Monday, August 22, 2016

From Lodi, With Love

Hutchins Square entrance to the Wine Bloggers Conference

As happened last year, I am suffering from the post-WBC blues. A week ago I returned from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California. This was my second conference and the people I met and the connections I made were just as strong as last year at the Finger Lakes, NY conference. I had such a good experience at the conference last year and really ended up loving the region, the people, and the wines. So much so that I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the same experience in Lodi. I can attest that I did! The people are JUST as nice, and the wines, let me tell you about the wines!

Onsite Zinfandel tasting

When I tell people that I went up to Lodi for the Wine Bloggers Conference they get a funny look on their face (a smirk and a slightly upturned nose) and go “oh….Lodi”. The perception about Lodi is that it is too hot to make good wines, the only wines coming out of there are big jammy Zins, and that it’s only for big, commercial Central Valley operations. I can say with overwhelming conviction that is NOT the case. Are there bad wines made out of Lodi. Yes. Are there big jammy Zins made out of Lodi. Yes. Are there huge commercial/industrial operations in Lodi. Yes. But there are also dozens of other grape growers and winemakers who put out a fantastic, artisanal product that will blow your socks off.

Markus Bokisch, owner and Jenny, winemaker at Bokisch Vineyards

I cannot even begin to tell you how incredible the people of Lodi are. Just about everywhere we went, we felt like we were being welcomed into people’s homes. And sometimes we were! The people we met were warm, welcoming, and proud. The people of Lodi are very proud of what they are doing. They know they are making good, honest, regional wine and have no qualms telling you about it. Lodi is an agricultural town. The gowers are TRUE farmers, and many come from a long line of farmers. One grape grower we met was a 7th generation farmer in Lodi. We met MANY people who are 3rd and 4th generation….it was a running theme. These people have been working the land for well over 100 years.

Sunrise Harvest with Kevin Phillips of Michael David Winery

I can go on and on about the people of Lodi, but what you’re really thinking is “can the wines back it up?”. And the answer is yes. There are over 100 varietals grown in Lodi, more than in any other AVA in California. And speaking of, Lodi is the largest AVA in California, with over 100,000 acres under vine. Aside from tasting some great Zinfandels, I also enjoyed Albarinos, Picpouls, Syrah, Grenache, Verdejo, Tempranillo, etc. They also make some amazing dry roses that were a perfect accompaniment to the hot! hot! hot! mid-afternoon vineyard walks.

The setting for a winemaker dinner at Lucas Winery

As you can see, I was overwhelmingly satisfied with my exploration of Lodi, their wine, and their people. And I am not the only one. It is not a mistake the Wine Enthusiast named Lodi “Wine Region of the Year” for 2015. See article HERE. Being a wine blogger, I believe it is my duty to sing the unsung praises of the good people making honest wine around the world. Napa doesn’t need any help and there are plenty of vanity labels (Moet anyone?) who get touted the world round. That’s all great and it works for some, but I want to explore the rocks unturned. I want to talk to the people making wine like their grandpa used to make in their cellar. I want to drink the interesting wines that are indicative of a region and of a terroir, not the wines that taste like a big fat marketing budget went into the bottle. I want the wine to be about the juice. And I want to enjoy these wines with good, tenacious, and passionate people. I can say, without a doubt, that is what I experienced in Lodi, California.

Participating in a sunrise harvest of Verdejo grapes at Michael David Winery

Have you been to Lodi?  If so, tell me about it in the comments section below! Did you have the same awesome experience I did?

Next week I'll share lots more from my trip to Lodi.  Vineyard walks, winery tours, winemaker dinners, and all kinds of good stuff!

1 comment:

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