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An Unadorned Taste of Lodi's Old Vine Vineyards


I recently had the opportunity to taste The Lodi Native Project wines after an old vines tour of the area. In 2012, the Lodi Wine Grape Commission asked winemakers to make a more naked style of 100% Zinfandel wine from designated vineyard areas. These vintners were asked to create low intervention wines made with native yeasts, no new oak barrels, no fining or filtering and no adding acid or water to the wines. The goal was to give a true reflection of these special terroirs.

Wegat Vineyard sits on the west side of the Mokelumne River AVA. The vines were field grafted onto St Augustine rootstock in 1958. This wine is made by Chad Joseph of Maley Brothers. The vines here produce loose clusters with an intense fruit character. This wine had a fruity blueberry/blackberry flavor with an earthy touch of mushroom.

Stampede Vineyard is on the east side in the Clements Hills AVA. The vines are on their own rootstock in sandy loam soil and range from about 80-100 years of age. This wine was crafted by Ryan Sherman of Fields Family Wines, it is more structured, more tannic with cherry and red berry aromas and flavors.

Trulux Vineyard is located on the west side of the Mokelumne River AVA. The vines were originally planted on St Augustine rootstock in 1940's and were head trained and are now over 6 feet tall. The vines produce long loose clusters. The wine is made by Michael McCay of McCay Cellars and also has red fruit flavors but is more savory with dried herbs and a spicy nutmeg note in the finish.

Marian's Vineyard was planted in 1901 and the vines remain on their own roots. It is also located in the Mokelumne River AVA. It is currently farmed by father/son team Jerry and Bruce Fry, the vineyard was named after Jerry's mother. The wine is produced by Stuart Spencer at St Amant Winery. The well draining sandy soil helps to create a bolder Zinfandel with more concentrated dark fruit flavors. This wine was more floral with a slightly peppery finish.

Soucie Vineyard is also located in he Mokelumne River AVA. It is the most western and enjoys more of the cooling effects of the Delta Breeze. Sourced from a vineyard block planted in 1916, the vines are on their own roots in a fine silt soil. This wine was produced by Layne Montgomery of m2 Wines, it was a bit more lush and a little earthier.

Schmiedt Ranch is an 8 acre site located in the bend of the Mokelumne River. It was planted in 1918 and the vines are dry-farmed and sit on their original roots in deep sandy loam. This wine is by Tim Holdener of Macchia Wines, it has concentrated fruit flavors with a silky smooth feel and a long finish.

The next release is the 2014 vintage in November. A six-pack containing one of each is priced at $180 at the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center. These wines are highly recommended.

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