Lodi, California, located between San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada mountains, is famous for its ability to create world-class wines from rich, bold fruit. For this month’s six pack, we’re featuring Lodi BBQ wines of all kinds - roses, whites and reds - but if you’re new to Lodi, let’s give you the down-low before we introduce you to these fabulous wines!
Most of the winegrowing families in Lodi have been in the region for four or five generations, with their heritage tracing back to Portugal, Italy, and Germany, among others. In the late 1800s, vineyards were developed near the community of Lodi, and then further along the banks of the Mokelumne River. The area is an agricultural haven in both soil and weather; its classic Mediterannean climate has cool breezes that provide the region with natural air conditioning throughout the growing season. This climate allows Lodi winegrowers to cultivate balanced, consistent vineyards that produce delicious wines with full, fruit-driven flavours and refreshing natural acidity.
Zinfandel vines were one of the first winegrape varieties planted during California’s gold rush. Continued care by these winegrowing families have allowed these century-old, gnarly vines to thrive even today. Now, Lodi has the highest concentration of Zinfandel vines in California, with over 40% of Zinfandel coming from the region. You might even call it the Zinfandel capital of the world.
Lodi Today and the Lodi Rules
Lodi is predominantly a red wine growing region with Zinfandel its king and Cabernet Sauvignon its best kept secret. But white grapes are grown here too, with Lodi’s wine portfolio boasting a variety of diverse wine varietals from all over the world.
In order to maintain these century-old vines, these family winegrowers are constantly seeking innovation in sustainable viticulture so these vines can be cultivated for generations to come. The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing awards vineyard certification based on the adoption of sustainable farming practices. These are practices that benefit not only the environment, but also the community and local economy. “When you drink a glass of wine made from Lodi Rules-certified grapes, you are supporting a farmer, a vintner, and an entire agricultural community that embraces their responsibility to care for the environment and their neighbors.” (LodiGrowers.com)
Our featured Lodi wines
We’re featuring two wines from Ferdinand Wines as part of the six pack - the 2019 Albariño, a white, and 2019 Graciano, a red. Local vintners have been experimenting with planting Spanish varieties like Albariño, Graciano, Tempranillo and Garnacha, and Ferdinand winemaker Evan Frazier is no exception. Established in 2010 as his side project (he works full time at Kongsgaard), Ferdinand Wines focuses on these lesser grown varietals, with vinification done in a newer style and hands-off manner.
Made from 100% Albariño grown at the Certified Organic Vista Luna vineyard, this white wine honours its Spanish heritage with traditional notes of lime zest and salinity. It’s barrel fermented and rests on lees for eight months, which adds a savoury body and balances the grape’s natural acidity. Pair this with barbecued salmon or a seafood based salad.
This 100% Graciano is made from the process of whole cluster, carbonic fermentation. Thanks to the Lodi fruit, it's vibrantly refreshing with balanced acidity and dense flavours. It has a ripe raspberry quality with flavours of black cherry, violet and spicy black pepper. Pair this with chorizo grilled on the barbecue to complement the peppery notes, or keep it simple by pairing with hot dogs or hamburgers!
Klinker Brick Wines
For over 100 years, the Felten family has cultivated this land with the aim of producing top quality fruit, including taking care of their Old Vine Zinfandel planted by their ancestors in the early 1900s. The Klinker Brick winery got its name from "klinker bricks", which are highly prized bricks that grace many of Lodi's historical buildings, including the winery owner's home. The family’s ultimate goal is to produce world class wine.
Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel
We couldn’t do a Lodi six-pack without a Zinfandel! And this one is particularly special, the pride of Klinker Brick winery. The most rich, intense and multi-dimensional zinfandel tends to be produced from “Old Vines”, and the ones in the Klinker Brick block are between 40 and 120 years old. Due to their age, these vines have fewer clusters of grapes with smaller berry size, which results in yields of more intense sugars, colour and concentration of flavours. These Old Vine wines typically produce wines that are better balanced and that have more body and more structure.
The Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel is their flagship wine, which retains above average acidity due to the Lodi climate with flavour notes of cherry and raspberry. It is barrel fermented, leading to additional flavours of tobacco and cocoa. Pair this wine with a rack of BBQ ribs.
Klinker Brick Rosé
This rosé's balanced freshness and aromatics, mouthwatering acidity, crisp and refreshing texture, and notes of strawberry and white peach make for a perfect wine for a hot summer's day. Pair it with a classic Mediterannean-French dish like tuna nicoise salad.
Lodi Wine Company Merlot
This solid Merlot from Lodi City Winery is a traditional wine grounded in seven generations of a family’s commitment to fertile California agriculture. The fruit (78% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Alicante Bouschet) was harvested at the peak of flavour and fermented in stainless steel tanks before barrel aging in old oak for 12 months. This bright wine has notes of raspberry, cherry and strawberry, with secondary aromas of vanilla and leather. It has a medium body, soft approachable tannins and an earthy structure with balanced acidity. Pair with BBQ steak!
Turley Wine Cellars is a world-famous, certified organic winery with 47 vineyards and the oldest Cinsault vines in the country, if not the world, making it a perfect addition to our six pack. Planted in 1886, these vines from the Bechtold vineyard are gnarly, head-trained and planted in their own roots. The Cinsault is light-bodied, tart and exceptionally well balanced. Don’t be deceived by the light colour, as this wine has strong wild berry and floral flavours, with a touch of smokiness and spice. It’s the perfect food-pairing wine and would go with just about anything barbecued!