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Lodi Winegrape Commission Celebrates 25 Years

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Lodi winegrowers mark a quarter century of unprecedented success in regional marketing, education, and research programs

Lodi, CA, December 20, 2016 – The year 2016 commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Lodi Winegrape Commission – the grower-established force behind the highly-successful marketing, education, and research programs supporting California’s Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA).

Founded in 1991, the Lodi Winegrape Commission was initiated by a group of visionary Lodi winegrowers who aimed to enhance awareness and recognition of the Lodi winegrowing region through expanded use of the Lodi appellation on wine labels, by facilitating development of wineries in the district, and by supporting wine-oriented tourism. To sustain 0the Commission and its objectives, Lodi winegrowers voted to tax their own production on an annual basis – a concept they continue to overwhelmingly support.

“Twenty-five years ago, the region’s future didn’t look very good,” explains John Ledbetter, owner and operator of Lodi-based farm management company Vino Farms and one of the Commission’s earliest advocates. Says Ledbetter, “This area was in a transition from Tokays and Carignanes to California’s modern, admired varietal wines. We came to the conclusion that anything we did had to promote the area and change the perception of it.”

The past 25 years have seen the Lodi Winegrape Commission exceed its original goals, successfully propelling the region forward as a high quality, environmentally sound winegrowing appellation. Since 1991, the region’s acreage under vine has more than doubled, progressing from 45,000 acres to nearly 110,000 acres planted today with more than 100 not just popular but also diverse winegrape varieties, including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Albariño, Grenache and more. Wineries have followed suit, expanding in number from six to 85, creating a swell of wine-related tourism that continues to generate billions of dollars in economic activity on an annual basis.

Along with increases in acreage and value has come recognition for the region. To date, one of the most notable and gratifying accomplishments of the Commission has been the procurement of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s prestigious Wine Star for “Wine Region of the Year,” awarded to the Lodi wine region in 2015.

Other significant achievements of the Commission over the last quarter of a century include the establishment in 2000 of the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center – one of the industry’s original regional wine education and tasting centers – and the creation of the Lodi Rules™ for Sustainable Winegrowing Program in 2005. Lodi Rules™ is California’s first 3rd-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program and has received significant recognition over the years, having been awarded the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) in 2006 and again in 2014. That award continues to be California’s highest environmental honor. More than 36,000 acres in and outside of the Lodi Appellation are certified under the program today. The formation of both the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center and Lodi Rules™ program have served and continue to serve as models to associations and winegrowers in outside regions and are a testament to the innovation and leadership of Lodi’s winegrowers.

Further proof of Lodi winegrowers’ ingenuity lies in the 2011 launch of “LoCA,” the highly visible and successful consumer-facing branding and national marketing campaign. The unconventional outreach favorably positioned the region as one filled with authentic, approachable winegrowers who are fanatical about producing high-quality grapes and wines.

Expressing her respect for past accomplishments, Executive Director Wendy Brannen says, “The tremendous successes experienced by the Commission on behalf of the region over the past 25 years could not have happened without the dedication and vision of our winegrowers. Lodi’s winegrowers are what sets our region apart and truly makes it special. Here, there is an unparalleled sense of cooperation among our winegrowers and the overarching, non-competitive belief that a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Looking to the future, Brannen goes on, “We plan to continue bolstering the perception of Lodi as a distinguished place for growing winegrapes and producing award-winning wines. Through the leadership and entrepreneurial spirit of our winegrowers, I know the Commission will continue to accomplish great things on behalf of the region, and I’m excited to see what the next 25 years will bring.”

Brannen replaces former directors Camron King (2012-2016) and Mark Chandler (1991-2011), who now serves as mayor of the City of Lodi.

About the Lodi Winegrape Commission and Lodi AVA

The Lodi Winegrape Commission represents nearly 750 winegrowers who collectively farm more than 110,000 acres of winegrapes. Its mission continues to be one that serves the common interests of all California Crush District 11 winegrape producers, enhancing the profitability and visibility of winegrape production through marketing and promotion of Lodi winegrapes, viticultural research, sustainable viticulture, and grower and public education.

Located 40 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco, the Lodi wine region benefits from a classic Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool evenings.

A major winegrowing region since the 1850’s, Lodi cultivates more than 100 diverse winegrape varieties. From Iberian varieties like Tempranillo and Albariño to classic Rhône varieties such as Grenache and Cinsault, Lodi offers wines for even the most discerning palate. The region also serves as home to 85 boutique wineries specializing in small-lot, handmade wines that have garnered major awards at domestic and international wine competitions. The recent increase in critical and consumer attention paid to Lodi-designate wines has fueled an astronomical growth in demand for Lodi wines, as well as tourism to the wine region.  For more information about the Lodi wine region, visit www.lodiwine.com and www.lodigrowers.com.

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