Lodi, California is a city nestled in the San Joaquin Valley, the wine equivalent of the bread basket of America.
Known as the Central Valley, Lodi sits at the north end of a flat, fertile, produce-rich, 400 mile valley that runs through the centre of the state. But between the valley’s rep for mass market and jug wine, proximity to the San Andreas Fault, and the CCR slight “stuck in Lodi again…” you might question Lodi’s wine production and grape cred. However, with respect to beer swillin’ John Fogerty “… just give me a song and a beer”, to be “stuck” in Lodi in 2016 should be a wine lovers’ dream.
Today, Lodi is shedding that stereotypical baggage and reveling in its status as a premium wine region. Exhibit A? Last year, the AVA (American Viticultural Area) got a credibility boost when Wine Enthusiast anointed Lodi the 2015 Wine Region of the Year. The appellation has worked hard to quietly and strategically distinguish itself from the more industrialized, high volume wine production facilities of the south. Today, Lodi winemakers are crafting a diverse set of varietal wines that are moving the region into a highly respected tier of growers and vintners, giving its northern neighbours, some serious wine tourism competition.
I’m here in Lodi Wine Country to up my blogging game and celebrate the wine success of the region. The 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference – #wbc16 – will feature an impressive roster of blogging pros to help wine writers and wine passionistas hone their craft. Alongside the blog focus will be oenologists and academics from nearby UC Davis, perhaps the most celebrated wine university in the US. We’ll also be meeting 4th and 5th generation winemakers and producers from the Lodi Appellation, including many from the 7 Lodi sub-AVA’s that were approved in 2006.
Lodi producers in sub-appellations Mokelumne River, Cosumnes River, Jahant, Borden Ranch, Alta Mesa, Sloughhouse and Clement Hills have built a strong case for growing European Vitis Vinifera on select soils. In the last decade, vintners have moved beyond the famed, gnarly – and in some cases pre-Prohibition Zinfandel vines – to include over 100 varieties of grapes. The classic Mediterranean climate is a hospitable host to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot but also Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German varieties.
Lodi producers now proudly feature Lodi on their wines, and hold their heads high in the global wine community. With a rich history of Gold Rush debauchery, a cornacopia of fresh produce offerings, and the perfect climate & range of sand, clay and alluvial soils generously washed down from the neighbouring Sierras, I am more than ready to taste the fruits of the Lodi Valley vineyards! Bring it on!!!