Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Vintastic Voyage: Lodi

Me at the m2 Vineyards in Lodi

I’ve had the privilege to visit Lodi multiple times over the last couple of years. For one, I live in California, so visiting any California wine country is quite convenient and only a car ride away. And secondly, I gained an in depth appreciation for Lodi after attending the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference where we learned about multi-generational family producers, the history of the local old vines, and met many incredible people who welcomed us with open arms and who were proud of Lodi and happy to show it off to us!

A while back I was staying with my friend in the NorCal area (disclaimer: I think people from Northern California dislike the term “NorCal”. But I think being from “SoCal” allows me use of the word!) we took a day trip and visited Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards, m2 Wines, and the Lucas Winery. Three very distinct wineries, which made for a great day of tasting!

My rule of thumb for a day of wine tasting is a MAXIMUM of four wineries. The best plan is to have a healthy sized breakfast (pro tip: no coffee because coffee tarnishes your taste buds for a few hours), visit two wineries, have a good size lunch, then visit two more wineries. The trick to not be a hot mess by the end is to swirl and spit. And yes, I know not everyone wants to spit their wine out. But if you swirl and spit for the first two wineries, have a good lunch, you can imbibe at the last two wineries with no regret! You’ll still be a bit tipsy and have a great time, but this will assure you won’t be tanked by the last winery and you won’t wake up with a raging hangover the next day. Your liver will thank me if you follow these tips!

Here is my recap of a fun-filled day in Lodi!

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards

I have been here a couple times now and I love this place. For one, Sue Tipton is the owner and winemaker, and I am always more than happy to support a female-owned business. The tasting room is comfortable and homey and feels like you’re in a farmhouse in Tuscany or the south of France. What is unique about Acquiesce is that they only make whites and rosés. No red wines to be found here, which is a gutsy move in the Zinfandel-soaked Lodi area. She is focused on Rhone varietals. When I was there we tasted: Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Rosé, Picpoul, Rousanne, and Belle Blanc (which is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, and Viognier). They also have a Clairette that I did not get to try. 


From their website: Acquiesce has become our mantra -- to submit to nature, to yield to the vineyard, to acquiesce to the grapes so they present their own true character. Attention to detail reigns here with sustainable vines that are lightly watered, grapes that are handpicked and then whole cluster pressed to create wines that are both classic and traditional.

There is a $10 tasting fee, which is waived with any wine purchase. The fun part is that they pair a small bite with each wine taste. My favorite was the goat cheese with thyme and Meyer lemon paired with the Grenache Blanc. Delicious! Check out this (and a few other) recipes on the Acquiesce page HERE.

They sell-out of their wines every year and their tasting room shuts down until the following season!

Fun fact, Acquiesce Winery is a member of LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing, which is California’s original sustainable viticulture program. LODI RULES is considered a benchmark program that will (hopefully) be transferable to other winegrowing regions. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but stay tuned for my next post which will delve more into Lodi and the LODI RULES program.

m2 Wines

The m2 tasting room is in stark contrast to Acquiesce. It has a modern and industrial tasing room feel. Almost like you’re in a very hip downtown loft…...yet in the middle of a Lodi vineyard! I love the aesthetics here…..it’s not what you expect in Lodi, and I dig that. 

While visiting, I tasted a Viognier, a Zinfandel, and a couple red blends consisting mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Syrah. They have a $10 tasting fee which is waived with a wine purchase.

According to their website, m2 Wines creates small-lot, artisanal wines. They describe their wines as old-world craftsmanship meets modern winemaking.

Fun fact, Layne Montgomery is the winemaker/founder. I interviewed him and other Lodi winemakers in 2016 for my Lodi Native posts, which can be found HERE and HERE.

The Lucas Winery

View from the ZinStar Vineyard

According to the Lucas Winery website, wine tasting at The Lucas Winery is very different than you will encounter at most wineries. We move through the winery while tasting different wines. Depending on the time of year, you might prune a vine, taste Zinfandel grapes almost ready to harvest, punch down some newly harvested grapes, or sample some freshly fermented wine. During my visit we walked through the vineyards as well as the Grand Chai room.

ZinStar Vineyard

The Grand Chai Room
Lucas is a lovely property and you get the true "heart and soul" feel from every touch point, whether it's from the warm greeting upon arrival, the pride from the staff as they take you through the vineyard, or the care taken in pouring the wines and telling you the story in the glass. 

Lucas is owned by David Lucas, who is also winemaker with his wife, Heather Pyle-Lucas. I actually got to meet them both when I spent an afternoon onsite at Lucas at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Read more HERE.

Heather says she spends more time in the vineyard than in the winery. She loves getting up in the middle of the night in her pajamas and checking in on how her fermentations are doing!

Their winery is 100% solar powered. They specialize in unblended Chardonnay and Zinfandel.

ZinStar is their signature wine sourced from their 83-year old CCOF organically certified and hand harvested ZinStar vineyard (3.5 acres). The wine has black cherry notes and subtle notes of white pepper. It is a wonderfully complex wine showcasing fruit, spice, and leather. It is VERY food-friendly! We tried the 2012 vintage during this trip. The current vintage is 2015 and retails for $58.

Join me next week as we talk more about Lodi!

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