MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2023. BY STEPHANIE BOLTON, PhD, LODI WINEGRAPE COMMISSION.
Recently, the Lodi Winegrape Commission was featured in a public television short-form documentary video project to tell the unique story of our regional self-funded grower outreach and education. The version of the video with Dennis Quaid giving an introduction for Viewpoint has been distributed to public television stations in all 50 states, estimated to reach 60 million households over the next year. A one-minute commercial for the documentary aired during primetime in over 84 million homes, and will continue airing 400 times in many of the top 100 designated marketing areas during peak and primetime on popular networks.
“The Lodi Winegrape Commission is an organization that exemplifies what farmers can do when they truly work together voluntarily with their money, precious time, put their self-motivational instincts aside, and think out of the box with the ‘can do spirit’, for the benefit of all.”
The company who filmed us also created a longer short-form documentary to tell our story, which we just uploaded to our YouTube channel here:
Though only showing a small slice of our winegrowing community, the video does a great job of showcasing our spirit and comradery while explaining the forethinking that went into the growers establishing the Lodi Winegrape Commission and LODI RULES. We really do enjoy each other’s company while we work hard to do what we believe in!
For those who don’t know, Lodi, California is a town just south of Sacramento with a unique farming community. There are many crops growing in Lodi, including cherries, almonds, olives, and pears, but the largest planted crop by far is winegrapes. Everywhere you look there are stunning vineyards. The local police cars have bunches of grapes on their doors and some local high schools have student vineyards!
Lodi is one of the few American wine regions with ancient vines – vines over 100 years old which survived through the Prohibition era. These vines were saved from ruin by the wits of savvy farmers, who stayed in business during Prohibition by shipping grapes back east for home winemakers. Grapes from these treasured ancient vines go into many fantastic wines that are enjoyed across the globe.
The winegrowers in Lodi are true pioneers. In 1991, farmers came together to form an organization – still going strong today – called the Lodi Winegrape Commission. The Lodi Winegrape Commission was created by putting all egos aside to improve farming for everyone in the community. Our motto is JFK’s famous quote: “The rising tide lifts all the boats.”
Incredibly, Lodi farmers vote every five years on a self-imposed grape tax which funds the Commission, whose mission is to promote the region and provide education and research. In 1992, the Commission launched a grassroots farmer education program aiming to reduce the amount of pesticides used by learning about the entire vineyard ecosystem (called integrated pest management). They wanted to farm more responsibly to ensure that farming could carry on for future generations. This grassroots educational program later turned into the formal LODI RULES sustainable certification program in 2005, after over a decade of input from farmers, viticulturists, and leading environmentalists.
The farmers and friends of the Lodi Winegrape Commission never imagined in their wildest dreams that their grassroots farmer education program would spread throughout California, let alone into other countries. Today, there are over 1,300 vineyards certified under the LODI RULES program all over California, in Washington, and in Israel.
Learn more at lodiwine.com and plan your visit to experience the Lodi winegrowing community firsthand!
The featured image is of Lodi Grower and Commission Board member Curt Gillespie (left) with Producer Nick SantaCroce (right) at Curt’s family estate, Woodworth Ranch.
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