This past week, I noticed that Lodi winemakers and their cellar crews were showing obvious signs of wear after having reached the peak of harvest.
It's no wonder with their punch-drunk bodies subjected to long hours of cleaning, crushing, pressing, and barreling down bin after bin of winegrapes.
By now, most of Lodi's Zin is bubbling away in bins or stainless steel tanks set to keep them fermenting safely below 85˚ F. Absolutely everyone is very excited about the superb quality they're seeing this year.
Vineyards yielding excellent Zin last week include Lucas ZinStar, http://www.jgwinery.com/" target="_blank">Jessie's Grove 121-year-old Royal Tee, Jupiter Vineyard for McCay Cellars, Burney's Vineyard and Marisa Vineyard for http://www.klinkerbrickwinery.com/" target="_blank">Klinker Brick, and Cory Ranch for http://www.middleridge.com/" target="_blank">Middle Ridge Winery down in Idyllwild, California.
http://www.wildrosevineyards.com/" target="_blank">WildRose Vineyards winemaker AJ Maley reported a range in ripeness in the most recent Zin pickings from 24˚ Brix (3.40 pH/0.84 TA) up to 29˚ Brix (3.86 pH/0.50 TA). That last one would pack a wallop if allowed to reach its potential of near 16% alcohol.
Gregg Lewis, winemaker/owner of Dancing Fox, took a look at his newly-picked Tempranillo and Merlot and described them as, "Excellent this year." More Tempranillo and Sangiovese went to http://www.kidderwines.com/" target="_blank">Kidder Family Winery and http://www.estatecrush.com" target="_blank">Estate Crush, which added to a collection of client lots some fresh Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Primitivo, and Zin.
http://www.robertmondavi.com/wbrm/" target="_blank">Woodbridge Winery took in Joe Cotta's Merlot at 24.6˚ Brix (3.49 pH), while Kidder crushed their own Viognier, Vino Con Brio crushed Mourvèdre, and Watts Winery crushed Dolcetto, Syrah and Zin.
Lodi's rising star, the late-season-ripener Petite Sirah, began the journey to wine at Kidder, http://www.fieldsfamilywines.com/_home/index.php" target= "_blank">Fields Family, Vino Con Brio, and Peirano (25.8˚ Brix).
Peirano's 2008 Heritage Collection Petite Sirah ($14), by the way, was the one and only "Best of Show" award winner at the http://www.sjvgrapes.org/warmweather_results.htm" target= "_blank">San Joaquin Valley Wine Competition held last month.
While quality is up, quantity is definitely coming down. The late-August heat spike took a toll on many other areas of California, turning succulent grapes to dried raisins. The National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento http://westernfarmpress.com/grapes/california-crop-production-cotton-grapes-oranges" target="_blank">now predicts California's 2010 crop will weigh-in at 3.3 million tons, down 12 percent from last year's record crop.