5 Artisanal Wine Producers
Fields Family is a partnership between winemaker Ryan Sherman, who sells real estate by day and grew up in Lodi, and Russ Fields, a busy attorney originally from Stockton.
They started out making wines they would want to drink—crossing fingers that their palates would be commercially viable. Sure enough, plenty of others enjoyed their elegant, small-lot Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel, in addition to a few other wines.
“We’ve been long-term generations of growers in Lodi , but we’re relatively young in the winemaking world,” says Sherman. “It’s great to see this grassroots movement of making something different.
“We approach our wines as these are the types of wines we’ve enjoyed from California or the world. Is it possible to do something like that here in Lodi?”
Sherman is a fan of native fermentation. He prefers to use little oak for aging his wines and leaves them unfined and unfiltered.
“We can say, taste these wines, year after year. There’s a commonality from that vineyard we think is pretty special, and I enjoy and embrace vintage variation.”
Fields’s first release was the 2008 vintage, which totaled 300 cases. Production has grown to 1,600 cases with the 2013 vintage, the most wine Sherman has ever made.
“Lodi’s not pretentious, we share information,” Sherman says. “I always say to winemakers who come by asking questions, ‘My competitor’s Budweiser, it’s not you. Go make good wine. I’m happy to help you out.’ ”
Sherman sources Tempranillo from McCay’s Lot 13 vineyard, some of the oldest planted in Lodi, he suspects, outside of Bokisch.
The partners also make an estate Syrah from vines they believe were planted more than 20 years ago and constitute one of Lodi’s first certified organic Syrah vineyards.
“Everything’s pretty much 100%,” he says of the wines. “Vineyard, vineyard, vineyard all the way through.”