October signals the pleasant season that is fall. Change is everywhere: leaves roll along neighborhood streets; tastes in food go from grilled everything to soups and baked cookies; and a sweater is morning’s standard issue.
Changes in wine tastes also indicate a chill in the air. One reaches for a different rack in the wine cellar or another varietal section at the market when fall is under way. Whites make way for warming reds, and certainly a cabernet is at the top of the list of wines that help bring on winter.
For us, there is no finer way to welcome the fall than our 2013 Lodi Cabernet. Its generous plushy texture and rich black fruit flavors complement the chill and a roast in the oven.
It doesn’t come by these characteristics by accident. In fact, two AVAs in the larger Lodi AVA are as perfectly suited to growing cabernet as fuzzy slippers are to retrieving the morning paper.
First, it is important to note that the Lodi appellation is very committed to the king of grape varieties. The region crushed more tons of cabernet sauvignon in 2015 than Sonoma and Napa Counties together. Climatically speaking, Lodi is not that different from many parts of the North Coast of California. It has less “diurnal swing,” or variation between the high temperature and the low temperature on a given day. The constant cooling of the San Joaquin Delta is a major factor in the entire Lodi appellation, but the Sierra Foothills create consistent cooling in areas best known for growing cabernet.
Cabernet is found mostly on the eastern slopes of the Lodi AVA, in the Clements Hills and Borden Ranch AVAs. Their cobble and alluvial soils, as well as the cooling influence of both the delta and the Sierra foothills, are quite suitable for cabernet and other red varieties, such as syrah and tempranillo.
The Mokelumne River flows through the Clements Hills region within San Joaquin County. The region’s hilly terrain indicates the rise of the Sierra Foothills. At 85,500 acres and 22,000 acres under vine, Clements Hills is the second-largest appellation in Lodi.
The Borden Ranch region straddles both Sacramento County and San Joaquin County and spans altitudes a bit higher than the Clements Hills region. Two creeks—Dry Creek and Laguna Creek—form its borders. Twelve thousand acres of vines are planted in the Borden Ranch region, and it is smaller in total acreage than Clements Hills.
Specific conditions in these two special Lodi AVAs, combined with farming that ensures full sun and air flow, produce a signature “Lodi style” of cabernet. We love it for its smooth and accessible nature and dark plum and black cherry fruit. Its drinkability, combined with Toad Hollow’s accessible pricing, makes it a great choice to welcome the first chilly days of fall.