Klinker Brick Winery: Rich, Dense, Complex Wines like the Winery Itself
Fifth generation grape growers Lori and Steve Felten are often asked why they gave their winery in Lodi, California the unusual name of Klinker Brick. Heavier than regular bricks, klinker bricks are found in many historical Craftsman-style buildings in the Lodi area, including Steve and Lori’s home. Their deep, rich color and massive density remind the Feltens of the qualities found in their Old Vine Zinfandel.
The Feltens’ vineyards are primarily Old Vine Zin, managed in 15 individual vineyard blocks of vines ranging from 40 to 117 years old. They also grow Syrah. They didn’t start making wine until 1995, when they lost their growing contracts with Gallo and needed to do something with their grapes. They officially became Klinker Brick Winery in 2000, with their first vintage Old Vine Zinfandel. By 2003, their portfolio had grown to three wines—two Old Vine Zins and a Syrah.
The Old Ghost Zinfandel was the brainchild of winery president Lynne Whyte Barnard who joined the winery in 2003 as their director of sales. She was reportedly barrel tasting with Consulting Winemaker Barry Gnekow and singled out one lot, saying it was too good to be blended with the others. Named Old Ghost for the way the morning fog hangs on the gnarly vines, the wine represents the very best lot of Old Vine Zin that they produce annually. It earned 90 points from Wine Enthusiast which described it as “a pleasing example of what big, Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel fruit can be when it’s made well.” In 2010, Winemaker Joseph Smith, who formerly worked for Barry, joined the team.
The wines get a good deal of attention from the media. The Farrah Syrah, a Double Gold medal, Best of Appellation, and Best of California recipient in the 2012 California State Fair Wine Competition, was named for Steve and Lori’s daughter Farrah, who recently joined the team in marketing, representing a new generation of Feltens with a knack for making wine.