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in California State

Tuesday, 31 October 2017 13:28

Wine Pick of the Week

Toad Hollow Cab S Picmonkey

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon


Toad Hollow Vineyards


Alcohol: 13.9%

Suggested Retail: $ 16.99

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 21:51

2017 Silvaspoons Verdelho Harvest

By Randy Caparoso

6:30 AM, this past Tuesday, August 22 in Lodi’s Alta Mesa appellation: Ron Silva’s harvest crew had already filled three half-ton macro-bins of just-picked Silvaspoons Vineyards Verdelho – green tinted golden, oval shaped orbs of tropical fruit sensations, zapped with palate slaking, lemon-lime acidity.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:57

Michael David donates to the Animals

TASTE News Service, January 25, 2017 -- Michael David Winery is donating $25,000 to PAWS (The Performing Animal Welfare Society) in hopes that it will bring awareness and education to this great organization.

Saturday, 21 January 2017 19:53

Wine Pick of the Week

Woodbridge cabernet merlot Picmonkey

2014 Cabernet Merlot


Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi


Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $15.75* 1.5L

Tuesday, 25 October 2016 12:55

October 14, 2016 Wine Pick of the Week

FreakshowRed 900 Picmonkey

2014 Freakshow Red


Michael David Winery


Alcohol: 15.5%

Suggested Retail: $20

Friday, 22 January 2016 14:42

January 22, 2016 Wine Pick of the Week

woodbridge sauv blanc Picmonkey2013 Sauvignon Blanc


Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi


Alcohol: 12.9%

Suggested Retail: $ 6.25 (750ml), $ 12 (1.5L)


“Woodbridge wines are good quality, value-priced options from the second label of the Napa Valley winery founded by Robert Mondavi 50 years ago. Woodbridge is just north of the city of Lodi and is included in the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA).

“The Mondavi family has a long history with the Lodi and Woodbridge growing regions (both the late Robert and his brother, Peter, the 101-year old patriarch of Charles Krug Winery, graduated from Lodi High School in the early 1930s). Grapegrowing here goes back much farther than that, however, and there are some still-productive vineyards that were planted in the 19th Century.

Friday, 13 November 2015 13:23

November 13, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

barefoot zinfandel Picmonkey

Zinfandel (N/V)




Suggested Retail: 750ml $7, 1.5L $10.*

*average retail prices nationwide


“Recently we saw long-time wine writer Dan Berger’s comments about Barefoot Zinfandel and figured with his recommendation it had to be good. It is.

“Fruit for this wine comes from the Lodi appellation, which is about 45 miles south of Sacramento. In recent years vineyard acreage has increased hugely in the area. Though many varieties are grown successfully here, Zinfandel has always been regarded as Lodi’s signature grape.

CA State Fair rosette

By Dan Clarke

Sacramento, California June 18, 2015 - Today the California State Fair announced winners of its 2015 Commercial Wine judging. Wines selected as Best of Show in both red and white categories were made from varieties native to Spain and relatively obscure in this country. Moreover, the grapes were grown and vinified in regions obviously capable of producing great wine, though perhaps not well-known by the average consumer.

Picked as Best of Show Red was the 2012 Tempranillo from El Dorado County’s Lewis Grace (Grace Patriot) winery. Honors for Best of Show White went to the 2014 Albarino entry from Oak Farms Vineyards in the Lodi appellation.

While many “Cult Cabernets” are now priced way over $100 a bottle, 72 of the best wine judges in California chose a wine retailing at $30 as 2015’s best red wine. Though top quality Chardonnay, California’s most popular and most prestigious white wine, can approach—and even exceed—$50, those same judges declared that the $19 Oak Farms Vineyards Albarino is the best white wine of 2015.

This year's wine competition consisted of 2,881 wine entries received from 743 participating winery brands. Seventy-two judges on 18 panels awarded 57 Double Golds and 254 Golds, and the top winners showed the diversity of California wine, coming from around the state and from wineries of every size.

“California's 78,000 farms and ranches produce roughly half of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States; and our grape industry accounts for 90 percent of all wine consumed in America. As one of the oldest professional wine competitions in the nation, we are extremely pleased that for the second year in a row the State Fair has seen increased participation in our prestigious wine competition,” said Rick Pickering, CEO of the California State Fair. “With more than 2,800 wine entries from 700 plus wineries, the State Fair continues to be an enormous showcase of the Best of California."

