Zinfest News

The “Lodi Outsiders” lineup and wines at 2014 Lodi ZinFest »

Turley Wine Cellars' Tegan Passalacqua (in this photo, standing in his Kirschenmann Vineyard, located on Lodi's east side) will be on the "Lodi Outsiders" panel in 2014's Lodi ZinFest Wine School

Tegan Passalacqua of Turley Wine Cellars

The bread and butter of the Lodi AVA has long been supplying wine grapes to wineries whose production facilities are located outside of Lodi — from giants like E. & J. Gallo to small producers such as Terra Divina Vineyards (who produce REDS and !ZaZin from Lodi old vines).

At the 2014 ZinFest Wine School, for the first time there will be an appearance made by four artisanal winemakers who are based outside of Lodi, and who have done much to enhance the reputation of the region as a source of ultra-premium wine grapes.  These are today’s “cool kids” winemakers; for the most part, producing more natural, minimalist wines — all the more to show off the unique terroirs of Lodi — that appeal to a younger generation of aficionados desperately seeking more “authenticity” in their wines.

For a taste of what these winemakers are doing, we encourage you to drop by the Wine School tent to taste for yourself what the buzz is all about.  The winemakers and their wines:


Panel moderated by Randy Caparoso of lodiwine.com & The SOMM Journal

Nathan Kandler – Precedent Wines
2013 Precedent, Lewis Vineyard, Lodi Chenin Blanc “Sec”

Adam Webb – Odisea & Cochon Wine Company
2013 Flor de Viña, Lodi Verdejo
2010 Odisea, Lodi T3 Tres Tintos (Tempranillo/Graciano/Grenache)

Matthew Rorick – Forlorn Hope Wines
2012 Forlorn Hope, Suspiro del Moro Alta Mesa-Lodi Alvarelhão
2013 Forlorn Hope, Kirschenmann Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel

Tegan Passalaacqua – Turley Wine Cellars
2012 Turley, Kirschenmann Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel
2012 Turley, Dogtown Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel


Precedent's Nathan Kandler, one of our "Lodi Outsiders" speaking at the Lodi ZinFest

Precedent’s Nathan Kandler, one of our  outstanding “Lodi Outsiders” speaking at the Lodi ZinFest Wine School

 Forlorn Hope's Matthew Rorick will be joining the cutting-edge group of "Lodi Outsiders" winemakers at the 2014 ZinFest Wine School

Forlorn Hope’s Matthew Rorick will be joining the cutting-edge group of “Lodi Outsider”-winemakers at the 2014 ZinFest Wine School

Adam Webb of Odisea/Cochon will be the fourth winemaker on our ZinFest Wine School "Lodi Outsiders" panel

Adam Webb of Odisea/Cochon will be showing his Spanish inspired wines as part of the “Lodi Outsiders” panel

Lodi Native winemakers to show Zinfandels at ZinFest Wine School »

ZinFest Wine School

At the Lodi ZinFest Wine Festival taking place in the pristine riparian setting of Lodi Lake Park on Saturday, May 17, 2014, Lodi wine lovers will have the opportunity to taste and discover for themselves what the fuss is all about concerning the Lodi Native™ Zinfandels, which made their debut at the end of March.

All seven of the vignerons behind the Lodi Native project will present their wines under the ZinFest Wine School tent.  The particulars…

(photo courtesy of pullthatcork.com)

(photo courtesy of pullthatcork.com)

4:00-4:40 PM – ZinFest Wine School:  The Lodi Native Project
Moderated by Randy Caparoso – The SOMM Journal & lodiwine.com
Tim Holdener – Macchia Wines
Todd Maley & Chad Joseph – Maley Brothers
Michael McCay – McCay Cellars
Layne Montgomery – m2 Wines
Ryan Sherman – Fields Family Wines
Stuart Spencer – St. Amant Winery

Lodi Native™ is a collaborative project of these six winegrowers of like mind, who all agreed to produce minimalist, terroir driven Zinfandels in California’s Lodi AVA.  This will be your chance to taste all six of the 2012 Lodi Native Zinfandels, and chat with the winemakers themselves.

If you are curious, a number of respected journalists have already filed thorough reports on the Lodi Native project (re our earlier post, Wine writers appreciate Lodi grown Zinfandel).  There was also an excellent blog posted by Nancy Brazil and Peter Bourget of pullthatcork.com this past April 4.

In a piece entitled Lodi Native: A Zinfandel Project Reflective of the Vineyard, this wine writing couple wrote:

What happens when you remove the winemaker from the equation of making wine? Well technically nothing happens, no wine, just raisins. But consider this. What would happen if a group of Lodi winemakers got together, sourced Zinfandel from heritage plantings within the Lodi AVA, agreed to a specified winemaking protocol using what the group describes as “minimalist winemaking practices” to eliminate the winemakers’ personal style, then submitted their wine individually to the group for approval by all members? A lot of hand wringing, heated debate, sleepless nights… yes, almost certainly. But in the end what resulted is a collection of six very special Zinfandels clearly expressive of each vineyard.

Lodi Native winemakers

Randy Caparoso introduces Lodi Native vignerons this past March 29 (photo courtesy of pullthatcork.com)

Brazil and Bourget went on to summarize the project’s history and protocol:

The seed for the Lodi Native project was planted in January 2012 when Randy Caparoso, sommelier and blogger for LoCA (the Lodi Winegrape Commission) gathered together a group of Lodi winemakers to taste their wines with a visiting New York sommelier. From that tasting, a discussion followed as to how Lodi might best highlight its historic Zinfandel vineyards. The goal of producing the most vineyard-expressive Zinfandel possible emerged. The emphasis was to be on the vineyard and the variety, not the winemaking style.

A winemaking protocol was established. Native yeast fermentation only and no inoculation for malolactic fermentation. No adjustment to acid levels. No addition of water or other methods of alcohol reduction. No new oak. “Old vines” (prior to 1962) preferred.

Six winemakers agreed to participate in the Lodi Native project. For some of the winemakers in the group this protocol represents a significant departure from their normal winemaking practices for others, not as much. All committed to making wine following this protocol, stepping outside of their usual comfort zone.

Lodi Native bottles (close)

Six vineyards, all located within the Mokelumne River sub-AVA of the Lodi AVA are represented in this inaugural bottling. The Mokelumne River area is the historic heart of Zinfandel in Lodi, with original plantings dating back to the 1800s. The oldest existing vineyard was planted in 1888. The soil is mostly Tokay sandy loam, with some variation. Soil in the eastern portion of the AVA (east of Hwy 99) tends to be deeper, sandier soil. In the western portion, the sandy soil tends to be shallower and contain more organic matter.

The Lodi Native project and its wines were presented to the public for the first time on March 29. Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) and Lodi Winegrape Commission hosted the presentation which included an educational seminar, escorted vineyard tours, winemaker reception and BBQ-themed dinner. The vineyards were wet, but beautiful, due to the rainy day…

To read the rest of Brazil and Bourget’s highly detailed report on the Lodi Native project’s debut on March 29, 2014, please visit their site at pullthatcork.com.

And of course, to experience these exciting, terroir driven Zinfandels for yourself, please see the Lodi Native group under the ZinFest Wine School tent on May 17th!

Lodi Native Tasting

Debut of Lodi Native Zinfandels on March 29, 2014 (photo by pullthatcork.com)