My 1/2 Day Vacation: Lodi with Twisted Roots Winery
Gaining a reputation as The Lodi Guys with the big red wines, co-owners and winemakers of Lodi’s Twisted Roots Winery Ross Schmiedt, Mike Hodge and Josh Luiz are most certainly worthy of their reputation – their Old Vine Zin, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah are absolutely big and bold, yet each harbors a distinctive lush, mouthwatering and palatable elegance.
Family run and operated (all three owners are related), the Twisted Roots 45 acre estate vineyard is located in California’s Lodi AVA, about twelve miles east of the center of Lodi right on the Mokelumne River. Although their family has deep roots in growing quality wine grapes, their first vintage wasn’t produced until 2005: a single barrel of Petite Sirah. Made mainly to be enjoyed by friends and family, the Petite Sirah (made by co-owner Ross) was literally created in the basement of the farmhouse on the estate property, and it was a huge hit. At the same time as friends and family were raving about their first vintage, Ross was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, so co-owners Mike Hodge and Josh Luiz took over operations and continued what Ross had started. Hence, the reasoning behind Twisted Roots donating $1 dollar per bottle to ALS.
“After jumping head first into the wine business, while maintaining my day job of vegetable farming, I had the idea that we needed to take our wines out of Lodi, and show other AVAs what Lodi can do.” Josh continued, “I believe that there are great wines being produced all over the country, and that most people don’t give them a chance if they don’t come from the “commercial” AVAs like Napa. So, I decided that I wanted to sell, and have our tasting room, in Monterey County.”
With most of their wholesale business now being conducted between Monterey, Carmel, and Santa Cruz (on the central coast of California), in January 2013, Twisted Roots opened a tasting room in Carmel Valley, where locals have been giving them praise – and with the samples I received of the four wines they currently offer, I can certainly see why they’ve been receiving accolades.
Twisted Roots Chardonnay 2011 ~ The winemakers took a new approach when producing this vintage Chardonnay: they aged 2/3 of the juice in neutral French oak barrels and 1/3 in stainless steel, putting only the stainless steel portion through malolactic fermentation. This process resulted in the kind of Chardonnay I love – crisp, refreshing, great depth of character; along with, alluring apple and pear fruits rounded out by nice acidity and a silky, lasting finish.
Twisted Roots Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ~ Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of Cabernet Sauvignon. But every once in a while, I’ll come across a Cab that is totally, absolutely palate pleasing – this was one of those Cabs. Aged in 100 percent neutral French oak barrels, with an aim to showcase the fruit, success is shown in the glass. Fruit forward aromas of dark berries and fall spices follow through onto the palate in waves with fine-grained tannins that don’t overwhelm the fruit. This is an easy-drinking Cabernet with a bright fruit, smooth, lasting finish that (in spite of its ease on the palate), still offers layers of depth and character, while holding on to an elegant element.
Twisted Roots Petite Sirah 2010 ~ Unlike Cab, I am a huge fan of Petite Sirah – a wine that is known to have a solid acidic backbone, a characteristic I love to find in a wine (especially when consuming wine with food). Petite Sirah is, indeed, one of the ultimate food wines. My husband and I popped the cork on the Twisted Roots Petite Sirah on a warm evening while cooking up some BBQ ribs on the grill – the pairing was outstanding. This big, bold beauty has aromas and flavors of blackberries and spices with hints of pepper. Solid tannins and a solid structure create a nice balance between the dark fruits and acidity, and it’s incredibly lush and juicy. This wine has all the components to complete a summertime BBQ feast.
I’m not the only one who feels Petite Sirah is the perfect wine for all those grill masters out there; wine marketer and public relations extraordinaire, Jo Diaz of Diaz Communications, feels the same way (from appelationamerica.com):
Do you need some vinous inspiration…
How about a wine with glorious sensation?
As you’re grillin’ your steak this Fourth of July,
And suggesting to friends what wine they should buy,
Please think of a wine with American roots,
And give your party a drink for which you can toot.
Sirah with an “i” is all that I ask,
While swimmers are swimmin’, and sunbathers bask.
Some dads will be firin’ up their new grills,
All shiny and bright, with lots of the frills.
A heritage day and a heritage wine,
A big slab o’beef with some fruit of the vine.
For the sake of our past, please hold this thought tight…
A scrumptious Petite with your steak… morning, noon or night!
Varietal Character by Jo Diaz
Twisted Roots 1918 Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 ~ Bold aromas of rich dark berries, plum and a bit of pepper flow onto the palate smoother than expected, showcasing the fine tannins. Layers of dark berry flavors coat the mouth with added hints of vanilla and white pepper on the finish. As the winemaker notes, “we feel it is a nice blend of jammy, but not overly jammy.” I couldn’t agree more.
*These wines were provided to me for review purposes.