The next stop on the Lodi wine trail was at Mohr-Fry Ranches to get a view of the gnarled old vines that made Lodi famous. We parked on the road next to certified historical vineyard, Marian’s Vineyard. which holds 8.3 acres of old vine Zinfandel planted on its own roots. The vineyard sits on Lodi’s west side and is located in the highly esteemed Mokelumne River AVA. This historic vineyard was started in 1901. It sits on sandy soils on the Mohr-Fry Ranches property. Owner, Jerry Fry named the vineyard after his mother. It is currently farmed by father/son team Jerry and Bruce Fry.
The Mohr-Fry property consists of vineyards and orchards, along with diversified row crops. They grow twelve varieties of wine grapes, two varieties of cherries and over twenty-five varieties of dry heirloom beans. The agricultural history of the Mohrs and Frys extends back to the 1850s when Bruce Fry's great-great-grandfather on Jerry's mother's side, Cornelius Mohr left his job on a whaling ship in the port of San Francisco to move inland to become a farmer.
Bruce Fry, Jerry’s son, is a 5th generation farmer. He joined our group in the vineyard to share how Marian's Vineyard became one of the first vineyards in California to be certified sustainable under the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing. Stuart Spencer of St. Amant Winery and Chad Joseph, winemaker at Oak Farm Vineyards, also joined us and brought wines made from the fruit of the Mohr-Fry Ranches vineyards with them.
Tasting the Terroir
Oak Farm Vineyards Block 417 Mohr-Fry Ranches Zinfandel 2017 - This vineyard block was the first in Lodi to be Lodi Rules Certified in 2005. The 6,472 vines are head trained and own-rooted, they were planted in 1945. The block is over 14 acres with vines spaced about 10 feet apart. The soil is comprised of fine sandy loam. Only 245 cases of this wine were produced. Despite the 15% abv, the wine has a lighter, more medium bodied feel, it is well structured with fresh acidity. It has elegant floral aromas and bright red cherry/berry fruit flavors throughout the smooth, lingering finish.
St Amant ‘Marian’s Vineyard’ Old Vine Zinfandel 2017 - Deep, dark and rich, Spencer jokes that it is the “mother of all Zins” giving a nod to the vineyard named after Jerry Fry’s mother. The wine is full bodied with aromas and flavors of mixed berries with a lingering spicy note throughout the persistent finish.
Lodi Native ‘Marian’s Vineyard’ Zinfandel 2017 - Vibrant and plush with mixed berry aromas and flavors, a light floral note, followed by a hint of black pepper into the lengthy finish. I was introduced to this label on a previous trip to Lodi in 2016, I had the opportunity to taste all of the wines in the line at that time, read more about the wines tasted on that trip here at An Unadorned Taste of Lodi's Old Vine Vineyards.
All of these wine are highly recommended.