07 February, 2018

Look no farther than Lodi for a fun February getaway

Looking for the perfect place to unwind your post holiday Blues?  Look no farther than Lodi How do you get there? Read on.  To me, Lodi was a land of heat and Zin I had always meant to visit, but had never quite gotten around to going.  Shame on me!  Turns out, Lodi is a magical place of delicious farm fresh food, delightfully diverse wine, and dedicated people who bring the best of place forward for the rest of us to enjoy.
Old Codger

One of the reasons I put off visiting was the "Shangri La" nature of how to get there.  My friends in Sacramento said it was "20 minutes. 45 minutes. 2 hours" away.  My friends from San Francisco said it was "1 hour, 2 hours. 5 hours" away. Turns out, it is an easy hour and 45 minutes from the East bay and a fun drive.  I left the gritty flat lands of Oakland, zipped through Contra Costa suburbs and quickly found myself on an implausibly bucolic highway, with covered bridges and dappled shade between stretches of authentic farmland.  With more levees and water than mile markers, the road wended me toward the Lodi Wine Commission's Lodi Wine and Visitor Center.  There we met our Wine Sherpa,  Randy Caparoso, who graciously shepherded us through a great experience in Lodi.

Parking Lot or Vineyard?  Good taste says vineyard
Randy's knowledge is as deep as his patience, and his love of Lodi is infectious.  One of the first places he took us was to see old zinfandel vines tucked into light industry.  Many thanks to all of us who drank copious amounts of white zin in the 80's, 90's, and Oakland Art and Soul Festivals, because we created market conditions that saved many old vines.  It didn't hurt that the sandy soil of the area is inhospitable to phylloxera and so, many grand, old codgers are still bearing fruit and bringing wine to our tables.

Parking lot to fork #fresh
Speaking of tables, with the produce of the Central Valley fresh at hand, the food is amazing.   Traipsing around vineyards builds up your appetite.  Pietro's Trattoria is a must stop destination for the nexus of local wine and farm-to-fork cuisine.  In fact, they take it one step further and if you are lucky, you will get parking lot-to-fork tomatoes from the rich Lodi soil straight to your salad.  Their kitchen garden makes freshness easy. Pietro's pasta is tender and made from scratch, as are their sauces, which are hauntingly authentic.  The eponymous Pietro and his wife, Amelia Murdaca opened this family-style restaurant in 1957.  Today his son Jim and his wife Annette continue the tradition.  Their son, Peter is already active in the restaurant and will make sure their authentic family recipes continue. A comfortable patio at Pietro's is a  natural spot to hear stories and try wine as you dine al fresco.

Here are some favorites from our lunch:
Sidebar Kerner '14
100% Bacchus
Made by David Ramey with national distribution around 100 cases.
This German variety is a pale clear gold.  Floral aromas and touch of smoke in nose. Amazing fresh mouth feel bracing acidity Lime pith in mid palate and finish

Holman Cellars is a producer in Napa. These Bacchus (bah-KOOS) grapes came from an enchanted glen in Lodi: Mokelumne.  We tried Holman's  2015 Uncharted Bacchus. This 100% Bacchus grape based wine was a medium gold and star bright.  Lovely acidity that jumped out of the glass and a nice color from oxidation

2014 Nimmo Made by Markus Niggli.  This Kerner Gewurtztraminer Riesling Bacchus blend spends time in oak. It gets blended before it is co fermented.  An interesting process that develops into a fascinating wine with sage on the nose and a touch of Chinese 5 spice on the palate along with an overall freshness and minerality. Nimmo is an acronym Markus used to find his way home while on an internship in Scandinavia.

2013 Borra Vineyards Heritage is a field blend of 70% Barbera, 10% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah and 10% Alicante Bouschet.  This is a true expression of terroir.  Field picked  and co-fermented, these grapes produce a wine with warm welcoming primary aromas with deep black spiced fruit underneath.  Driven by the barbera acidity, it is earthy and delicious.  Yields are low at less than a 1/2 ton an acre, but the results are luscious. #worthit

 The name "Heritage" Steve Borra told us, was inspired by his memories of his dad.  He described a scene of his dad who always had a dry salami hanging by a barrel in the basement.  He would funnel wine from the barrel to bottle and drink deeply of his field blend.  The love makes it taste better, I think.

Along the way we would encounter many great stories and a levee full of delicious wine.  For Bloggers attending the 2016 Conference in Lodi, you are in for a treat.

Many thanks to the Lodi Wine Commission, Charles Communications and all the producers who hosted me on this wonderful wine adventure