Charlene Lange
February 28, 2017

The event was billed as a “Stuck in Lodi” auction item, offered to Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theatre Company in my hometown of Chelsea, Michigan.  If you raise your palm, point to the bottom of your thumb and scooch over just a bit, you’re pretty darn close to Midwest territory, home of the Spartans, and I’ll give you U/M’s Wolverines as well. 

Our auction item is just one of the little things I do to maintain my hometown connection, while supporting local, original theatre.  Hats off to Daniels, also a hometown boy, who reached back to the community to establish a local theatre while honing his own trade as an actor.  Now in its 25th year, The Purple Rose Theatre enjoys audiences of thousands of patrons annually from across the nation.  That effort alone should garner a Tony.

The auction high bidder secured the three day trek to Lodi featuring our crazy Wine and Chocolate weekend.  We mixed the Michiganders in with 5,000 of our newest BFF’s from throughout California.  February is a great time to leave Michigan ditching snow scrapers and to blast into our warm valley temperatures, and see the daffodils begin to bloom.

Ann Arbor’s Dave Ligotti, his wife Karen, and Saline’s Derek Dobbs with his wife Noelle were very game to jump into the themed Wine and Chocolate ‘Roaring 20’s weekend.  They appeared on our doorstep for the opening event, our Wine Club Release Party (that would be solely to pick up wine…) dressed to kill! 

Randy toured them through the winery, intricately explaining the focus of our winery as creating opportunities for taking the fruit from our estate grown vineyards and distributing through wholesale market place, via our brands or our clients brands.  Our family manages and grows over 8,000 acres of winegrapes, and with 27 different varietals we have a unique opportunity to create many exceptional wines.

The recent addition of our bottling line adds another component to the discussion as we complete the circle of ‘vine to wine’ – the high speed bottling line capacity is 220 bottles each minute.  







The highlight of the weekend is always Big Red Night at the ranch. I cook and Randy grills thick filets – this dinner is not for the faint of heart. It was originally billed as a chance to raid Randy’s cellar and choose whatever red wines, regardless of age, to pair with the filets.  However!  Randy veered off script declaring he knew where the really, really good stuff resided, especially those wines of same vintage/year with multiple bottles.  And since we also included our Canadian friends, Vancouver Police Department #2 Warren and Lisa Lemke, son Joe’s partner on a 10 day bicycle ride from Vancouver to Lodi, circa 2014 we needed those multiple bottles!  I likely neglected to mention the Vancouver crew brought wines as well, so we added the Canadian and Washington labels to the list – we justified the evening as an educational wine experience!








Wine and Chocolate dawned on Saturday morning and I had warned the Michigan crew to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  The best thing they did was book a car and driver – that certainly took the pressure off enjoying wines from 58 different wineries in the Lodi appellation.  We initiated them early at LangeTwins, paired our wines with our signature chocolate, brie and basil panini’s and then sent them off to explore the region. 

So we turned them loose on the greater Lodi area for a day of wine tasting, exploring and enjoying the fruits of our labor, literally. Last word from Dave Ligotti?  Lodi will never be the same! 

Feb 28, 2017 at 10:28 AM
Aaron Lange
February 1, 2017

60 MILLION!  Did you know that there are about 60 million vines in the Lodi Appellation that each receive individual attention from a skilled farm worker during the winter pruning season?  Why do winegrape growers spend so much time, effort, and money pruning their grapevines?  

In short, winter pruning is one of the most important cultural operations that occur in the vineyard as it sets the stage for the coming growing season.  The decisions growers make while pruning affect the form of the vine, the vine balance (canopy vegetative growth and potential yield), and of course the quality of the fruit.  

Old Vine Zinfandel, before and after pruning

Very simply, grape clusters (bunches), leaves, and tendrils are all attached to the shoot (think: new branches), and those shoots grow from buds each spring, which looks like the picture below.  Those green shoots eventually lignify (turn rigid and woody) just before harvest each year, only to be trimmed down by growers during the winter.  See here for a great explanation of grapevine structure and morphology on the Lodi Winegrowers webpage:

A newly pruned spur with one bud

What’s really important to understand is that those green shoots and clusters which will pop up in the spring are already microscopically formed in each bud during the growing season BEFORE winter pruning.  That means the number of clusters that will appear for the 2017 harvest are already formed in the vine right now!  In fact, some people actually dissect buds in order to count and try to predict how large or small the upcoming crop will be.

In Lodi, the most common style of pruning is “spur pruning”. In both images here, the Chardonnay (left) is spur pruned on a bi-lateral cordon (two arms on a wire to accommodate machine harvest), and the old vine zin (right) in a “head trained” form.  

Pruned Chardonnay and Old Vine Zinfandel

Spur pruning means we cut woody shoots (canes) down to a length of three inches, which typically includes two or three buds on each “spur”.  In general, we predict a primary shoot will emerge from each bud, which will typically have two clusters, depending on variety. In this way, we calculate and plan how many buds we want to leave per vine, which gives us an indicator of potential yield. In a perfect world, leaving twenty, two-bud spurs on a Chardonnay vine should leave us forty shoots, each with two clusters, or eighty clusters for harvest.  Of course, mother-nature has an enormous influence on the cluster number and size during the growing season, so it’s not quite as simple as described above.

3" spur with 2 buds

In addition to pruning the vine to meet yield goals, we also must leave spurs properly positioned and spaced from one-another.  Crowding spurs together will cause shoots and clusters to grow too close together.  This crowding of vegetative growth and fruit is not ideal, because it restricts sunlight and amble air movement, which are both absolutely necessary to produce high quality winegrapes. 

Newly pruned row of Old Vine Zinfandel

Finally, pruning is absolutely a skill and an art form.  As most things in viticulture and winemaking, it is an amazing marriage between science and art in order to influence that vine to produce a desired result.  I have pruned many vines in my day, but not nearly as many as some of the incredibly skilled pruning masters that work with us at LangeTwins.  When you pick up that glass of 2017 vintage LangeTwins wine, know that Step one to that tasty beverage was a dedicated team of skilled vineyard managers and crews working all winter long!

Vineyard Manager, Kyle Brown, pruning Old Vine Zinfandel 

Feb 1, 2017 at 12:00 AM