What are now Lodi's most prized, gnarly old vine Zinfandels were mercilessly dumped 15 years ago into mass-produced sweet White Zinfandel. Any unique subtle complexities of flavors were buried in "California"-labeled jug wines.
Now with 80 local wineries and many others putting "Lodi" on the label, wine drinkers view Lodi as a mark of quality, resulting in growing sales of higher-priced bottles. And recently - following in the footsteps of all established world-renowned wine regions - specific vineyard names are showing up on more Lodi bottlings.
Showing off what makes each one of these vineyard-labeled Zins specifically excellent will be the vinous focus of the upcoming Artisan Masters Lodi Wine & Art Auction this Saturday, October 23rd at 6 p.m. at Hutchins Street Square.
With the ultimate black-tie, 5-course Zin winemaker dinner (including Smoked Grimaud Farms Duck and Creekstone Farms Filet Mignon) as the evening's centerpiece, attendees will sample the best of the 2008 and 2009 vintages straight from the barrels of 16 of Lodi's Zin masters, such as the Lucas ZinStar Vineyard and Van Ruiten Sideways Vineyard.
And these barreled Zins ranging from elegant to blockbuster will all be auctioned along with copious works of art from Lodi's growing community of fine artisans to support our next generation of Lodi chefs, artists and winegrowers through scholarships and grants.
I'm excitedly looking forward to attending Artisan Masters, where $225 per person gets you a dinner seat with a winemaker and an evening full of great art, music, food, wine and conversation. (I hope my wedding-day tuxedo still fits.) Call the Hutchins Street Square ticket office at 209-333-5550 or visit TheArtisanMasters.com.