In today’s world, we are all trying to sell something. Whether it is a product like grapes or wine, a service, or ourselves, we are all salespeople in our interactions with others.

Storytelling can help us sell our products, services, and ourselves by evoking emotion in others. By telling stories which cause people to laugh, smile, or feel some type of way, we can leave a lasting impression which will benefit us when it comes time to sell. Stories not only move people, but they also move product.

This spring, the Grower Marketing Committee (Joan Kautz – chair, Kendra Altnow, Ben Kolber, Richard Lauchland, Curt Gillespie, Craig Ledbetter, Kyle Lerner, Joan Kautz, Mitch Spaletta, Garret Schaefer, Colton Machado, and Jacylyn Stokes) of the Lodi Winegrape Commission set out to create a lasting impression of Lodi and its winegrowers through a targeted marketing campaign.

Named “The People & The Place,” the ten-week campaign highlighted Lodi’s winegrowers and producers as well as its distinct soils, microclimates, and diversity of winegrape varieties through stories.

(Or, how Lodi came to grow the largest collection of German varietals outside Deutschland.)

Bob Koth Illustration

Illustrated portrait of the late (great) Bob Koth, Mokelumne Glen Vineyards.

One sip of Riesling in Mainz was all it took to hook Bob Koth into thinking he could grow German varietals back home in Lodi. Of course, everyone thought he was nuts. But here it is going on forty years now and what Bob, his wife Mary Lou, and their two adult children have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable: 15 acres of nothing but German and Austrian varieties, many of which experts said could never, would never, flourish anywhere but their Motherlands. Yet here they grow, 51 different varieties, and come harvest you’ll find trucks loading up on Kerner and Dornfelder and Gelber Muskateller; trucks from wineries in Napa and Sonoma and Healdsburg—not to mention quite a few from right here in Lodi—all clamoring for what Bob calls his “laughing stock.” Funny how a little conviction and a lot of hard work pays off. Then again, Bob’s really no different from any other winegrape grower around here. Okay, maybe he can pronounce a few names others can’t, but the hard work and conviction part—that’s pretty much standard operating procedure around here. And has been for over five generations.

To support the campaign, the About page on our consumer-facing website,, received a major update. Now, it directs visitors to one of two NEW pages – People or Place. We’re particularly excited about the new People page which will serve as an ever-growing library of our winegrowers and producers. Each professional portrait of our winegrowers and producers is accompanied by a brief question-and-answer style interview, allowing readers the chance to connect with them on an emotional and personal level.

Visit our new People page of familiar faces and click on any name and title to learn more about a particular member of our winegrowing community. We guarantee you will discover something about that individual you did not know before! And if you are a  Lodi/Crush District 11 winegrower or vintner and you don’t see your own face, be sure to contact the Lodi Winegrape Commission office at (209) 367-4727 or email to sign up for an upcoming photography session.


The den Hartog Family, Lodi

The den Hartog Family, den Hartog International Farms. From left: Kevin, Pieter (Sr.), and Pieter (Jr.).

Joan Kautz, Lodi, and dog Olive

Joan Kautz, Kautz Farms and Ironstone Vineyards, with Olive.

What would the stories of our winegrowers be without stories of the land? The new Place page on now features a wealth of information on Lodi’s distinct viticultural areas, varied soils and microclimates, diverse winegrape varieties, gnarly old vines, and proud history.

In addition, the Place page includes an overview of LODI RULES – communicating our commitment to scientifically sound, sustainable winegrowing and its role in the preservation of our farms for future generations.


Lodi AVA

New Lodi AVA map, hand lettered by artist Danilo Agutoli. Available for use in digital or print format for all Lodi winegrowers from the Lodi Winegrape Commission – contact us at (209) 367-4727 or to get a copy.

Throughout the marketing campaign, portraits and stories of our winegrowers and producers, in addition to custom illustrations and stories, were highlighted on the Lodi Wine Instagram page as well as in e-newsletters to our consumer audience of 24,000. The campaign was supported by a Lodi Wine story gallery on Wine Enthusiast, as digital and social advertisements (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), and as e-newsletters directed at Enthusiast’s trade audience.

Yes – between the people and place, there is something amazing happening here in Lodi. We’re looking forward to continuing to tell the stories of our winegrowers and region to the world!


Owl Box Tom

Illustrated impression of Tom Hoffman, Heritage Oak Winery, as a barn owl.

Listen, do you hear that? Neither does that rodent about to fall prey to that fast approaching barn owl. It was this stealthy observation that inspired Tom Hoffman to build himself some owl boxes and put them up all around his family’s fourth generation vineyard. You see, rodents eat the roots and owls eat the rodents and—well, Tom figured letting nature take its course was a far healthier pest control solution than letting some chemical do it; an idea that quickly had Tom filling owl box orders from vineyards far and wide. It’s this kind of out of the box thinking—the desire to farm in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible—that eventually led to the creation of Lodi Rules. With continuous input from farmers, scientists and environmentalists, Lodi Rules has become the most comprehensive (and most copied) sustainable winegrowing program in America. Why, everyone from winegrape growers to winemakers to wine drinkers is singing its praises. As for the owls, they’re staying silent. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing indeed.


Bill Stokes & Jacylyn Stokes, Lodi

Jacylyn Stokes (left) and father, Bill Stokes, Stokes Brothers Farms.


Ben Kolber, Lodi

Ben Kolber, KG Vineyard Management.


Here are a few easy ways to support and get involved with the Commission’s ongoing grower marketing efforts:

1. Contact the Lodi Winegrape Commission office at (209) 367-4727 or to sign up for one of our upcoming photography sessions.

2. Support Lodi Wine on Instagram by liking, commenting, and sharing our posts. Popular hashtags include #lodiwine and #lodirules.

3. Email to sign up for our consumer e-newsletter so that you never miss the winegrower and regional stories we are sharing with the world.

4. If you own or operate a commercial vineyard in Lodi/Crush District 11, contact Dr. Stephanie Bolton at to learn how you can create a Vineyard Tech Sheet.

5. Attend a storytelling workshop hosted by the Lodi Winegrape Commission, which are advertised on the Calendar as they are scheduled.


Richard Lauchland, Lodi

Richard Lauchland, Richard Lauchland Vineyards.


Jason Eells & daughters Aslyn & Ayla, Lodi

Jason Eells, Arbor Vineyards and Mettler Family Vineyards, and daughters Aslyn (left) and Ayla.


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For more information on the wines of Lodi, visit the Lodi Winegrape Commission’s consumer website,

For more information on the LODI RULES Sustainable Winegrowing Program, visit or