An Online Masterclass Proves the Next Best Thing to Being There – by Kimberly Norris
Before taking the Lodi Winegrape Commission Masterclass with Elaine Chukan Brown, I knew very little about Lodi wines, the history or the region. In the current time of not being able to travel, I feel very lucky to have been able to participate in this experience.
I had applied through SommFoundation to attend a four-day field trip to Lodi during the 2020 harvest; it was canceled due to the pandemic, but to my surprise and delight, I was selected to participate in an online virtual alternative. In preparation for the sessions, I received two boxes in the mail. The first box contained samples of soil from each of the region’s distinct AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas) . The color and textural differences between the samples clearly illustrated the uniqueness of each region. The second box, containing twelve bottles of Lodi wine, was a real treat, and it was all I could do to not prematurely dive into a personal tasting.
After a long wait, the first of two, two- hour classes began. When Elaine and the other panel guests spoke about their vineyards, you could feel their passion for, and commitment to, the Lodi growing program, resulting in wonderful grapes and glorious wines. The strength of this truly remarkable and progressive community was evident even through the online session. I felt like I was in Lodi for a couple of hours each morning, tasting the wines and listening to the exhilarating stories about the Lodi process. The classes moved along smoothly, reaching into the depth of the areas and the many wines they produce. The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing is truly exceptional as California’s original sustainable viticulture program, supporting the entire community with its practices.
When it came to the wines, I was only familiar with a couple of the bottles. Tasting these wines (virtually) along with the winemakers was extremely educating and eye-opening. I was surprised to learn about the number of wineries and the diversity of wines produced in Lodi and I’ve decided this will be the first region I visit when the world opens up again.
I cannot express how lucky I feel to have taken this enrichment class. The experience, even from a distance, has instilled me with feelings of wanting to visit and learn much more. The opportunities and educational experiences that SommFoundation provides to industry members are priceless, and the tools they offer will help enhance your wine career, passion, and learning, keeping the wine world exciting and fresh.