The Scene

LangeTwins wines a revelatory Lodi showcase

Marissa Lange is president of LangeTwins.

Marissa Lange is busting myths.

In doing so, the fifth-generation family member and president of LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards has helped spread the word that Lodi, California, is a region ripe for wine lovers to explore.

With reasonably priced wines, loads of heritage varietals and a collection of creative winemakers who have shaped their own conventions, Lodi has carved out a fascinating niche in the American wine industry.

“Lodi is the most obvious, best kept secret out there,” Lange said. “We’ve been a key pillar in the wine industry for decades, but have really remained behind the curtain. We are working to change that over the last several decades. We are beating the drum that: ‘Hey, the fruit, the stories, the farmers, the families originating in Lodi are worthy of their own spotlight.’ We’re not just supporting components to other appellations.”

Marissa Lange is president of LangeTwins.

There was a time when Lodi’s reputation was as a backbone for thin vintages in Napa or Sonoma Valley. Their neighbors to the north would swoop in, purchase fruit and bulk up their wines. California wine laws dictate only 75% of the wine in a bottle must come from the region listed on the label. That means a quarter of a wine could be from somewhere else in the state.

Consider the glut of mass-produced, over-extracted, bulk-value wines with cartoon labels versus winemakers like Lange, Sandlands Vineyards’ Tegan Passalacqua and Markus Wine Co.’s Markus Niggli, all determined to drive the appellation to new heights.

The wines are dynamic, interesting and uniquely California.

“Whimsical is not our core strength,” Lange said. “We look to be experts in our field. Our engagement through every organization is to drive the thought processes and future of the industry. We are supportive adopters of new technologies. We develop an awareness in the trade, and show our expertise across the industry.

“We are at our very best when we are ourselves,” she said. “What that means is we are really focused on telling our story, which is using sustainable wine-growing practices and talking about the vineyards themselves.”

The Lange story dates back to the 1870s, when the family grew non-irrigated watermelons. Wine entered the picture in 1916, when the first vineyard was planted, and the family ran a vineyard management company. In 2005, identical twin brothers Brad and Randall established their eponymous winery on property purchased from their father, land on which they’d played as children.

With black pepper, green rosemary, red fruits and black berry through the finish framed by supple tannins complemented by a pronounced acidity, the LangeTwins River Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Jahant AVA 2019 ($38) was a wine that had juicy fresh-fruit flavors that still maintained impressive structure. Lange said the acidity is “the backbone of what will allow wine to age over time.”

Marissa Lange is president of LangeTwins.

The LangeTwins Thirty Eight Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Jahant AVA 2019 ($38), thusly named after its dimensions, had plum sauce, herbs de Provence and star anise flavors.

“We are working hard to speak to our wines as a flag bearer of quality for our region,” Lange said. “We have the ability to over-deliver to consumer expectations. That’s the best way to broaden and expand.”

• James Nokes has been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Email him at


With California again besieged by massive winter storms, this week’s notes feature wines all from the Golden State.


Ampelos, Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2019 ($27): On the nose there was baking spice, loamy earth and cinnamon stick. The wine had dark cherry fruit, was medium-bodied and sleek with cinnamon stick and anise notes.


Frank Family Carneros Pinot Noir 2021 ($39): On the 40th anniversary of the Carneros appellation, winemaker Todd Graff reminisced on the evolution of the area.

“History wise, Carneros was pasture land,” Graff said. “There were lots of dairy barns, sheep and cows. There’s not a lot of water out there. The invention of the drip system, which wasn’t common 40 years ago, got us a little water without overhead sprinkling or sending it down a row, and could keep the grapes alive. It’s an area that’s kind of blown up. There’s not much left to plant. It went from open grazing lands to pretty much vines everywhere, with pinot and chardonnay the main varietals.”

The wine had a collection of round red fruits on the nose; raspberry and strawberry gave way to tobacco and spice notes. It was medium-bodied and well-balanced. Another great food wine that gained depth the longer it was open.


Sandlands Vineyards, San Benito County, Mataro 2019 ($38): A fascinating experience, similar to a zinfandel with greater acidity and more focus. There were flavors of pomegranate, cranberry and garrigue.


Skipstone, Alexander Valley, “Preface” Proprietary Red 2021 ($85): Plush red fruit, cocoa and olive tapenade flavors – all with well-integrated tannins on a wine with layers of flavors and an extensive finish. An upcoming feature will dive into deep details on the winery.