In the last week of June I was in California on a study trip with my classmates of my Master in Wine Culture at the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo. We visited UC Davis, several wineries and vineyards plus some breweries. Particularly I was not very excited, since I’ve been there a few times. Surprisingly there was in our program a visit to a region that I had never been to. I did not expect much because I had never heard of the wines there.
When we arrived at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center we had a good conversation with Randy Caparoso, editor of lodiwine.com, about the region, the grape varieties grown and the wines from Lodi. So far nothing very different from what we normally see on our visits.
For my surprise Randy invited us to taste some wines at some vineyards with the producers. When we got to the first vineyard and had the first tasting I could not believe what was in my glass. The first wine we tasted was a fresh, vivid Cinsault produced by McCay Cellars. I didn’t expect to taste a wine at this level of quality in Lodi. It was a big surprise.
A very cool project we met in Lodi was the Lodi Native. In recent years Lodi Native – where groups of Lodi winemakers have been producing single-vineyard Zinfandels following the exact same, native yeast/neutral oak protocols – have been proving something that old-time growers and vintners have known all along: that there are differences among Lodi Zinfandel plantings grown in different parts of the Lodi AVA.
I believe if you are planning a visit to the vineyards of Napa Valley and Sonoma you should include a visit to the vineyards of Lodi. It is just over 1 hour drive from San Francisco and also from Napa.