Lodi Friday: The Best Region for… (Man) Crush?

I am not one who normally professes my admiration for other people (I think it is an ego thing), but in the midst of writing my Lodi Friday articles, I realized that there were a significant number of men that I met during my few days in Lodi that I would like to hang out with given the chance.

I am not sure if that qualifies as a proto-typical “man crush” (if there is such a thing?), but at this point I’ve already gone there so it is time to embrace it.

Now, I have been around a bunch of men in the wine industry that had a certain amount of charisma (as a researcher, a study trying to determine if there is a correlation between high amounts of charisma and people in the wine industry would be fascinating–but that will have to wait until I have an inordinate amount of time on my hands and there is someone willing to pay me a boatload of cash to conduct such research), but it was not until I spent a few days in Lodi that I realized that the region has perhaps a statistically significant number of such individuals.

I think I can speak for most wine geeks out there when I say that being a male winemaker automatically qualifies you for man-crush status, because let’s face it, practically all wine geeks would love to be in the winemaker’s place in one way or another. But in Lodi, my man-crushes did not stop at the winemakers. There were, in fact, two additional categories.

So after extensive internal debate on whether to publish this or not, here is my list of my Lodi Region Man-Crushes:


Markus Bokisch (Bokisch Vineyards) in Las Cerezas Vineyard.

Markus Bokisch (Bokisch Vineyards) in his Las Cerezas Vineyard.

  • Markus Bokisch of Bokisch VineyardsWhen Markus walks into a room, it is likely that he will instantly be the best looking guy there. I have no problem with that because that would likely never be said of me (and I am fine with that, really). He would also likely be the nicest guy in the room, which would absolutely never be said of me (and I am fine with that, too). In addition to his movie star good looks and über-nice persona, Markus is one hell of a winemaker, and broke out some barrel samples for our paella lunch in his back yard–be still my wine-ing heart.



  • Would you buy a house from this man?

    Wouldn’t you buy a house from this man?

    Ryan Sherman of Fields Family Wines.  We did not get to spend much time with Ryan as in addition to his job as winemaker at Fields Family Vineyards, he is also a full-time realtor. He also has me beat in the good-looks department (which I have established is no big deal) and is also one hell of a winemaker (he makes perhaps my favorite wines from Lodi). So why does he fall below Markus Bokisch on this list? Simple. He has never had me over to his house for paella (or any meal, for that matter).



  • Markus Negli

    Markus Niggli

    Markus Niggli of Borra Vineyards and Markus Wine Co. Markus had one thing working for him that all the others did not: an accent. Being a linguist of sorts (my doctoral work was initially in Sociolinguistics before changing to Educational Policy–a blog for another time, perhaps), I am immediately drawn to accents (although Markus has a Schweizerdeutsch [Swiss German] accent–had it been of French origin, well…). I only had a few of Markus’ wines (which will figure prominently in my article next week), so who knows? Once I have had a few more, he might just pass Ryan.


  • Stuart Spencer of St. Amant WineryStuart represents so much of the history of the region as the St. Amant label that his father started was at the forefront of the single vineyard movement in Lodi. He also broke out an older vintage Zinfandel (which was wonderful) for us to try. Talk about the gateway to my wine heart….
  • Layne Montgomery

    Layne Montgomery

    Layne Montgomery of M2 Wines.  I have no problem not being the tallest guy in the room (although I usually am), but unlike with being the best looking guy in the room, I find it hard not to be the funniest guy in the room (which is often why I find myself alone). That is why Layne does not figure higher on this list–there is no competing with Layne on the shock and awe spectrums, there is only total capitulation to his humor and wit. Regardless, I could hang out with him for days, particularly if his wines were flowing readily.




Bruce Fry of Mohr-Fry.

Bruce Fry of Mohr-Fry.

I created a different list of only farmers because they fit the main criteria for my definition of man-crush: I would love to hang out with them and do farmer stuff (I come from a family of dairy farmers). But, and this is fairly significant, I doubt they would want to hang out with me (and likely would have a bit of an obstacle getting over the whole ‘man-crush’ thing). Why? I am guessing, but I think that the two listed here have a fairly low tolerance for bullshit and since we all know that is almost my entire game, well, do the math. I also decided not to note the reasons for my man-crush since I figure that merely being on this list is reason enough for these guys to seek me out and break a few of my bones.


Robert Pirie (right), a vineyard manager and pivotal figure among Lodi wine growers, with Cameron King, Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, at Clay Station Vineyard in the Borden Ranch Sub-Appellation.

Robert Pirie (right), a vineyard manager and pivotal figure among Lodi wine growers, with Camron King, Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, at Clay Station Vineyard in the Borden Ranch Sub-Appellation.

  • Camron King of the Lodi Winegrape CommissionCamron would be the first to tell you that he deserves to be in a category all by himself, and that is why he is here. He is the Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, and truth be told, he is a great guy and very knowledgeable about wine in general and Lodi in particular. He also is distinguished by having a significantly larger ego than I (no small feat, I assure you), which is a benefit since I can then relish in knocking him down a peg or two on occasion (which he needs and secretly loves). And, honestly, if I did not include him on this list, I likely would never have heard the end of it.

This is another in my series about my recent trip to Lodi, California on a media trip  sponsored by the Lodi Winegrape Commission with four other bloggers (Amy of Another Wine Blog, Frank of Drink What YOU Like, Gabe of Gabe’s View, and Julia of Wine Julia) and Mark and Claudia from Snooth.com. For most of the trip we were also joined by Jenny Heitman and Camron King of the Wine Grape Commission


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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12 Responses to Lodi Friday: The Best Region for… (Man) Crush?

  1. Beth says:

    You absolutely are a linguist, no doubt about it! Oh, and this piece, one of your best! See you next week!


  2. NK says:

    Bromances abound!


  3. Lol. Love this. Let’s invite them all over for a BBQ when next you visit Lodi.


  4. Claudia says:

    It’s okay, Jeff. I have a girl crush on Sue Tipton of Acquiesce Winery. Those curvaceous bottles…those sumptuous pairings…the brilliant use of white wine grapes in a red wine grape world…to-die-for, I say! Thank you for creating a safe space to express our true feelings.


  5. Maybe having the name “Markus” scores more points in the man-crush category? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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