Lodi-based Lorenza Wine is known for being singularly focused on making Rosé.
Until now, that is. Owned by the mother/daughter team of Melinda Kearney and Michele Oullet, the winery recently debuted its first ever white wine — a Picpoul Blanc, sourced from a grower in the Lodi, California area.
Kearney, who established Lorenza in 2008, said it was important to them to focus on Rosé because of a need to educate the public about the pink varietal, which was less popular as a domestic product a couple of years ago.
But they always knew they would branch out. The question was not if, but when, Kearney said.
“Now that Rosé is firmly in the mainstream, it has freed us up to expand,” Kearney said. ”We also wanted to go deeper with our Lorenza community and build out our universe a little further. Lorenza has a strong identity with Rosé. When the timing was right, we knew we’d find the right variety.”
Picpoul Blanc fit in nicely with Lorenza’s French-in-California theme, Kearney said, making it a logical next step. Lorenza’s winemaking goals and processes for the new varietal were generally the same — preserving the freshness and vitality of the fruit in a beautifully balanced wine.
“Picpoul Blanc is native to the south of France, not far from the motherland of great Rosé in Provence,” Kearney said. “We talked about a white wine that would naturally find its way to our table. Picpoul Blanc with its high acidity and food friendliness ticked all the boxes. Plus it pairs perfectly with a platter of oysters.”
One adjustment from making Rosé was the time of harvest, Kearney learned, as Picpoul is a variety that maintains its high acid despite a mid-September harvest.
“We are used to picking our red fruit for Rosé a month earlier, so this extended our season,” she said. “Creating a new wine has given us such a boost. We love making Rosé and feel quite comfortable doing it at this point. It was a joy to learn about a new variety and discover the intricacies of this beautiful, rare grape.”
Kearney said she and Oullet had been fans of Picpoul after enjoying it in Europe but hadn’t seen much of it in the US. She said finding the fruit was the biggest challenge, but she eventually found what she was looking for at Terra Alta Vineyard in Lodi.
“There are only 33 acres of Picpoul planted in California, so when we found an organically farmed vineyard in the eastern hills of Lodi, the stars were aligned,” she said.
Maintaining relationships with growers has been a big component of Lorenza’s success story, Kearney explained.
“After 14 years we have made some excellent relationships,” Kearney said. “Each year we strategize with our growers about tweaks to the farming. We have successfully supported and encouraged our growers to adopt Lodi Rules of Sustainability. We enjoy learning from each other and spending time together. It is definitely teamwork.”
They made just 300 cases of it to start, but Kearney said she expected to expand production based on early feedback they have received and has secured more fruit from the coming harvest.
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