™. This program promotes practices that enhance biodiversity, soil health and water cleanliness and further encourages responsible farming by focusing on the community through land stewardship, employee training, and 2 safety initiatives. About 20–25% of the acreage in Lodi, and some outside the area, is now certified.

Lodi is definitely a wine region worth exploring virtually through their wine and in person.

Cheers to Lodi wine and tradition!