The letters HW stand for Herman Walter Ehlers, the patriarch of a family who began crafting wines in Lodi almost 100 years ago. Lodi was little known back then. It was lumped into the same wine speak as Fresno and Modesto in California's Central Valley. They were unceremoniously known for their hot climate and large yields for making wines suitable for selling in jugs.
But Lodi is anything but. Sure, on the map, it's between Fresno and Sacramento, right in the middle of the Central Valley. However, it is also at the end of a gap. That begins in the serene San Pablo Bay in San Francisco and heads East, straight through and unobstructed, ending smack dab in Lodi. What that means to the grapes is 10? to 15? cooler days and nights, which in grape terms is huge.
Herman figured this out, and now the winery, headed by his son, Steven, has pushed the envelope further by planting the most temperamental grape on the planet, Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir has a thin skin for a red grape, making it susceptible to certain diseases and pests. If the weather gets too hot, the grapes can literally burst on the vine. But, that doesn't stop people from making it.
It's the elusive fruit, the spice, and minerals, the flecks of flavors that dance on the tongue that has raptured wine drinkers and winemakers alike for centuries. It matches fish or fowl, in tomato or cream, or just about anything else you can enjoy with it.