Lodi’s Fortunes Are Rooted In Old Vine Zinfandel
BY KATHY CASTEEL
“Oh! Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again …”
Berkeley native John Fogerty had never visited Lodi before he penned his plaintive ode to the California farming town; he says he chose the town for the ’69 classic rock ballad “Lodi” because the town had “the coolest sounding name.” It’s probably just as well — had Fogerty known of the exquisite creativity afoot in the vineyards of Lodi, the fortunes of Creedence Clearwater Revival might never have been the same.
Lodi is old-vine country, home of some of the best Zinfandel in the world. Stretching from the Sierra foothills to the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, the region’s Mediterranean climate — warm, breezy dry summers and cool, foggy wet winters — offers a diverse terroir that nurtures a wide range of varietals, from Albariño to Zinfandel. The region produces more than 40 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel in styles ranging from medium to full-bodied with intense red and black fruit flavors. The Zinfandel vines are longtime Lodi residents, with some plantings dating back to 1888.
These vines have put down deep roots to exhibit their staying power. Generally, by the time grapevines of other varietals are about 20 to 40 years old, they produce smaller crops of decreasing quality, leaving vintners with little reason to cultivate grapes of lesser quality and lower yields, so they replant. Not so with Zinfandel, which can produce consistent, concentrated grapes year after year in naturally low yields. The older the vine, the smaller the berry and the bigger the flavor.
Oak Ridge Winery’s Old Zin Vines Zinfandel delivers a signature wine from Lodi vines that are 50 to 100 years old. The blend of 96 percent old vine Zinfandel with 4 percent Petite Sirah offers a sweet, fruitful aroma that leads to a classic blackberry/raspberry flavor with a trace of blueberries and a dusting of cocoa. The tannins of the Petite Sirah give the wine backbone and neutralize any sweetness you might expect from the jammy aroma. Full-bodied and smooth, the finish lingers nicely. OZV Zinfandel pairs well with barbecue, pizza, burgers or any patio fare for a great spring and summer go-to wine.
It’s only fitting that Oak Ridge — the oldest winery in Lodi —would produce this fine old vine Zin. Recent OZV vintages have earned kudos from Wine Enthusiast and Beverage Dynamics, and garnered a pile of gold medals from such competitions as Jerry Mead’s New World International, the Ultimate Wine Challenge, Los Angeles Wine Competition, Pacific Rim, Dallas Morning News Wine Competition and the California State Fair, where it snagged a score of 95.
OZV is readily available in Columbia. Check with your favorite local wine merchant.
Much of California’s early Zinfandel vines were planted during the Gold Rush, which is why there are so many old vineyards in the Sierra foothills.