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Lodi's Vineyard to the Stars

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Henry Sorge managed the Bohemian Club in San Francisco and its 2,700-acre Bohemian Grove along the Russian River. Recruited by the jet-setter club from New York’s Waldorf Astoria, Sorge was a wine connoisseur without being a wine snob. Despite the Grove’s location in California’s world-renowned Napa and Sonoma wine country, Sorge looked to lesser known California wineries and vineyards for the wines his palate told him would please members and guests. Abundance Vineyards

Among his favorites would be a blend of Spanish, Portuguese and Southern Rhone varietals--Carignane, Verdelho and Syrah. Grapes for this blend would be purchased by special consignment from Lodi vintners Dino and Ron Mencarini. The brothers came from a family of Lodi farmers whose favorite pastime for generations was winemaking. In 1961, Dino and Ron Mencarini made viticulture their profession.

The fruits of their labor would fill the glasses of Bohemian Grove wine enthusiasts such as Henry Kessinger, Dean Martin, Charlton Heston and Cesar Romero. Sorge ensured the Grove would always be amply supplied with the Mencarini-grape blend by keeping its source a secret from Grove consumers, and by keeping Grove consumers a secret from Dino and Ron Mencarini. Requests by Bohemian members and guests for cases of the wine would be shipped cases identified only as “Bohemian Red.”

Sorge would retire in 1985 and take the secret of Bohemian Red with him. He would say that it was a refined version of Spanish wine he drank in North Africa when a soldier under Rommel. In 2003, Dino and Ron Mencarini founded the family winery, Abundance Vineyards, to blend their grapes themselves. Whether any of their popular blends replicate Bohemian Red is anyone’s guess. What is known is that their wines, made robust by the Lodi sun, would be perfect for the legendary reveling that occurs by torch light and bonfires along the foggy Russian River.


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