Austrian/German Varietals Grown in Lodi, CA – Mokelumne Glen Vineyards


I am endlessly interested in indigenous grape varieties and also why vineyards in certain areas decide to plant grape vines that are not indigenous to their area. California is rife with these stories whether it be Tempranillo or Nebbiolo, it seems that someone somewhere is planting it in California. Years ago at the Society of Wine Educators conference I came upon a vineyard in Lodi called Mokelumne Glen that decided to try their hand at Austrian/German varietals.

I remember tasting the wines because of the varietals and last week as I was writing about Franconia (Blaufrankisch) in Italy, they came to mind. I promptly found the small brochure I have kept for years from the winery.

The family run winery grows Lemberger, Dornfelder and Kerner, among other varieties.

Co-owner Bob Koth, a Lodi native with German heritage, grew up around a vineyard. He began commercial winemaking in 1998 after years of amateur home winemaking. His daughter who now teaches German, studied in Germany and after he visited her there he decided to grow German grape varieties.

The vineyard is located on sandy soil along the Mokelumne River. According to their website, their “viticultural practices include cane pruning (seldom used in the Lodi area) and expanded vertical trellis. They also use a dual irrigation system utilizing the most favorable benefits of both drip and sprinkler…. to establish a “natural balance” in their fields including biological controls, a minimum of pesticide use and ground covers.”

Apparently they also make a proprietary blend late harvest wine called Dreirebe but I don’t have any recollection of tasting it. I do remember the Lemberger and enjoying it much to my surprise. That particular grape has caught my fancy from a variety of locales including New York State.

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