Lodi's younger generation has been accused of a lot of things, but sitting around drinking grandma's traditional deep red wine is not one of them. The new generation of wine drinkers is looking for more: chuckle-inducing logos, light and interesting flavors, something adventurous they can be excited to share with friends.
"They are experimenting," said Rodney Schatz, owner of Lodi's Peltier Station. "They don't want to be limited to what their parents are drinking."
The Lodi wine industry is not exempt from the national trend of trying to appeal to a younger market. Local wineries are trying to create funkier, edgier brands and wines that aren't stuffy or overly sophisticated.
Stewart Spencer, program manager of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, says Lodi has a number of programs targeting younger, emerging wine drinkers, including LoCA, the commission's marketing campaign. It was designed to have a youthful edge in an effort to engage young people and encourage them to discover and explore Lodi wines.
Even the demographics for Lodi's wine events, like Wine and Chocolate Weekend and ZinFest, have been changing. Spencer says they now see a lot more people in their 20s and 30s attending area events.
It may not be a surprise, as the youngest generations grew up watching their parents drink wine, while their parents grew up in homes where beer and liquor were once more common, according to Spencer.
"The research shows that the Millennial Generation, the kids of Baby Boomers, are turning to wine faster than any previous generation," he said.
Local wineries like Michael~David have made a name with their fun and irreverent blends, such as 7 Deadly Zins and Freakshow. Many use plays on words, like Jessie's Grove's most-popular seller, Earth Zin & Fire.
Acampo's Peltier Station created their unique label based around the hype of all things hybrid, as well as the current market and economy.
Looking for more adventure in their wine drinking, the new generation is big into experimentation. Peltier Station's Hybrids — available in six varieties — is a style of wine that is varietal-specific, but has a blend that is noted on the back label, along with a percentage.
"It's a way of introducing the blend to the consumer that they may not have heard (of) in the past," said Schatz, of the hybrids that have been popular since they were revealed nearly two years ago.
While all the talk is around unique names, lively labels and uncommon blends, Schatz isn't entirely confident this trend will be long-lasting. Down the road, he predicts people will return to the classic roots of wine drinking.
"They will say, 'OK, I've tried all these dogs and cats and animals and objects. Now, I want the real original, from the family, from the chateau,'" Schatz said. "I think that's what will evolve."
But for now, Schatz says, "The party's on."
Contact Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.