How Hot Varietals Make for Exciting Wines: Lodi Wine Region
Napa and Sonoma always get all the attention in California, much like Marsha and Cindy on the old-time classic show, The Brady Bunch. Lodi Wine Country, which could be likened to the often-overlooked Jan, is now emerging with great intensity to claim the limelight.
With a climate just like the Mediterranean, warm
days and cool evenings make for fine growing conditions in the terroir here.
Located just east of the San Francisco Bay on the edge of the San Joaquin and
Sacramento River Delta, the cooling breezes are nature’s blessing to the winegrowers
of the Lodi Wine Region, allowing them to choose unique varietals that truly thrive.
Terroir goes well beyond just the weather though. The
diverse soils that were created thousands of years ago, fed through the Mokelumne
and Cosumnes rivers brought in rich granitic-based minerals which all lend a distinguished
complexity to the wines born in Lodi. The fine, sandy soils were the main site
of production lending fruity flavors with divine silken textures. Recent
expansions though have brought vineyards into areas that were once undeveloped,
and in these areas where the soil has less fertility, the reds are well-structured
while the whites are rather refreshing and lively.
And while Lodi has been a place where vineyards
have thrived since the 1860s, it’s only recently in the last 20 or so years
that anyone has paid it much attention. That hard work is paying off for the
winemakers there who are eager to show wine lovers the sophisticated wines that
can come from the varietals they grow.
Although the Lodi Wine Region isn’t considered a hot
region in terms of temperatures, it’s hot on the market for those looking to
try something different. Lodi has a climate that has yearly highs like those
found in the mid-Napa region and Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley but it is just a bit
warmer during summer. With a more moderate diurnal swing than both Napa and
Sonoma, it lends a distinction for soft, fruit-focused wines.
Reds tend to dominate the region and Lodi is a
haven for the leading varietals that have long thrived in California, including
the much-treasured Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Lodi also hosts over 100
different varietals sprouting up from the soils. Among them are varietals that
have notably thrived in hotter climates yet seem to take well to the California
climate that this region enjoys.
Among these are the Italian Vermentino, a
light-skinned grape that even tends to be obscure in its native European domain
yet creates such beautiful citrusy and stony flavors with a silken finish.
There’s also Aglianico, a grape from ancient Italian times that turns out a
deeply bold red. And let’s not forget the South African Pinotage, which in its
homeland has a rather lackluster reputation but grown in the soils of the Lodi
Wine Region, it emits a ripe berry quality with minerality that make it truly
Perhaps all these little-known grape varieties only
needed a change of scenery to become the legendary creations they are now in the
Lodi Wine Region.