Lodi RulesTM — What Does That Mean?

We recently had the opportunity to participate in an online tasting of wines sourced from vineyards that have been certified as sustainably grown through the Lodi RulesTM certification program. The tasting was organized to celebrate Earth Day by the Lodi Winegrape Commission and Charles Communications Associates on behalf of growers and vintners in the Lodi Appellation. The wines were provided to us as tasting samples, we tasted them and shared our impressions via Twitter during the tasting.

The discussion was moderated by Stuart Spencer of the Lodi Winegrape Commission (he is also the winemaker at St. Amant Winery) and Ben Kolber a local winegrower. Ben is the face of LoCA Thoughts on The Wines of Lodi, CA website, where you will find information about Lodi wines and events.

Lodi Rules Certified GreenLodi RulesTM is the first 3rd-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program in California. The program is certified by Protected Harvest a non-profit organization comprised of environmental leaders that work with the scientific community and grower groups to develop environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices that limit pesticide use, improve soil, water and air-quality.

Certification is based on two components: the Lodi RulesTM standards and the Pesticide Environmental Assessment System (PEAS). The Lodi RulesTM standards are divided into six chapters: Business Management, Human Resources, Ecosystem Management, Soil Management, Water Management and Pest Management. The PEAS system measures the impact of organic and synthetic pesticides used and growers may not exceed a maximum number of points using PEAS. Growers are audited annually to verify farming practices.

Lodi RulesTM was launched in 2005 with 6 vineyards and 1200 acres. Currently, 20,000 acres within the Lodi Appellation and 6,000 acres elsewhere in California are “Certified Green”. Ben indicated he believes he is a better farmer because of these standards and that growers participating in the “Certified Green” program are at the leading edge of the newest farming practices.

Lodi has a long history growing grapes. Since the 1850s wine grapes have been farmed in the area, mostly to supply wineries in other areas. Table grapes have been a significant proportion of the grapes grown in Lodi over the years. Grape growing survived Prohibition and after the repeal of Prohibition it flourished.

The Lodi Appellation was designated in 1986 and in 2006 seven sub-appellations within the Lodi Appellation were recognized. Within the past 15 years, boutique-style wineries have been established. In 2000 there were only 8 wineries in the Lodi area, today there are nearly 80.

Lets see what these sustainably-produced wines have to offer.

2012 Bokisch Albariño2012 Bokisch Vineyards Albariño Terra Alta Vineyard $18. This blend of 95% Albariño 5% Verdelho is the epitome of Markus and Liz Bokisch’s goal to produce Spanish varietal wines in California. This crisp wine has flavors of citrus, melon and minerals with great acidity. It is weightless in the mouth, has outstanding aromatics and a clean finish. Drink this wine by itself, with spicy Thai food, grilled salmon or steamed mussels.

This wine is not only “Certified Green” through Lodi RulesTM it is also “Certified Organic”. One more thing to appreciate about this well-made wine.

2012 LangTwins Sangiovese Rosé2012 LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards Sangiovese Rosé $13. This 100% Sangiovese Rosé is a light strawberry color in the glass. It has an earthy, berry nose which is followed by sweet cherry and berry flavors. The finish is clean thanks to good acidity. This summer-sipper will be great by itself on a hot afternoon or paired with a chicken sausage and white bean ragout (which is how we enjoyed this wine).

The Lang family has been farming for five generations. They are committed to sustainable farming practices and strive to improve the health of their surrounding natural environment.

2011 Michael David Cinsault2011 Michael David Ancient Vine Cinsault $24. This wine is youthful in the glass, it is transparent ruby-violet in color. Dark cherry fruit and spice on the nose is followed by earthy, dark cherry, blackberry and vanilla flavors. Tannins are well-integrated in this light-bodied red wine. This lighter wine is a departure from the bold, very dark wines usually produced by Michael David. It is aged 15 months in 2-3 year old French oak. ABV is only 13.5%.

Planted in 1885, this head-trained, dry-farmed vineyard is Lodi’s oldest producing vineyard. Talk about sustainable farming!

2011 St Amant Old Vine Zinfandel2011 St. Amant Mohr-Fry Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel $18. This wine is dark ruby in the glass. Scents of spicy dark fruit and cedar make for a complex nose. Flavors are rich and ripe with blackberries and plums. Tannins are smooth and well-integrated.

This wine is produced from a blend of vineyard blocks planted in 1941 and 1944. The Mohr-Fry vineyard was one of the first to be certified through Lodi RulesTM. Production is 2500 cases and it is the winery’s most popular wine.

Now that we are aware of what Lodi RulesTM is and what the “Certified Green” seal looks like, we can look for it when we consider a wine purchase. When we drink a “Certified Green” wine we are supporting farmers and vintners that take their responsibility to care for the environment seriously. That’s something we should all feel good about.

Happy Earth Day.