Harney Lane Winery: Wines So Good They're Rarely Sold Beyond the Tasting Room Six generations of family farmers have turned this land into a winery producing premiere wines. BY TOURING & TASTING
Photo courtesy of Harney Lane Winery
A twisted vine that produces some much sought-after wine.
“ ...Farming is legalized gambling with more variables.”
For more than 100 years, the George Mettler family has farmed Harney Lane, a 100-acre parcel just east of Lodi, California.
But it wasn’t until 2006 that George, his wife Kathleen, daughter Jorja, and son-in-law
Kyle Lerner, decided to venture into winemaking. Jorja left her career as a physical therapist to help with the winery; Kyle—who jokes that farming is legalized gambling with more variables—took on added responsibilities to manage the winery; and Kathleen applied her strong hospitality skills to organizing the tasting room. Even George’s two grandchildren, Kirsten and Ian, who represent Harney Lane’s sixth generation, played a part. The family now has complete control of their wines from vineyard, to the bottle, to the consumer. All the Lodi vineyard grapes are handpicked, hand sorted, then fermented in small lots and barrel aged.
This attention to detail and determination to make the best product possible has certainly paid off. In five short years, Harney Lane Winery has developed a portfolio of unique, memorable estate varietals including Old Vine Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Primitivo, Petite Sirah, and Albariño—along with classic Chardonnay. Judging from the rapid growth of Harney Lane's wine club, Wine: 30, and the fact that nearly all (95 percent or more) of Harney Lane's inventory is sold in the tasting room, Harney Lane has quickly developed an enthusiastic and loyal following. Harney Lane wines consistently stand out at major wine competitions. At the esteemed 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition alone, Harney Lane’s 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel and 2009 Tempranillo both garnered Gold medals.
During his 48th harvest in the fall of 2011, George wrote these words of wisdom on Harney Lane’s blog site: "For a successful season, we depend on good management decisions, good employees, good weather, and blessings from above." For more than a century, that’s how his family has farmed, and now, that’s how Harney Lane Winery handcrafts its wines.
WHAT TO BUY '11 Albariño - $19
Citrus, pineapple, fragrant jasmine, with a touch of honey
'10 Tempranillo - $25
Cassis, plum, licorice
'10 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lizzy James - $35
Black cherry, vanilla, spice