Lodi Wine Region Fights to Save Ancient Grape Vines

Old grape vines are literally living, breathing pieces of agricultural history, with the grace of a magnificent sculpture. In the Lodi Wine Region of California, home to the highest concentration of old vines in America, with many of them over 100 years of age, there is a fight going on to preserve these ancient beauties.

Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1886, Ancient Vines
Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1886.

A Heart-Breaking Choice

Unfortunately, due to the increasing costs of vineyard management, low yields, urban developments, and a diminishing financial return, hundreds of acres of old winegrape vines around the world are ripped out each year. For growers of beloved heritage vineyards, it is a heartbreaking choice to have to make. For once old vines are gone, so too are the remarkable wines they produce. Though these old vines often produce less quantity than younger vines, many experts believe that the wines they produce are of higher quality with more complexity and natural balance.

Soucie Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1916. Photo Credit: Randy Caparoso. Ancient Vines
Soucie Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1916. Photo Credit: Randy Caparoso

Save the Old Vines Preservation Campaign

Because of their love and commitment to old vines, Lodi winegrowers are calling for action with their recently launched Save the Old Vines preservation campaign. The campaign aims to raise general awareness and education surrounding historical, old vine plantings in Lodi and foster recognition of the quality of wine produced from old vines and the need for premiumization of old vine wines. You can help by making a donation HERE, and/or by purchasing wines from Lodi. You can also order a special selection of three wines produced from Lodi ancient vines HERE.

Rauser Vineyard Carignan (planted 1909) - Steve Felten, Joseph Smith
Rauser Vineyard in Lodi Planted 1909, with Steve Felten & Joseph Smith

About the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA)

A historic winegrowing region since the 1850s, the Lodi AVA is perfectly situated 40 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco, and is home to 85 boutique wineries specializing in small-lot, handmade wines that have garnered major awards at domestic and international wine competitions. Lodi’s Mediterranean climate and distinct soils allow its growers to cultivate 125 winegrape varieties, making Lodi the most diverse winegrowing region in the United States. Some of the signature grapes of the region include old vine Zinfandel, Cinsault, Carignan, and mixed Field Blends of different grapes.

What makes the Lodi Wine Region unique is its amazing number of ancient vineyards. Thanks to the ongoing care of Lodi’s farming families and unique sandy loam soil profile resistant to diseases like phylloxera, these vineyards have experienced longevity unseen in many other wine-growing regions throughout the world.

Stampede Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1929. Ancient Vines
Stampede Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1929

Lodi is also a leader in sustainable viticulture. Created by California farmers and accredited by world-renowned scientists, LODI RULES is America’s original sustainable winegrowing program. Held to a high standard of scientific rigor and excellence, the program emphasizes environmentally and socially responsible practices, while keeping economic feasibility in mind for long-term business success.

TruLux Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1940's with Mike McCay
TruLux Vineyard in Lodi Planted in 1940’s with Mike McCay

7 thoughts on “Lodi Wine Region Fights to Save Ancient Grape Vines

  1. Thank you for this – I’ve been looking for an interesting wine town nearby. Just found Lodi wineries with Tinto Cao, Tannat, Piquepoul and more. Will visit this soon.


  2. Hi Liz. Great introduction to the old vines of Lodi. This is an outstanding extension to your “Call of the Vine” book. I plan to visit all the vineyards in that book.


  3. It would be wonderful to visit this region. Such a pity that old vines are being ripped out. As you say, they wines they produce are irreplaceable. Very interesting post and glad to have discovered your blog.


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