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Wine by Design

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Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2010 10:32 pm

What do you do with a houseful of out-of-town family on that day after New Year's?

Show off the newest of Lodi's wineries, Jeremy Wine Company, conveniently located Downtown next to the Old Lodi Arch, at 6 West Pine Street.

Both the wine and the name come straight from Jeremy Trettevik himself - serial entrepreneur and Renaissance man of the Leonardo da Vinci mold - who, along with co-owner wife Choral and canine companion Ladybug, have helped other wineries sell wine over the last couple of decades.

Starting in the wine industry as a lowly cellar rat for Sebastiani, he quickly rose from the barrels to the cleaner job of wine sales at Gnekow Family, where he gained an appreciation for the hardest part of making wine: selling it.

Soon, a love for fine art in all forms injected into his blood by his mother, Carolyn Relei - a respected glass artist and author of several stained glass pattern and coloring books - called him back to design.

He launched his first successful company, Vision Etching in his garage and later in a blue steel warehouse on Guild Avenue. You'd often catch him with goggles on, midway through sandblasting a Michael-David logo onto a gigantic bottle while a platoon of smaller bottles for weddings and whatnot crawled through a heating kiln to bake on silk-screen.

A few years of tweaking artwork for the better to work with silk-screens, along with bumping into an old illustrator friend, led to the formation of label and Web site design studio 6 West Design, adjoining the new tasting room.

When you stand back and take in the display of wines from Lodi wineries at the Visitor Center, about a third of those labels were designed by 6 West. The haunting mystery train emerging from smoke for Peltier Station is one of my favorites, along with the cool elegance of Harney Lane.

Jeremy's design for his own labels represents the crowning achievement of his years of experience, and was quickly featured on several highly-regarded design Web sites. In his typical exacting style, some graphic element is hand-applied to each and every bottle.

As for the design style of wine in the bottle, he says: "I make wine that I like to drink, so I'm shooting for some earthy flavors along with strong fruit forward."

Jeremy makes his wine south of Lockeford at Aaron Kidder's new winery, a family affair with both sets of spouses personally touching nearly every grape they de-stem to make sure they are of the highest quality without a trace of MOG (Material Other than Grape).

His current favored child is his 2008 Amador County Syrah ($22), full of smooth mouth-coating tannins with a medley of strawberry jelly, tea, anise and a hint of mint. It made a nice pairing with the December-grilled tri-tip I just devoured, and an even better match to a grilled Hillshire Farm Smoked Turkey Sausage.

With previous experience developing the concept for Downtown's upscale cellardoor, he turned an 1850's saloon bar from Wyoming into the centerpiece for his tasting room that is quickly becoming a success story. Despite having been open for only 2 months, visitors - especially those with relatives named Jeremy - have already bought up half of his first production release of 270 cases.

You'd be wise to stake your claim Sunday, January 2 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., or even New Years Eve until 3 p.m. Call 209-367-3773 or visit his self-designed Web site at

In my mind, Christmas is about family and New Year's is about friends. Not only is Jeremy one of Lodi's most passionate, self-sacrificing unsung heroes, to me he is one of my few close friends.

Have a wine and joy-filled New Year!