Fighting Terror with Terroir

"Lodi was famous for wines," lamented John Beckman, a city councilman. "Suddenly we became famous for terrorists."

It’s not hard to understand the frustration that Councilman Beckman feels. His little town out outskirts of the Bay Area is becoming more and more connected with terrorism as the trial of two Lodi men on terrorism charges has gained national attention.

This is an interesting PR situation for Lodi wineries and wineries that put "Lodi" on their label to indicate this is the region where the grapes for their wines were grown. First, they have to assess the degree to which this negative publicity for "Lodi" has or will affect sales of Lodi wines. Then they have to ask themselves is there anything we can do about it?

I suspect that there will be little lingering affects of bad publicity. But more important, Lodi wines have been raised up in stature to such a degree over the past decade that there is no reason for a vintner to run away from this appellation.

There was a time not very long ago when Lodi may not have been the kiss of death if it showed up on a label, but it certainly didn’t help sales. That started to change in 1991 when growers in the Lodi area voted to fund the "Lodi-Woodbridge Wine Grape Commission" and hired Mark Chandler to run the organization. Since then the appreciation and reputation of Lodi wines has risen steadily in the eyes of vintners who were asked to take a second look at the region and with consumers who discovered some outstanding wines, many from Old Vines, were being made with Lodi fruit.

I hate to say it, but, Lodi is about terroir…(sorry)….not terrorism (I can’t believe no one stopped me from writing that).

Lodi is best know for Old Vine reds. A number of local wineries have gained deserved attention for their wines including Lucas Winery, Spenker Winery and Jessie’s Grove.

An even better way of assessing the appreciation for Lodi wines is looking at whom from outside the Lodi region are buying its grapes and making wine with the Lodi label on the bottle. Consider these names: Ravenswood, StarryNight, Kenwood, Cosentino, Turley.

I think it highly unlikely that Councilman Beckman and the Lodi community will have to live with any negative tags for any length of time. As for the local wine growing community, their fate was set when they decided to make the very best of their old vine grapes. Anyone with an itch for excellent wine will still seek out Lodi-borne wines.

4 Responses

  1. Fredric Koeppel - April 5, 2006

    Surely that town got more lasting negative PR from Creedence Clearwater Revival:
    “Oh, Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again.”

  2. Erwin Dink - April 5, 2006

    I hadn’t heard about the Lodi terrorists but I’m glad their (alleged) existence gave you the opportunity to make that horrific pun.
    It was only several months ago that I started noticing wines from Lodi, in particular I ran across several old vine zinfandels. By coincidence, I also stumbled on a wine forum post wherein a couple people were posting disparraging remarks about wines from Lodi.
    Based solely on the few wines I’ve tasted from there and the fact that it’s close to the Bay Area I have decided that I will visit Lodi on my next annual trek to SF and wine country. I’m glad to see you make some positive and hopeful commments about this new (to me) region.

  3. Jonathan Wetmore - April 7, 2006

    As you have said-Lodi is best known for it’s Zinfandel-Lodi also produces some wonderful Petite Sirah,Carignane,Syrah & Spanish Varietals. Lodi is a must stop on any wine tasting tour. Lodi now has more than 55 wineries in the area as well as many tasting rooms. Come see us!!!

  4. Skyclemekclef - August 16, 2008

    I’m new here, just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.

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