Naked Behind the Scenes

So proud of Lodi wines – notes from the Wine Bloggers Conference

This year’s wine bloggers conference is in Lodi, California – and it really brings home the impact Angels are having on wine in this region.

There are 3 things that are really clear to me:

  • Lodi is now a world-class wine region
  • Angels already play a huge role in the future of Lodi
  • It is exceptionally rewarding to be a part of the Lodi story

Lodi is a world-class wine region

So this first part probably doesn’t need to be explained in massive detail. The short version, for those with short attention spans, is that I am tasting mind-blowing wines all weekend. The winemaking zeitgeist in Lodi is sophisticated, classy and showcases exceptional quality (even before you take a peek at its wines’ very reasonable price tag).

This needs to be said because there was a time when Lodi was producing a lot of mediocre wine. At the time, sweet drinkable wine is what the majority of the country wanted. But that’s the past. Things have improved incredibly. And the winemakers at the cutting edge are delivering outstanding wines. And I’m not the only one saying that – they recently got named wine region of the year!

Rowan sends a lot of emails touting the quality of Lodi wines so this isn’t news to Angels…

Angels already play a huge role in the future of Lodi wine

With over 90,000 Angel investors signed up to support independent winemakers around the world, we have made a huge impact in vineyards all over the place – and Lodi is a big part of that. Stephen Millier (Ironstone), David Akiyoshi (Lange Twins), and Karen Birmingham (Lange Twins), among others, are superstars in the region. And a large part of their success is directly related to the millions of their bottles that Angel have funded. Yes, literally millions.

This conference has driven home the idea that Lodi has done a lot of work to catch up to the rest of the wine world. It’s been fascinating to study Lodi’s past and see how it got to where it is today. But now I’m hungry for more. I want to see Lodi’s future. I keep wondering why we’re not talking more about the future.

And then I realized, holy crap – we ARE part of Lodi’s future. By funding talented winemakers in Lodi… by pouring their wines for our friends… and by keeping a place for Lodi wines in our hearts and minds (oy this is getting cheesy)…

We are ushering in a new era for Lodi. <this is where I want to post a really awesome picture – blame the wifi!>

It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of the Lodi story

When we support Lodi, we’re supporting a hardworking agricultural community – which feels very different than certain valleys rampant with million-dollar wineries and correspondingly expensive wine consultants.

This is an underdog region full of people who might look quaint at first glance. But they’re sharp and they’re driven, and we shouldn’t mistake their lack of ego for a lack of ability or sophistication.

These farmers can be cajoling each other one second, making deprecating jokes about how their contracts used to be written on napkins… and the next second they’re communicating very elaborate opinions on how American border policy is affecting agricultural labor in California’s fruit basket.

These are my kind of people.

And Lodi winemakers know what they want to do next…

Just a tease here… people have shown a LOT of love for white wine. While we already fund tons of Chenin (literally) and Chard in Lodi, I bet we’ll be seeing more and more coming out of the San Joaquin Delta. I’ll link to the best posts I see about the white wines we tasted while we’re here rather than bore you with my descriptions.

There’s also a huge focus on Lodi Rules Sustainability. Again, I’ll wait for more talented writers to cover all the details about this… but the point in my mind is that the winemakers LOVE this program. And I’m excited to fund even more winemakers who work with Lodi Rules.

And finally, varietal diversity. While Paso specializes in Rhone, Napa trumpets its Cab, and Willamette makes its name for Pinot, the guys in Lodi want diversity. They want to grow every grape in the world around here. It’s a terrible marketing idea (because you never know what you’re going to get with a Lodi wine), but these winemakers are so passionate about the potential and the exploration, they don’t really seem to care that they’re doing the opposite of what every other well-marketed wine region does.

Thank you for an amazing time, Lodi

It’s been a wonderful week so far at the #wbc16 – I’ve tasted a lot of amazing wine. More importantly, I’ve met a lot of incredible people.

And I feel great about the wine world! Lodi’s showing me that you can still change the wine world. And it’s inspiring.

I just want to go fund a bunch of Lodi winemakers! If you do too, leave a comment (it counts about ten times more if you’re an Angel 😉


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Carol Lynn Coronios
Carol Lynn Coronios
7 years ago

Ryan, what a wonderful weekend/experience! Enjoyed hearing about Lodi – its grapes, its wines, its people. And its dreams.

And WE ANGELS are making those dreams come true! Just like real angels 🙂

Paul D Weil
Paul D Weil
7 years ago

We used to create Web applications for the Lodi wineries, years back – current sites are not our work. Harney Lane, Van Ruiten, Lange Twins, even!

Bring on the Central Valley!

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