The Largest Collection of Gnarly Old-Growth (Vines) in California

It took Joseph Spenker 154 days to walk (yes, walk) across the country back in 1851. Astonishingly, upon reaching Lodi, the furthest thing on his mind was rest. Instead, he went right to work—farming. And of the many things he planted, winegrapes were at the top of the list. Today, many of Joseph Spenker’s vines are still thriving, producing and distinguishing Lodi as having the largest collection of historic old-growth vineyards in North America. But what exactly does that get you besides (should you meet all the criteria) a cool-looking historic plaque to put up in your vineyard? For starters, as sommeliers the world over explain it, the older the vine the more interesting the wine. Which is exactly what progressive winemakers the world over are in search of. And like Joseph Spenker, these trailblazers are making a beeline for Lodi and going straight to work—crafting vineyard-driven varietal wines of some pretty—well, gnarly distinction. Few of them, however, walk here. Most drive, which you will undoubtedly do, as well. Even better, you don’t have to plant anything; you can just sit back and taste.


Published on May 3, 2021