Nestled between the Sierra Nevada foothills and San Francisco Bay is the historic winemaking town of Lodi, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) with seven distinct growing regions in the heart of California’s Central Valley. Lodi’s oldest operating winery, Oak Ridge, dates back to 1934 when it functioned as a winemaking cooperative called East Side Winery. In 2002, the Maggio and Reynolds families purchased and renovated the winery and vineyards, renaming it as Oak Ridge.
“We’re farmers first,” says Raquel Casity, general manager at Oak Ridge Winery. “Wine-growing has been a part of our history since our great-grandfather planted our first vineyard here in Lodi in 1928 – and winemaking didn’t come until much later. My memories all revolve around growing up in the vineyards; we were always outdoors, making mud pies in the irrigation ditches, and going to work with my dad to help him fix tractors and check the fields.”
Today, founder Rudy Maggio’s three daughters – Lisa, Shelly and Raquel – own and operate Oak Ridge’s 2,500 acres of estate vineyards, more than 90 percent of which are located in the Lodi AVA. Oak Ridge produces wines for its own suite of brands including OZV, Maggio Family Vineyards, Old Soul, Moss Roxx, and 3 Girls — aptly named for the sisters who run the winery.
“With the 3 Girls label, we made a concerted effort to create something fun and reflective of our personalities, which was a nice shift from our more traditional portfolio,” says Casity. Each wine in the line represents one of each of the sisters: Cabernet Sauvignon (the influencer), Chardonnay (the mediator), and Sauvignon Blanc (the instigator).
The Cabernet Sauvignon represents Raquel herself, who is the youngest of the three siblings. In line with her role as “the influencer,” the wine is full-bodied, with notes of rich, dark fruit, underscoring Raquel’s bold personality.
Three Girls’ Chardonnay is named for the first-born sister, Lisa. Known as “the mediator,” a peacekeeper and realist, Lisa’s personality is reflected in the Chardonnay’s notes of pineapple and guava tempered by a smooth and buttery vanilla finish.
Lastly, a wild spirit and motivator, the 3 Girls Sauvignon Blanc is named after the family’s middle sister, Shelly, also known as “the instigator.” Its bright acidity and flavors of pear and orange peel represent Shelly’s fun and feisty demeanor.
It’s these distinct personas that give each wine its own identity – and for the members of the Maggio family, they also bring excitement to the winery’s day-to-day operations. “There’s never a dull day when running a business with your sisters,” says Casity. “We obviously have a shared history and experiences, with very different personalities. This can make our discussions lively, but we never forget that we all have the best interests of the winery at heart and we all want it to succeed.”
The sisters are also working together to inspire other female winemakers in the region. “The wine industry has always been very male-dominated, and certainly when we first began this operation, it wasn’t commonplace to see female winemakers,” Raquel says. “We were never afraid to get our hands dirty since we started out on the wine-growing side of things, which made it much easier to get into winemaking. Luckily, the landscape is changing and evolving – we see more women in the wine industry now than ever before.”
While 3 Girls focuses on its Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, Oak Ridge is also known for its Zinfandel — OZV’s Zinfandel is the No. 1 selling Zinfandel in California, according to iRi data. Lodi’s Mediterranean climate, with warm days and cool evening breezes, is perfectly suited to allow Zinfandel grapes to thrive for years and years — and some of the vineyard’s vines are more than 50 years old.
In addition to being firmly rooted in history, Oak Ridge is committed to environmental responsibility and sustainability. The winery’s grapes are certified through the LODI RULES program, which ensures the use of sustainable farming practices governing everything from water use to pest management. The rigorous program also emphasizes socially responsible practices, such as community engagement.
This commitment to sustainability, combined with the family’s rich history and the sisters’ distinctive personalities, results in impeccable quality in both the Oak Ridge and 3 Girls wines. Whether enjoyed at home or given as gifts, the wines help support Lodi’s local female winemaking scene, the region’s storied winemaking history, and a family business passed down through generations.
And if you’re able to make the trip to Lodi, a two-hour drive from San Francisco, a visit to the winery’s tasting room is a must. It sits inside an expansive 50,000-gallon redwood tank that was once part of the now-defunct Roma Wine Co. Drink in the unique building’s history as you sample each wine, as if you were sharing them with each of the sisters themselves. Because in a way — especially with 3 Girls — you are.
This article is sponsored by 3 Girls.
Published: November 22, 2020