Is Oktoberfest a celebration only for beer lovers? The winemakers who craft wines from German grapes cultivated in Lodi’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyard say no! Oktoberfest began in 1810, in Munich, Germany to honor the marriage of the Bavarian Crown Prince. Since that time Oktoberfest has become the world’s largest beer festival, reaching close to 2 million gallons of beer consumed in Munich alone. What is a wine lover to do? In addition to world class beer, Germany is home to some of the world’s highest quality wines. However, other than Riesling, German varietals lack wide distribution across the US. There is an easy solution to this problem. Look no further than Lodi, California for some high quality wines crafted of German grapes; the perfect solution for wine lovers to celebrate Oktoberfest.
Lodi is often associated with zinfandel; a fair association since Lodi produces some of the world’s finest zinfandel. However, Lodi is also home to Mokelumne Glen Vineyards, the largest source of German and Austrian varietals in the US with 48 unique grapes. Mokelumne Glen Vineyard was bought and planted by Bob and Mary Lou Koth in 1962. They were both teachers with little spare time for experimentation so they focused on traditional varietals. In the nineties their daughter was studying as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. Bob and Mary Lou traveled to visit her many times. While in Germany, Bob discovered the beauty of German Riesling. This discovery lead to Bob’s determination to grow Northern European grapes in his east-side Lodi vineyard. How could this possibly work? The vineyard’s proximity to the Mokelumne River’s cool waters helps to moderate the Mediterranean type climate in the Koth’s shaded vineyard, allowing for temperature drops of 40-50 degrees from the daytime to the night. Additionally, the classic Mokelumne River AVA Tokay soil containing sandy loam, which is deep and fertile yet porous and composed of a slightly alkaline pile of finely crushed granite that has accumulated over millions of years of run-off from the Sierra Nevadas, helps the grapes maintain their natural acidity regardless of the climate. Today winemakers from as far away as Napa Valley craft unique wines produced with Mokelumne Vineyard grapes. So what better way to celebrate Oktoberfest then with some German wines from Lodi!
2015 Sidebar, Kerner, Mokelumne River: Sidebar is a new project of David Ramey focused on fun and diverse grape varieties; this wine is crafted 100% from the German varietal Kerner, a cross from Riesling and Trollinger; a dry white wine that offers fresh aromatics of fresh cut white flowers, lemon zest, and soft spices; it is crisp and clean on the palate with a foundational minerality that offers racy minerality and a long, dry finish; SRP $25
2015 Holman Cellars Uncharted Bacchus, California: Crafted 100% from the German varietal Bacchus; soft gold in the glass; aromas of apricots, white peaches, soft notes of lemon zest and nutmeg, with savory herbal notes of lavender; racy acidity leads the way in this tart and tangy wine that pleasingly coats the mouth, leaving a long tart finish; SRP $25.00
2014 Markus Nimmo Lodi: Crafted from the German grapes 71% Kerner, 13% Gewürztraminer, 11% Riesling, 5% Bacchus; soft straw in the glass; inviting aromas of white stone fruit, citrus zest, soft tropical fruit and a hint of lychee; round on the palate with a touch of rich texture, crisp and clean, easy to drink and enjoy, balanced acidity for a delicious mouth-coating finish; SRP $22.00
2015 Markus Nativo, Lodi: Crafted from the German grapes 52% Kerner, 29% Riesling, 15% Bacchus, 4% Gewürztraminer; a delicately sweet nose consisting of ripe stone fruit, lychee, and fresh picked white flowers with a lasting lime zest; light and playful on the palate with balanced acidity and structure that dances down the throat; SRP $18.99
2014 Markus Nuvola, Lodi: Crafted 100% from the German grape Gewürztraminer; this bone dry example of Gewurtz offers the traditional aromas of lychee, accompanied by tart aromas of green apples, lime zest and a kiss of savory herbal notes; dazzling on the palate with bright acidity and a long, mouth coating finish; SRP $18.99
2015 Hatton Daniels Zweigelt: And how about 1 Austrian wine for fun; Crafted 100% from the Austrian varietal Zweigelt; beautiful purple ruby in the glass; interesting aromas, ripe blue and red berries are met with black tea, and a flinty, dusty earth minerality; light on the palate with a soft mouthfeel, balanced acidity and soft tannins, very unusual yet perfectly pleasing wine, serve slightly chilled; SRP $24.00
Oktoberfest kicks off on September 17 and lasts until October 3. Don’t let the Oktoberfest beer lovers have all the fun. Grab a glass of German wine crafted from the Mokelumne Glen Vineyard grapes and celebrate Oktoberfest wine lover style!