Lodi's Legendary Vines

With a grape-growing history that dates back more than 100 years, the Lodi Appellation is home to nearly 80 wineries and around 100,000 acres of premium winegrapes.

Published: 6/15/2015

With a grape-growing history that dates back more than 100 years, the Lodi Appellation is home to nearly 80 wineries and around 100,000 acres of premium winegrapes. Some of these acres date back to the region’s earliest days, when Lodi’s first farmers planted Zinfandel, Cinsault, Carignane, and other hearty cuttings in its promising soils. In 1986, precisely a century after the founding of Lodi’s oldest continuously farmed vineyard, the Lodi AVA was established. It is now widely known and respected for its dedication to sustainable farming and rich heritage, evident in Lodi’s legendary vines.

Bechthold Vineyard Originally planted in 1886 by German immigrant, Joseph Spenker, Bechthold Vineyard is Lodi’s oldest continuously farmed vineyard. It may also very well be the oldest Cinsault vineyard in the entire world. Over the past 130 years, the dry-farmed vines in this 25-acre parcel have flourished. For more than a century, the grapes were believed to be Black Malvaise. But in 2003, they underwent DNA testing at UC-Davis and were identified as Cinsault, the robust, soft, fruity, flavorful grape that thrives in hot growing areas. Today, Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault is some of the region’s most sought-after fruit.

Kirschenmann Vineyard Located on the east side of Lodi in one of the many bends of the Mokelumne River, Kirschenmann Vineyard was first planted in 1915. Delta breezes, cool river waters, and silica-rich sandy soils provide a unique terroir for these own-rooted, head-trained, dry-farmed vines. The vineyard has been owned since 2012 by Turley Wine Cellars’ Winegrower and Winemaker Tegan Passalaqua, who is known as a specialist with old vines. The fruit from this legendary vineyard is bright, intense, and juicy, yielding a perfumed, feminine, and elegant expression of Zinfandel.

Lewis Vineyard The land where Lewis Vineyard lies was approved as the Clements Hills sub-AVA in 2006. Tucked at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it boasts a terroir of cliffs and rolling hills. The Zinfandel planted in this historic vineyard dates back more than 100 years. The vineyard’s well-drained soil and managed canopy yield grapes with unique character.

Lizzy James Vineyard Purchased in 2000 by the George Mettler family, owners of the Harney Lane Winery, the 111-year-old Lizzy James Vineyard is believed to originally have been planted to Cinsault. As the family has been told, it was grafted about a century ago to Zinfandel. Thanks to the tireless energy of Kyle Lerner and Jorja (Mettler) Lerner, Lizzy James has been revitalized and is now home to some of Harney Lane’s most award-winning wines.

Royal Tee Vineyard This five-acre vineyard was planted in 1889 by the same Joseph Spenker who planted the neighboring Bechthold Vineyard three years earlier. Today, several grape varieties are interplanted here, including thick, gnarled vines producing both ancient Carignane and heritage Zinfandel.

Wegat Vineyard Considered a quintessential west side Lodi Zinfandel vineyard, the Wegat Vineyard was first planted in 1958 on drought-resistant St. George rootstock. Today, the 21-acre planting of head-trained vines yields less than three tons of grapes per acre. Its fruit grows in relatively loose clusters with round, lush grapes boasting signature Wegat flavors of boysenberry and blueberry.

As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2015 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.


Kaden-Gene Vineyard Carignane, circa 1935

Lot 13 Faith Vineyard Zinfandel, circa 1915

ZinStar Vineyard Zinfandel, 1978


2012 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel, Lizzy James

2006 Jessie’s Grove Ancient Vine Lodi Carignane

2012 Klinker Brick Old Ghost Old Vine Zinfandel

2010 LangeTwins Centennial Zinfandel

2011 Lucas ZinStar Zinfandel

2012 Mettler Epicenter Old Vine Zinfandel

2013 Michael David Ancient Vine Cinsault

2012 Oak Farm Zinfandel, Wegat Vineyard

2013 Oak Ridge OZV Red Blend

2013 Riaza Old Soul Carignane

2011 Turley Duarte Zinfandel

2012 Van Ruiten Old Vine Zinfandel