I’m willing to bet that you closely associate Zinfandel with the Lodi wine region. Many wine drinkers do. But, you might not associate Chardonnay with Lodi. We’ve only tasted a few Lodi Chardonnays, but recently we had the opportunity to taste the new release Chardonnay from Harney Lane Winery & Vineyards along with their Old Vine Zinfandel sourced from the Lizzy James Vineyard. We received both as tasting samples.
Kyle and Jorja Lerner are fifth-generation farmers in Lodi and the proprietors of Harney Lane Winery and Vineyards along with Jorja’s mother, Kathy Mettler. The family’s farming history began in 1906 when Henry Schnaidt planted acreage along Harney Lane on Lodi’s east side. Eventually those responsibilities passed to George Mettler, Henry’s grandson and Jorja’s father, before passing to the Lerners.
When you drive into the tasting room on Harney Lane the enormous trees out front speak of previous generations. Harney Lane Winery & Vineyards is very much a family operation and has become the modern extension of the farming initiated by Henry Schnaidt. Just as with prior generations, the Lerners farm with the future and future generations in mind.
Sustainable farming practices are an essential part of their vision for the future and their vineyards are certified sustainable according to Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing. Look for the Certified Green Lodi Rules seal on the back label of their wines. All Harney Lane wines are crafted from estate fruit only.
2017 Harney Lane Chardonnay, Lodi — pale golden in the glass with generous aromas of ripe green apples and pineapple. Flavors of ripe pears lead, along with citrus zest and toasted almonds. Juicy acidity keeps the flavors bright. The wine is a bit round, with lingering hints of vanilla and spice. 14.5% abv. SRP $28
Fruit flavors are on full display in the aromas and flavor profile along with the influence of partial malolactic fermentation and time spent on the lees. 9 months of aging in French oak adds complexity to the flavors, but does not overwhelm the fruit flavors.
This is a very sippable Chardonnay and made the perfect accompaniment for Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese and Castelvetrano olives. A very enjoyable Chardonnay.
2015 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel, Lizzy James Vineyard, Lodi — dense ruby in the glass with generous aromas of blackberry jam, dried herbs, dusty earth and sweet vanilla. Flavors lead with mocha, then ripe raspberries and blackberries and finally pie spices. Tannins are drying and well integrated with the flavors. The finish is warming. 15.75% abv. SRP $36
This is not a shy Zinfandel. The fruit flavors are concentrated and ripe with significant oak influence and pleasant tannins for support. It is a wine made for grilling or a hearty, braised meal on a cool evening.
Because of the chilly weather, we opted for the hearty, braised meal instead of grilling. Pork chops braised in tomatoes, garlic and onions paired nicely with glazed carrots and cauliflower rice as did the 2015 Lizzy James Old Vine Zinfandel.
The Lizzie James Vineyard was planted in 1904 on Lodi’s east side (that’s Lodi-speak for east of Hwy 99). Last year I had the opportunity to meet Kyle and tour the vineyard. The Tokay sandy loam soil reaches a depth of 90 feet in the vineyard according to Kyle and I discovered for myself just how fine the sandy soil in the vineyard really is. It slipped through my fingers like beach sand, only it’s much finer. I also learned how the vineyard got its name.
The winemaking facility on Harney Lane is modern and the tasting room just beside it is very comfortable and inviting. In August the Harney Lane Grape to Glass tour won Best Winery Tour according to USA Today readers. And, as a friend reminded me recently, the tasting room has a nice collection of gifts too. This is the perfect time of year to shop for delicious Harney Lane wine and grab a few holiday gifts while you’re at it. Eat, drink and shop local!