The first State Fair Wine Competition was held in 1855. The competition is the oldest and one of the most prestigious wine events in the country. Top wines, including Best of Region and Best of California winners, will be featured at the State Fair in Sacramento ain the Save Mart Supermarkets Wine Garden for visitors to enjoy July 10-26.

Comprehensive information on all the winners of this year’s California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition is available here.

Editor’s Note: If you’re planning to visit the wine country of El Dorado County or of the Lodi appellation, first check out Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of all the Wineries, as well as links to the websites of hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 00:23

Zinfest at Lodi Lake

 Zinfest PickmonkeyZinfest arrivees picked up their glasses by the lakeby Dan Clarke


Lodi grows about one-third of all the Zinfandel grapes in the U.S. While justly famed for its Zins, the area also produces a diverse array of other varietals. Curiously enough, it was Lodi's just-concluded Zinfest that showcased many of these wines.

Zinfest has a ten year history. The cornerstone event is an outdoor tasting held at Lodi Lake. On Saturday over 40 area wineries poured samples of their Zinfandel, of course, but many had other wines to taste, too. The festival actually is more than a one-day affair, as many wineries welcome visitors with tours and open houses on Sunday. A few wineries even arranged special dinners for the evenings preceding the big Saturday tasting. Beyond the tasting and the socializing, attendees had other diversions, as they could drop by tents devoted to the Zinfest cooking and wine schools. Separate areas were home to barbecue and barrel building demonstrations. Music was played on a main stage, and at a comfortable, outdoor piano bar. The Vintners' Regatta featured a parade of vessels made from wine barrels and “sailed” by local winemaking teams. Food was available from about a dozen local restaurants and purveyors.

Woman pouring at ZinfestBusy, but not too crowded

While the Lodi wine region has experienced huge growth in recent years, it retains a family farm and small winery feel. Many of the booths were staffed by people whose vineyards supplied grapes for the products being poured. In some cases the pourers were also the winemakers or winery owners.

Offerings at Bokisch Vineyards included a delightful white wine made from the Verdelho grape, which is grown in Lodi, of course, but is a variety native to Portugal. Another white, an Albariño, traces its ancestry to Spain, as did their two reds varieties that Bokisch poured—the Graciano and the Tempranillo. E2 Family Winery also had a Verdelho and Estate Crush, Harney Lane Winery brought their own bottlings of Albariño. Tempranillos were also offered by d'Art Wines, Harney Lane and m2 Wines.

If you wanted to venture beyond the Iberian varieties, there were several wineries whose lineup included wines made from grapes native to the Rhône Valley of France. Acquiese Winery specializes in white wines made from such grapes as Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. H-G Vineyards also produces a Vigonier. Estate Crush makes a Cinsault. Syrahs were offered by Berghold, Klinker Brick, Kidder Family and Michael David. Petite Sirahs were available at the booths of Ironstone Vineyards, McConnell Estates, Peltier Station and Viñedos Aurora. There was even a Rhône blend made by The Dancing Fox. Their “Cote de Renard” comes from grapes grown in the Clements Hills area in the southeastern part of the Lodi Appellation. It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre (sometimes called a "GSM), with the addition of 3% Viognier, a white variety.

Larry Mettler at Zinfest Larry Mettler poured Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon from Mettler Family Vineyards

Wines made from more familiar but-not-Zinfandel varieties, included Chardonnays, Pinot Grigios, Sauvignon Blancs, Barberas, Sangioveses, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. Toasted Toad Cellars even brought their Primitivo.

Visiting an event named “Zinfest” and concentrating on experiencing everything but Zinfandel might seem to be missing the point. However, you can't taste everything in one afternoon and I already know that Lodi is home to greats Zins. Saturday's Zinfest and the Red & White Night that preceded it were the most recent evidences of Lodi's continuing evolution and that it deserves to be taken seriously for more than just its Zinfandel.

