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Weibel Family Winery: Blush, Pink and Bubbles

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I sit at a stop sign and wait for the string of gondolas to make its way past the intersection. Further down the road I see flashing lights and traffic has slowed for a harvester coming my direction. My car pulls to the right shoulder and my speed reduces as the giant machine thunders down the road. Navigating country roads during harvest is a task most of us don’t give much thought. On this day, as my hustle was forced to slow down, thoughts of harvest flooded my mind like the juice from the fruit of the vine that will spill during crush. Harvest translates to busy, sleepless nights that bring an excitement for the future; an end to summer, the beginning of fall and anticipation of another holiday season. One winery in Lodi lives this rush every day: Weibel Family Winery.

“No two days are the same here at Weibel; we are bottling 365 days a year!” exclaimed Weibel’s special projects manager, Diana Weibel. She continued to explain the multiple fermentations starting and ending daily. “We bottle a minimum of 3,000 cases per day,” Diana said smiling. After sitting with her for a few minutes, it was clear she was passionate about her family business. Diana shared that her work began at the winery when she was five years old. “All of the children started working at a young age at the winery doing odd jobs and clean up, until eventually graduating to the labeling and packaging lines,” she reflected. 

Her Roots
After college Diana worked in the sales and marketing division. Now, as the special projects manager, she coordinates events such as wine club events that include 500-plus attendees. The winery boasts a beautiful event center where Diana brings in food, live music and, of course, Weibel’s lineup of still and sparkling wines. “We’re looking forward to the time when we can host another event,” Diana said warmly. When I asked her about the challenges of working in a family business, particularly alongside her brother, she responded, “My office is next door to my brother’s; seeing him is the highlight of my day!” 

Recently, the tasting room in Downtown Lodi has released five new wines. I had the pleasure of tasting the Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé, the Chardonnay and the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. Diana and I chatted about the distinct flavor profiles and characteristics of the wine. “The chardonnay comes from Fred’s Mendocino vineyard. It has a nice acid balance, velvety feel and is easy drinking,” she described. The cabernet was dark and rich with a faint touch of sweetness at the finish. The black currant and minty flavors described by Diana became apparent as I sipped intently. 

Pink October Wines
The highlight of the visit was the pinks and blush-colored wines. In honor of Pink October and the holiday season sneaking up on us, we wanted to highlight some crowd favorites. Starting with the Archgate California Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé, the delicate pink color poured beautifully into the flute while the tiny bubbles rushed to the top. It’s a favorite in the tasting room and with the judges at the 2020 Sunset International Wine Competition, winning Double Gold and Best of Class. This versatile sparkling wine is great for celebrating, not sweet, but dry with a balanced finish. Maybe it was the hot day at the beginning of a heat wave in September, but the Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé was the most enjoyable and pleased my palate. The sparkling wine was cold, refreshing, dry and crisp. I tasted a hint of strawberry without an overwhelming sweet finish. I took a bottle home with me to enjoy later with dinner!

We also tasted the still version of the Pinot Noir Rosé. Made in the French style and on the drier side, this blush-colored wine is perfect for warm afternoons. We ventured back into the sparkling wines with the Pomegranate Demi Sec, Raspberry and Strawberry bottles. The colors were beautiful and the Pomegranate Demi Sec was slightly dry with hints of sweetness. 

Wide Appeal
Diana and I continued to discuss the strategy of pleasing an array of palates from sweet to dry and everything in between. “The challenge is appealing to so many different people. We have a discerning audience that wants the fruit-forward flavors,” she continued. Diana described different flavor profiles and then matched wines from the tasting list. My experience in the tasting room with Diana was a lovely way to spend a Friday morning. I left with a better understanding of this unique winery and tasting room here in Lodi and a new appreciation for the work and detail that go into making a sparkling wine. As we celebrate Pink October, I hope you will head down to the tasting room and pick up a bottle or two to share with friends and family!

For more information on Weibel Family Winery, visit weibel.com or stop in the tasting room at 9 N. School St. in Downtown Lodi.