Jessie's Grove Vineyards

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Ancient Vines Still Growing Strong in Lodi

Though they're gnarled and twisted with age, a little hunched over and not at all interested in new-fangled ideas like, say, trellises and grafting, there's still plenty of life left in the wise, old vines of Jessie's Grove. They've made it 115 years, after all.

Given names like Yoda and Royal-tee, these relatively ancient vines are the oldest in Lodi--and among the oldest in the state. Planted in the late 1800's, not long after the madness of the Gold Rush and some of the earliest plantings by the viticultural Johnny Appleseed of the California's Central Valley--Captain Charles Weber--the vines continue to produce intensely flavored, highly prized Zinfandel and Carignane wines.

The name of the winery itself, however, doesn't refer to the vines, but to a patch of old-growth oak trees that were saved by the original owner's daughter, Jessie. The grove still stands, and is the setting for the winery's many summer events, including a number of local music festivals.

The tasting room is a history of the town, with photos and momentos from the family throughout the generations. Interestingly, the wines are priced in such a way that with tax, they come out to an exact dollar amount (ie: $12.07, $13.63 per bottle).

Jessie's Grove Wines to Try:

Ancient Vine Carignane: A fairly limited production wine that includes small amounts of Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon to round out the velvety-smooth qualities of the winery's 115-year-old Carignane vines.

Earth, Zin & Fire Old Vine Zinfandel: One of 2005's "Best Zins of Lodi" selections.

Westwind Old Vine Zinfandel: At 64-years-old, the vines that contribute to this Old Vine Zinfandel are relative infants, but still have many of the rich qualities of old vines.

If you go:

Jessie's Grove Winery: 1973 W. Turner Road, Lodi, CA 209.368. 0880.

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