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ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I recently ran across a bottle of Zinfandel at Trader Joe’s. The label read Lodi Zinfandel and Sonoma County Zinfandel. It was produced and bottled in Sonoma County. I am thoroughly confused by this label. I asked a couple of employees about what this meant. Can a Lodi Zin be produced and bottled in Sonoma and be labeled as Sonoma County Zinfandel?

—Henry, Eugene. Ore.

Dear Henry,

The appellation—the place where the grapes come from—doesn’t change in meaning depending on where a wine was made and bottled. It’s not completely clear to me from what you’ve written, but it sounds like the grapes came from Lodi and the wine was made at a winery in Sonoma, or the grapes came from both Lodi and Sonoma and it was made at a winery in Sonoma.

I’m guessing because the winery is from Sonoma that they put the word “Sonoma” in a few places on the label as a way to market themselves with that Sonoma identity—after all, “Sonoma” has a lot more cachet (and typically carries a higher price tag) than “Lodi.” Sounds like you noticed the grapes came from Lodi, which can be the source of some very tasty Zinfandels.

—Dr. Vinny


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