This week Michael Smith, sales manager of Peirano Estate of Lodi, California stopped in to offer tastes of his product. I followed up by going to the company website and elsewhere to learn more about Peirano and Lodi. As many of you know I am critical of most winery websites for their lack of useful information. Peirano's passes my test, however, by offering an abundance of historical information and me, being a history buff, I gobbled it all up. In a nutshell the following is what I found interesting.
Giacomo Peirano immigrated to Lodi in 1879 from Italy bringing with him Italian Primitivo vines for propagation in the new world. Like Renwood Winery in Amador County (January 25th blog), Peirano was motivated by the California gold rush with the grape vines as an afterthought. Giacomo was, in fact, twenty years late for the gold so he opened a mercantile shop that turned out to be timely in its own way in an area that needed just that kind of business. He returned to Italy, brought more vines (and his bride), bought 300 acres, and planted 75 of them in Primitivo (Zinfandel).
Peirano Estate, to this day, is still family owned, currently by Lance Randolph, and still farms that original 300 acres, now entirely planted in grapes. Lodi, which used to be known as the home of Delicato jug wines fifty years ago, now bills itself as the "Zinfandel Capital of the World". 40% of California's premium Zinfandel comes from there but the more interesting fact to me is that 25% of all California varietals come from Lodi, making it the French Languedoc (Blog 7/26/11) of California, to my thinking.
Here are a few more interesting facts:
Prohibition turned out to be profitable for the Peiranos when they marketed their Zinfandel grapes to Italian-American families on the east coast (including Canada) for home winemaking. The government at the time did not recognize Zinfandel as a wine grape!
Lodi has a sandy loam soil that is a protector of the grape vines from the phylloxera louse since the little bugger doesn't like sand (Blog 6/11/11).
While Peirano's old vine Zins may not go back to Giacomo they are well over 100 years old.
Robert Mondavi was born and grew up in Lodi. So did A&W Root Beer!
This Friday at the regular weekly event (5-7pm) here at the store, we will taste the Peirano Chardonnay. We ask for a ten dollar charge to taste and that charge may be applied to a thirty dollar minimum purchase. Say you read this article and pick up some triple cream French Brie or Jarlsberg Swiss for $10/lb.