Lodi’s Acquiesce Winery Focused on Rhône-style Grapes
Producing only Rhône-style white and rosé wines, Acquiesce Winery is a maverick in Lodi, California. The appellation is known for its concentration of Zinfandel red wines. The San Francisco Chronicle included the Acquiesce Winery tasting room among its list of 52 vineyards to visit in 2020.
When We Retire
The vineyard was a retirement dream, something to do after Susan and Rodney Tipton left their corporate careers. At the time, acquiesce was only a verb: to surrender, to become quiet. The word became a vision of a time when they were no longer moving between different states (five of them), living in Sweden, and raising three boys. The idea became a reality in 2003 with the purchase of an 18-acre property in Lodi, California.
“One day, we are going to have a beautiful country property and we’ll call it Acquiesce” ~ Rodney Tipton.
With no hands-on experience in growing grapes or winemaking, the Tiptons bought a vineyard property in the middle of California’s red wine country. Their short-term plan was to sell grapes while the project unfolded. The 18-acres included 12-acres of Zinfandel grapes, a home, and a 100-year-old barn. The barn, previously a walnut processing facility, was in total disrepair. There were holes in the roof, a large pit in the floor, and a barn owl in residence. It took five years to restore the barn to a useful state and add a small winemaking facility.
Embarking on the path of professional winemaking, they began replacing Zinfandel vines with Grenache and Grenache Blanc grapes in 2008. Viognier, Roussanne, and Picpoul Blanc varietals plantings followed the next year. In January 2012, the re-envisioned barn opened to the public as the Acquiesce Winery tasting room. The remaining Zinfandel vines were removed in 2015, making way for additional Rhône Valley varietals, including Clairette Blanche and Bourboulenc.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape in California
In the Lodi Appellation, Acquiesce Winery is unique as a producer of exclusively white and rosé wines. Susan Tipton says, “I fell in love with a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine shortly after moving to California. I thought it was the best wine I ever tasted.” White wines make up barely 5% of the wine production in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Despite a climate similar to Provence, these grape varieties are limited in California.
Ignoring advice that Acquiesce Winery would not survive without producing red wines, the Tiptons planted white varietals typical of the Southern Rhône Valley. With its sandy, loam soil, Lodi is a grower’s paradise for grapes, walnuts, cherries and apples. Like the Southern Rhône, Lodi farmers benefit from warm days in the summer and cool evenings, thanks to the nightly Delta Breeze.
While researching grape varietals, Susan discovered Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles, co-owned by the Perrin Family, the owners of Château de Beaucastel. The cuttings for Tablas Creek Winery were brought to the US about 30 years ago, propagated and sold through grapevine nurseries to increase the awareness of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines in the States.
Lady Acquiesce Wines
“Acquiesce has become our mantra — to submit to nature, to yield to the vineyard, to acquiesce to the grapes so they present their own true character.”
They nicknamed the vineyard Lady Acquiesce focusing on small-batch, premium production. These award-winning wines include single grape bottles: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc, Grenache Rosé and a sparkling (Méthode Champenoise) Grenache Blanc. Acquiesce has two blends, Belle Blanc (45% Roussanne, 45% Grenache Blanc and 10% Viognier) and Ingénue (35% Clairette Blanche, 35% Grenache Blanc, 20% Bourboulenc and 10% Picpoul Blanc).
In France, 18-acres is a decent sized property, but Acquiesce Winery is small by Lodi standards. The Tiptons work with vineyard managers with several generations of grape-growing history. Jonathan Wetmore of Round Valley Ranches has been farming grapes for most of his 60+ years and is one of the founding contributors to the Lodi Rules – the sustainable farming certification they follow at Acquiesce Winery. Round Valley Ranches brings a generational knowledge of vineyards and employs the vineyard workers for 2,000 acres of Lodi wine grapes. The vineyard requires a lot of hands-on work: pruning, vine tying, shoot thinning, leaf removal, and hand-harvesting the grapes.
There are no immediate plans to plant more grapevines at Acquiesce Winery. However, with the addition of 57 French varietal olive trees, look for unique olive oils in the tasting room.
With over 110,000 acres of wine grapes, the Lodi Appellation is larger than the Napa and Sonoma valleys combined. Grape growing in Lodi began in the late 1800s with some of the world’s oldest Cinsault plantings. Before Zinfandel, Tokay, Chenin Blanc and Colombard grapes were grown in Lodi. In the early 1990s, there were only eight wineries in the region, with over 85 producers today.
The Lodi Rules™ for Sustainable Winegrowing awards vineyard certification based on grower adoption of farming practices that benefit the environment, the community, and the local economy. The Lodi Rules was launched in 2005 as California’s first 3rd party-certified sustainable winegrowing certification program and is among the most rigorous and comprehensive programs in the country. To date, it is the only certification whose practices are accredited by Protected Harvest. The program plays a key role in establishing transparency and trust between farmers, wineries, and consumers and ensures that our sustainability claims are accurate and substantiated. ~ Lodi Wine California
Connect and Visit
Acquiesce Winery (website)
22353 N Tretheway Rd
Acampo, CA 95220-9716
Plan to visit for a wine tasting or vineyard tour.
Join the Acquiesce wine club for specials and new releases.
Lodi Wine Visitor Center (website)
2545 W. Turner Road,
Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Thursday – Sunday 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Image credits: all photos provided by and published with the permission of Acquiesce Winery.