The towns of Acampo and Lodi, California know well the name Peirano and the fruit and wine that comes from their estate vineyards. Both a family legacy and town legend are associated with this family name and with the history of winemaking in this area. We visited Peirano Estate Vineyards while on our Lodi trail in 2016 and learned about the vineyards’ long family ownership, the town folklore of appeasing the “weather gods”, and about Peirano being one of the few wineries around that has thrown their wine club out with the proverbial “bath water”.
The Peirano Family Are Here to Stay
Four generations and going strong. The current owner and fourth generation family member of Peirano Estate is Lance Randolph. Lance continues to grow grapes on the same 300 acres that his great-grandfather, Giacomo Peirano, purchased in the late 1800’s. Giacomo was an immigrant to the U.S. from Genoa, Italy where his family were longtime vineyard owners and producers of Zinfandel grapes. When he returned to Italy to collect his bride and bring her to the U.S. he also brought with him some cuttings from his family vineyard, propagated these cuttings and began his new vineyard and new life in Lodi, California.
Over the years the ownership of the vineyard changed hands within the family, being passed down first to Giacomo’s sons, Charlie, William and George; next to Charlie’s daughter and son-in-law, Charlotte and Randy Randolph; and then finally to Charlotte and Randy’s son Lance who simply states, “A family that works together stays together, and the vineyards are a big part of our family. It’s as simple as that!”
For the Peirano’s, the tradition was not only about handing down the family vineyards, but also about handing down the farming practices. The vineyards still serve as home to the original Italian Zinfandel vines on their natural rootstock, and Lance continues to head prune the vines in the traditional method and hand harvest as did his great-grandfather and those before him.
The “Red Short” Legend
Ask any grape farmer in Lodi or Acampo if they have any tricks up their sleeves to protect their crops all the way through harvest and they will most likely tell you, “Oh sure! We put all our faith in Mr. Red Shorts!” “Mr. Red Shorts?” you ask. And then out flows the story.
One summer day over 25 years ago, Lance, being the ever-so-practical farmer that he was, decided it made no sense to wear long, hot, heavy jeans while tending the fields in the hot California sun. He thought that shorts would be much more appropriate. So down to the local sporting goods store he went where he found a great buy on shorts – red shorts to be exact. Again, being practical, and since the shorts were such a good buy, he bought several pairs to make it through the long summer. Each day as he worked in the fields his neighboring growers would pass by, honk their horns, and shout comments such as “Nice legs!” simply to razz him about it.
This went on for several years until one day in 1994 at a growers meeting one of the speakers made a crack about Lance’s red shorts and skinny legs. In good humor, Lance acknowledged the chiding and told the crowd that he was wearing the shorts “for them”. His concocted story was that he begins wearing the shorts every year beginning April 1st to appease the weather god and keep the dreaded April frost away saving all the growers’ crops from devastation. And further, he continues to wear the shorts every year until the last grower has brought in his harvest, appeasing the weather god once more to hold off on the harvest rains. He jokingly reminded them that he was sacrificing so that they wouldn’t have to.
And then, along came 1997, a year when the weather god was very active! The growing season turned out to be spectacular producing one of the best Lodi vintages. Usually, the harvest is finished by November 1st, but this year, with the extra long growing season, the Cabernet grapes remained in the field to get the last few days of ripening. With no rain forecasted and cooler daytime temps, Lance changed into his jeans to finish out the season. Big mistake apparently! Within 3 hours the heavens opened up and dumped 2 inches of rain in 45 minutes ruining acres of Cabernet. Depressed over his Cabernet loss, he walked back to his office and found 136 missed calls on his phone all asking “Lance, do you have on your red shorts?” The story goes that Lance called each and every person back and admitted that he indeed had changed into jeans, apologized and promised to put his red shorts back on the very next morning. And so he did and the rain stopped immediately. Hence, the legend was born.
Superstitious as it may be, Lance continues to wear his red shorts every year and accepts his fellow growers razzing with a smile.
“We Hate Wine Clubs!”
Their words, not ours! 🙂 So, what’s this all about, you ask? Well, the folks at Peirano really find the wine club to be kind of a nuisance. So they came up with an alternative that works for them and seems to really please their loyal customer base. They have only ONE price! Everything, whether red, white or rosé, is only $14/bottle. But wait. There’s more! If you buy a case, mix ’em, match ’em, red, white or rosé, a case is ONLY $84! That is $7/bottle! These prices just can’t be beaten and for such delicious wine. They call this their “unbeatable everyday FAMILY pricing”, and hope, as they say, that “you join the family”!
The Winer’s Experience
|AMBIANCE||GROUNDS & SCENERY||TASTING ROOM|
|Intimate and personal. This place is all about legacy and red shorts!||Picnic du jour! Interspersed with head-trained vines at your fingertips. Loads of fun!! Live their life for a few hours.||Feels like walking into a friends’ home. Cozy, welcoming (parlor area)…just plain comfortable.|
|WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE||CUSTOMER SERVICE||TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE|
|Nicely paced to let you enjoy your wine or simply taste through. They allow you to choose. Our host, Steven, is really into the wines and can give his opinion if requested.||Relaxed like an old friend!||Steven was very helpful with identifying aromas through each of the varietals.|
Vineyard & Winery Information
|Peirano Estate Vineyards||21831 N. Highway 99 (West Frontage Road), Acampo, CA 95220|
|Thurs – Mon 11 am – 5 pm|
|MUSIC||WINE CLUB||TASTING FEE|
|Check calendar for activity schedule||Heck NO! You don’t need one with their prices!||None|
|No||Yes, picnic kits||Feel free to use the property to picnic or come watch a movie in the vineyard (check website)|