Oak Farm Vineyards is my stop on this virtual vacation. I took part in a July conversation with Oak Farm's co-owner and Director of Winemaking, Dan Panella. The get-together was held on Zoom, where everything else also seems to be held in these pandemic times.
Panella talked about his family's three-generation farming claim at Oak Farm, which in Lodi is practically newcomer status. He spoke of his fondness for the Italian and Spanish grape varieties found on his estate and reminisced about his younger days driving a tractor through the cherry and walnut orchards. He turned the business into the wine arena in 2004.
Oak Farm itself was founded in 1860, with the Panella coming along in the 1930s. Today, Panella and head winemaker Sierra Zieter manage a diverse portfolio of wines.
The Oak Farms Red Blend called Tievoli (I Love It spelled backwards) is made from two-thirds Zinfandel grapes, 8% Primitivo, 18% Barbera and 8% Petite Sirah - all grown in Lodi. The old vine Zin was grown in the Hohenrieder vineyard, while the rest came from Oak Farm's estate vineyards.
Panella says, "Zinfandel is the backbone of this blend. It brings the fruitiness to this wine, while the Primitivo adds earthiness, bringing the spices and earth floor notes. The Barbera adds the acidity backbone and helps brighten the wine and smooth it out. Petite Sirah strengthens the color and helps with the structure."
The wine was aged eight months in French and American oak before being bottled. Alcohol strikes 14.5% and the retail sticker is only $22.
This red blend shows a ripe cherry nose abetted by black pepper and a touch of leather. The palate has an earthy quality, almost savory, but the Zinfandel fruit stands firm. So do the tannins, and the wine's acidity is bright and fresh.
Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter