Posted August 2006
Vino Con Brio offers a Unique Tasting Opportunity: The Little Known
a common consumers perspective, Lodi, California might only be known
as a region that turns out great zinfandels. It is certainly a reputation
that many vintners and growers have been enthusiastically helping to
cultivate over the last couple of decades.
The large Lodi appellation, however, and now it seven sub-appellations,
is home to a surprisingly diverse community of the world’s varietal
wines. You will find producers who fully submerge themselves
in Spanish and German varietals for instance, as well as the
more well-known French and Italian grapes.
The boutique Lodi winery, Vino Con Brio, looked to South Africa
for the origin of one of its wines – Pinotage. Developed in 1925
by crossing two French grapes -- pinot noir and cinsault, this
grape was largely unknown outside South Africa for the first
40 years of its cultivation.
Vino Con Brio became the first international member of the Pinotage
Association based in Stellenbosch, South Africa. They believe
they are the largest grower of this grape in the United States
with eight acres planted – current estimates are that there are
less than 50 acres planted to this grape in the entire United
“There are only nine or 10 tasting rooms in the whole nation
where you might find it,” said Anne Matson, Director of Sales
and Marketing for Vino Con Brio. It generates a lot of excitement
with our customers, most of who have never seen or heard of the
variety before. “It’s the number two seller in our tasting room,”
The Matson’s, owners of Vino Con Brio, planted Pinotage in the
late 90’s and are now on their fifth vintage. Matson said that
many people enjoy this middle-of-the-road, fruit driven wine
– especially as they continue to explore the popular pinot noir
family of wine, whose reputation is still seeing a commercial
boost from the 2004 film “Sideways.”
If you would like to experience this variety first hand, check
Con Brio’s in Lodi.
Read Thom Elkjer’s tasting notes on several of the Vino
Con Brio wines.
If you are interested in visiting other Lodi
wineries, use the
listings on WineCountry.com