A Toast to the Beginning of Lodi’s Harvest Season

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We’ve come to know (and love) California’s Lodi growing region — about 85 miles northeast of San Francisco — for its Zinfandel wines.

Many of the Zinfandel vines in Lodi are upwards of a century old, hence their designation as “old vines.”

Lesser known is that Lodi produces dependably good renditions of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, among other varieties.

And the “dirty little secret” of the wine industry is that Lodi grape growers sell a lot of their fruit — and we do mean a lot — to wineries in Sonoma County and Napa Valley.

Wineries whose names you would recognize.

They use the juice from Lodi grapes to “fill out” their various cuvees because the fruit costs less without sacrificing quality in the bottle.

But even if you were aware of Lodi’s contribution to many Sonoma and Napa wines, we’ll bet you didn’t know that the region produces a significant amount of sparkling wine.

It’s true, and as this report indicates, the harvest of grapes earmarked for sparkling wine has begun in Lodi.

That’s worthy of celebration — perhaps with a glass of already-on-your-wine-rack sparkling wine? — because it basically kicks off the harvest season in California.

We’ve heard of some limited picking in small pockets around the state, but now, with each passing day, harvest crews will be getting busier and busier. Vineyard managers and winemakers are now monitoring sugar levels in the grapes closely so that the crews can be summoned at precisely the right time for picking. They’re also staying on top of weather reports because, on occasion, grapes will be brought in early if a potentially damaging rainstorm is in the forecast.

Each grape variety has its own distinct harvest “requirements” — parameters that, if adhered to, help to ensure top quality in the bottle.

Now that the harvest of grapes earmarked for sparkling wine has begun in Lodi, the activity level throughout wine country will gradually intensity.

Here’s hoping Mother Nature cooperates — for the growers, the wineries, the wine retailers and, of course, us wine lovers.

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