Did you know that Lodi, California is the unofficial “Zinfandel Capital of the World?” This claim is not just due to Lodi’s hallmark event, Zinfest, which brings local winemakers and wine lovers together every May for tasting and learning about this varietal. Lodi is considered the Zin capital of the world because our vineyards produce about 40 percent of the premium Zinfandel in California and because Lodi Zin has unique characteristics that appeal to aficionados and everyday wine drinkers alike. Let’s take a look at the three main reasons why Lodi has become so well known for this grape varietal:
Lodi’s Unique Setting
In the world of wine, “terroir,” the French word for land, represents the unique place where grapes are grown. The concept of terroir encompasses the soil, geography, and climate of the region. Depending on the winemaking process used, the terroir can be expressed to varying degrees in the final product. In Lodi, many of the old growth Zinfandel vineyards feature un-grafted, un-trellised vines that grow free like trees. The older vineyards are also close to the banks of the Mokelumne River, where the soil is fine sandy loam. The unique growing style and soil composition results in the bold, intense red flavor and silky texture that old growth Lodi Zinfandel is noted for. Lodi’s wine region is divided into seven distinct areas or sub-appellations, all with different soil types and therefore unique-tasting wines. Each area or sub-appellation will produce unique tasting wines due to soil conditions and geography. Take a wine-tasting tour to sample all of the different styles of wine available in the area!
Lodi’s Gorgeous Climate
A pleasant, Mediterranean climate keeps Lodi residents, visitors, and winemakers happy. Mild year-round temperatures, warm days, and cool nights all help produce grapes with full-flavor and perfect acidity. Lodi receives most of its annual rainfall in the winter and experiences a dry grape-growing season, which deters harmful pests and diseases from damaging the vines.
Local Winemaking Traditions
Many of the old growth Zinfandel vines in Lodi date back to the 1880s and early 1900s. Some local families have wine-making roots that go back as far as five generations, and a few families even have ties back to old world winemakers. Lodi’s Zinfandel grapes were able to survive throughout the 20th century, even during Prohibition and the region’s Zinfandel grapes were in high demand when White Zinfandel gained mass-market appeal in the late 70s and 80s. In 1986, the Lodi region was officially recognized and winemakers could now put the Lodi Appellation on their labels. Today Lodi is home to more than 80 wineries and seven distinct sub-appellations and the area is especially renowned for its Zins. For more information on wine tasting in Lodi, view our list of local wineries or wine trail map. If you're in Lodi stop by our Visitors Center and pick up a Visitors Guide with a wine trail map inside!