Rodney Schatz’s upbringing in a family of Lodi growers instilled in him a deep love for the land, a strong work ethic, and an appreciation for the rural lifestyle. Food and wine played integral roles in their family celebrations, and Rodney honed his kitchen skills from a young age. His early experiences ignited a passion for farming and a visionary outlook.
However, Rodney’s dream of establishing his winery encountered numerous obstacles. Challenges ranged from navigating financial dealings with bankers who couldn’t grasp the full scope of the business to the unpredictable ups and downs that come with grape growing. Nevertheless, Rodney’s turning point came in 2001 when he and his wife, Gayla, decided to construct a custom crush facility on their Coyote Creek ranch. This allowed them to process their fruit and, if necessary, sell it as bulk wine. In 2005, they ventured into producing their wine with 5,000 cases of Petite Sirah, which garnered critical acclaim and provided the confidence needed to establish Peltier Winery.
Peltier Winery has since evolved into an innovative winery and custom crush facility, strategically situated in the heart of the Lodi Appellation. The winery proudly produces a diverse range of wines under flagship brands like Peltier, along with stand-alone brands Hybrid and Collier Creek. The Schatz family owns approximately 1,000 acres of land, primarily in Lodi, with some acreage in Clarksburg, evoking memories of the Loire Valley in France.
For winemaker Gianni Abata, the essence of wine lies in the first three weeks of a grape’s life when crucial decisions about harvesting must be made. Gianni emphasizes that while he can manipulate factors like acid and sugar, the vineyard’s role in imparting flavor is irreplaceable. He meticulously ensures that these flavors endure the fermentation process, employing cultured yeast for predictability and consistency. Ultimately, Gianni’s approach leans towards minimal intervention, not as a trend but as an art form.
Credit: Peltier Winery
One of Peltier’s notable offerings is Vermentino, a journey that began two decades ago when the suitability of Lodi’s climate for cultivating this grape became apparent. Early harvesting, typically at around 20 Brix, helps preserve the grape’s acidity, resulting in a crisp and refreshing wine without muscat-like overtones that can develop with ripening. In 2021, their Vermentino earned acclaim at the Vermentino International Wine Concourse of Sardinia.
Another standout in their portfolio is the “Triomphe” red blend, which holds a special place in their winemaking narrative. Inspired by their visits to Paris and the iconic Arc de Triomphe, this wine’s name pays homage to significant places in Italy, including Lodi. The blend, featuring Cabernet Sauvignon, Teroldego, and Petite Sirah, stands out for its remarkable consistency across vintages.
Lodi, as a tourist destination, has retained its quaint charm, with some visitors expecting personal interactions with winery owners and winemakers in tasting rooms. While this holds true for a few, Lodi’s wineries have evolved to offer elevated tasting experiences while maintaining their warm and welcoming atmosphere. Situated near Napa, Lodi provides an opportunity for tourists seeking a more budget-friendly alternative to Napa’s prices. The region has successfully shed its old reputation for producing heavy, high-alcohol, sugary wines through education and exceptional wine experiences. Many are unaware of Lodi’s remarkable diversity, with a significant portion of its fruit contributing to Napa and Sonoma wines, highlighting its pivotal role in shaping the broader wine industry.
As they enter this year’s harvest season, Peltier faces one of its most challenging vintages to date. With harvest starting four weeks later than the previous year, shorter days and colder nights have become the norm, extending the season into November, with the added concern of potential rain. However, amidst these challenges, the white wines, such as Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, show great promise. It serves as a reminder that winemaking is a delicate dance with nature, with each vintage presenting its unique set of trials and triumphs.
The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided for inclusion in the story. As always, the top priority is to provide the readers with informative reporting.
2018 ‘Triomphe’ Red Blend- luscious notes of plum, blackberry and chocolate taking center stage. It boasts a full-bodied presence, its tannins silkily embracing the senses, while a ripe acidity adds a delightful twist.
2016 Teroldego- the wine displays a deep purple color and a complex bouquet of black fruits, cedar and coffee. The mouthfeel is rich and smooth with layers of blackberry, plum, and vanilla followed by a long and satisfying finish.
2023 Vermentino- a sweet serenade of white flowers mingles with fragrant herbs. Upon the palate the true symphony unfolds: lemon and grapefruit notes strike a harmonious chord alongside whispers of peach and honey, as well as the essence of minerals from the earth.
Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : email@example.com .
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