Editor's Note: If you're planning to visit this wine region, we suggest you check out the Central Valley section of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of all the wineries, as well as links to the sites of Lodging and Dining options.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 22:54

A Red & White Night in Lodi

Crowd Shot at AcquiesceThe evening began at Acquiesce

by Dan Clarke

When invited to an evening in Lodi billed as “Red & White Night!” I was intrigued. Two wineries, Acquiesce and Macchia, planned to put on a progressive dinner with each pouring its own wines. Macchia specializes in red wines, mostly Zinfandels. The winery produces several bottlings of Zin each vintage, each of them expressing the virtues of specific vineyards. Some years ago I served on a panel of wine writers that was charged with picking a dozen Zinfandel wines to represent Lodi. We judges worked our way though many wines in what is called a “blind tasting” (bottles covered so that we could not identify the producers). My recollection is that four or five of the Zins selected for our final dozen turned out to be Macchia wines. Obviously, winemaker Tim Holdener has a special touch with this variety and I thought any other reds he makes were also likely to be good.

I'd never heard of Acquiesce, whose wines would provide the white contribution to the event. They were fairly new and, frankly, I didn't expect much. But they had chosen to make only white wines. That was unusual enough in this area, but they were making only wines from grapes native to France's Rhône Valley. White wines—but not the ubiquitous Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. This could get interesting.

About 60 people would be attending the red and white dinner, many of them members of the wine clubs of these wineries. Acquiesce would host the evening's first segment and winemaker Sue Tipton suggested I arrive a little early to taste her wines. All were from the 2013 vintage. They included a Grenache Blanc, a Vigonier, a Grenache Rosé and the Belle Blanc (a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier). The latter wine is Sue's version of the little-known white wine of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. All four of these wines were of surprising quality.

Guests began to gather in the Acquiesce tasting room and soon were all enjoying glasses of Belle Blanc and snacking on the goat cheese and smoked trout appetizers. Conversations were animated and an apparent good time being had by all when the word came that it was time to move on to Macchia, a couple of miles to the west. Ten minutes later we were entering the shady Macchia courtyard adjacent the winery where the rest of our evening would be spent. Ordinarily, a May event like this would be held out of doors, but temperatures reached the mid-nineties earlier in the day prompting the move to air conditioned surroundings.

Red and White Centerpiece

I was fortunate to share a table with Sue and Rodney Tipton where I found out more about these people who have charted such an innovative course. The short story is that Rodney's career necessitated they make frequent moves earlier in their married life before settling in Lodi about 15 years ago. The couple lived in many parts of the world prior to that time and along the way Sue developed a fascination with Rhone whites. Though she has made wines at home since 2003, she has been making her own versions of these white wines professionally for just three years. The Tiptons grow 12 acres of Zinfandel on their property, but those grapes go to Gallo's winery, not theirs. Two other Acquiesce wines—the Grenache Blanc and the Viognier—were paired with the first two dishes at this sit-down segment of the evening. These were followed by three courses paired with wines from Macchia—a Barbera, a Zinfandel and a Port-style wine. (see menu below)Short Rib Pairing at Red and WhiteShort Rib Pairing with Macchia "Serious" Zinfandel was brilliant

Sacramento caterer Community Tap and Table provided a creative dinner menu. The food was tasty and helped show the wines to good advantage. For me the most successful course of the evening was the beef short rib with candy carrots accompanied by Macchia 2012 “Serious” Zinfandel. It was splendid. Chef Emily Baime and both winemakers gave the diners brief background on the ingredients and preparation of each course and the wine accompanying it. Sue and Rodney Tipton, Tim and Lani Holdener and their staffs created a very cordial environment for the evening.







Red & White Night


Mint-Smoked Tahoe Trout Tarts with Goat Cheese-Crème Fraiche & Chives

Acquiesce Winery 2013 Belle Blanc


San Joaquin Spring Lettuce and Tarragon Soup with Green Apple Chip

Acquiesce Winery 2013 Grenache Blanc


Cauliflower Salad with Honeyed Onions and North African Olive-Harissa Dressing

Acquiesce Winery 2013 Viognier


“Minnestrone” Pesto Pasta with McFarland Heirloom Beans, Fingerling Potatoes and Blistered Tomatoes

Macchia 2012 “Infamous” Barbera


Lucky Dog Ranch Braised Beef Short Ribs with Candy Carrots

Macchia 2012 “Serious” Zinfandel


Decadent Chocolate Fudge Brownie “Sundae” drizzled with Port

Macchia 2011 “Dangerous” Port


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