The 42nd annual Sonoma barrel tasting event was held on the first two weekends in March. Over 100 wineries participated in the event where you had the opportunity to sample wines that are still aging in the barrel. Arriving in California a couple of days before the event I decided to visit a wine region that I had not visited on my previous wine tours in California and that wine region was Lodi. In 2015 Wine Enthusiast magazine named Lodi wine region of the year.
The Lodi AVA (American Vinicultural Area) is located about 100 miles east of San Francisco Bay and just west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The grape growing industry in the area goes back to the mid 1800’s but was only granted AVA status in 1986. Lodi has over 75,000 acres of vineyards and supplies 20% of the California wine grape crop each year producing more wine than Sonoma and Napa combined.
It’s known as the Zinfandel capital of the world with many 100 year old+ zinfandel vines. Driving through the wine country you see rows and rows of those old, gnarly stumps that are still producing fruit. In addition to Zins, because of its Mediterranean climate the region grows over 100 varietals of grapes from many of the wine producing countries of Europe. Spanish varietals such as Albariño, Verdejo and Tempranillo, Portuguese varietals of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão, Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Aglianico and Terlodago and German varietals of Kerner and Dornfelder just to name a few of the100 varietals that are grown in the Lodi AVA.
It should have been about an hour and a half drive from San Francisco airport to the wineries as the crow flies, but the crow didn’t have to sit in city traffic on the way. I had one full day of tasting. Many of the wineries are run by people who have been in the business for generations. This is farm country and the vibe was very casual.
Klinker Brick Winery 15887 North Alpine Road
2017 Granache Blanc: Greenish tint with a green apple nose, green apple fruit, crisp and light.
2015 Dolcetto: Dark purple to black, big perfume of crushed black fruit, tight with rosemary notes on the fruit.
2015 Old Vine Zinfandel “Marisa Vineyard”: Black with a purple rim, crushed black fruit and dried herbs on the nose, black licorice on the tight finish.
2015 1850°: 1850 is the number in degrees the temperature needed to make a Klinker Brick. Dark purple, sweet nose of baked apples, tight, dusty fruit.
2015 Petit Sirah: Inky black, some stinky notes on the nose, chalky, dusty, crushed black fruit finishing with tight, firm tannins.
2015 Carignan: Medium purple, roasted nuts on the nose, sweet red leather fruit with firm tannings and a long finish.
Van Ruiten Family Vineyards 340 West Highway 12
2017 Pinot Grigio: Medium gold, floral, earth with some peach notes on the nose, moderate acids with some RS on the fruit.
2016 Tempranillo: Medium red, tar and black pepper on the nose, tight black licorice fruit, crisp acids.
Oak Farm Vineyards 23627 North Devries Road
2018 Grenache Rosé: Light copper in color, strawberry nose, strawberry fruit, dry.
2017 Sauvignon Blanc: Light yellow, sweet kiwi on the nose, medium to light fruit, low acid, easy drinking.
2017 Corset: Blend of Syrah, Granache, Zinfandel and Malbec. Medium red, roast meat notes on the nose, tight with oak notes on the firm finish.
2016 Petit Verdot: Inky purple, sweet black cherry notes on the nose, juicy with dried herbs on the finish.
2017 Zinfandel “Vapor Trail”: Medium purple, jammy, smoky nose, jammy, smoky black berry fruit, good balance. 16.5% Alcohol.
m2 Wines 2900 East Peltier Road
2018 Vermentino: Light gold, sweet nose of peaches, mod fruit with honey notes on the fruit, nice balance.
2016 Lodi Native Zinfandel: Medium brick, beautiful perfume of tar and leather, dark chocolate on the tight fruit, long finish
2016 Zinfandel “Soucie”: From 100 year-old vines, medium red, perfume of warm red berries on the nose, jammy, dark chocolate fruit.
Fields Family Wines 3803 East Woodbridge Road
2017 Vermentino Delu Vineyard: Light gold, stinky nose, floral, moderate fruit, nice balance.
2017 Cinsault: Light red, turned earth on the nose, tight cherry fruit with a firm finish.
2014 Syrah “Roasted Slope”: Medium purple, roasted meat on the nose, tight green herbs on the fruit, firm acidity.
2015 Mouvedre: Medium red, red cherry and earth on the nose, juicy with bitter cherry notes, good balance.
Harney Lane Winery 9010 East Harney Lane
2016 Tempranillo: Medium purple, perfume of cherries, red cherry fruit ending with bitter cherry notes.
2016 Zinfandel “Lizzy James”: From 115 year old vines, medium purple, jammy, blueberry fruit, firm finish.
2016 Petite Sirah: Dark purple to black, crushed black fruit on the nose, concentrated dark chocolate on the fruit.