Sidebar Old Vine Zinfandel – Lodi

Sidebar 2018 Old Vine Zinfandel Molekume AVA
From the Mokelumne AVA in Lodi – Sidebar Old Vine Zinfandel

2018 Sidebar Old Vine Zinfandel Mokelumne River

The 2018 Sidebar Old Vine Zinfandel grapes are from the Mokelumne AVA, a compelling wine appellation in the Lodi Wine Region. The Sidebar winemaker is David Ramey. His name should be enough reason to give this old vine Zin a try. Ramey’s Sidebar is a second label, concentrating on unique wines from lesser-known, high-quality vineyards in Northern California. The Ramey Napa Chardonnay label is one of the best ($75).

If you have been to Lodi in the summer months, you know about the high temps; however, the Mokelumne River AVA is very different. White wine grapes thrive here as well as Zinfandel. The Mokelumne River is the area’s air conditioner. It provides a Mediterranean climate. The biggest feature is perhaps the soil. The soil is Tokay, a sandy loam soil providing ideal drainage for the vines. For more information on the Mokelumne River AVA read this informative article by the Lodi Wine Commission.

Sidebar wines from David Ramey
Sidebar wines from David Ramey

About the 2018 Sidebar Old Vine Zinfandel Mokelumne River

The old vines for this Zinfandel in the Mokelumne River AVA include a vineyard planted in 1900, and then replanted in 1965. The vines are all head pruned and gnarly looking. The wine was aged on lees in neutral oak barrels for 13 months. It is 100% Zinfandel. About 1000 cases were made.

Tasting notes

  • Lighter in color than most Zinfandel wines
  • The aroma is light, but intriguing
  • Black pepper is clearly evident on the palate and aftertaste
  • There is a tad of smokey note; but a good smokey, not as in smoke taint
  • Medium bodied and a very different Zinfandel from the norm. A great representation of the Mokelume AVA
  • It is mellow and quite fun to drink

KL Wines has the Sidebar Old Vine Zin for $19.99, but limited quantities – act fast. I will buy more if I can and, if not, I will be ready for the next vintage. The price at the Sidebar online store is $28.

This Sidebar Zin is a versatile wine to match with food. It will not overpower with extracted fruit or boldness. Chicken, pork, Salmon, beef, pasta and pizza would all be a nice match with the Sidebar.

About the Lodi Wine Region

Lodi has a reputation for high octane wines. Wines that are high in alcohol, that are fruit bombs, or have raisiny characteristics. Nothing can be further from reality. The best way to learn about Lodi wines is to take a wine country getaway to the area. There are many excellent wineries in Lodi making delicious wine. I’m a big fan of Acquiesce, Bokisch, and Harney Lane wineries. Follow this interesting Wine Route.


  1. Kevin Knox says

    Nice review but $20-28 isn’t my idea of good “cheap” vino. It’s pretty easy to get a couple of bottles of very good zin (not to mention killer Gigondas, excellent Malbec or Cabernet) for that amount at Costco.

    • Joe Becerra says

      Kevin, thanks for commenting. From the get-go, ten years now, we have always included wines $20 and under. Now, with prices on the upswing it will be harder to find Good Cheap Vino. I agree with you that Costco has the best prices on wine. The thing is not everyone shops at Costco. For families, Costco is great. For singles, not that great. I also like the fact that at Costco they do not have six-pack prices. Good to hear from you. Joe

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