If you’re hankering for a wine tasting experience that represents genuine family-hospitality and history, look no further. We sat down with Kyle Lerner to talk about his family’s 100+ year-old winery, Harney Lane, founded 1907 by his father-in-law’s great-grandfather in Lodi, California. All of their wines are 100% estate grown and Certified Green. (More on that later.)
Lerner had not expected a life in farming. He received is Bachelor of Science from California State, Fresno in Finance and anticipated a career in business. But he married into a winegrowing family and his life took a new direction. With more than a quarter century of tutelage from his father-in-law on farming the land and running the winery business, Kyle now leads the family’s endeavors.
The vineyards are now Kyle’s primary office. Wife Jorja, who grew up on the land, initially thought she wouldn’t be involved in the family business either. But together with Jorja’s mother, Kathy Mettler, they run the tasting room and all winery operations.
As you can imagine, pride in the family’s estate wines is off the charts. They’ve devoted their lives to producing the finest wines possible and it shows in the bottle. Harney Lane produces several varieties and blends, including Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Albarino, Chardonnay and others.
Their fruit is entirely handpicked, hand sorted, fermented in small lots and then barrel aged in programs unique to each of the wines in their portfolio.
In total, Lerner farms about 550 acres, which they either own, lease or manage. Approximately 10% of that goes into their Harney Lane Winery production. Kyle, of course, serves as vineyard manager, overseeing all aspects of farming, using sustainable practices for his Green Certified vineyards. In fact, all the growers of the 110,000 acre Lodi appellation are so gung-ho on sustainability of the land, they developed their own “Green” growing standards and practices: Lodi Rules.
Lodi Rules grew out of a desire to farm in a way that meets the today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to create their own livelihoods. Its Sustainable Winegrowing Program is the culmination of decades of viticulture research and input from farmers, scientists, and environmentalists – and it continues to evolve and improve, making Lodi’s wines some of the best in the country. Lodi’s warm days and cool delta breezes create ideal growing conditions leading to rich flavors.
Kyle shared the Harney Lane Scottsdale Vineyard Zinfandel with us. It’s a BIG zinfandel, benefiting from aeration. It opens up beautifully over time. The historic Scottsdale Vineyard was one they’d farmed for many years before being able to acquire it in 2014. It’s also known as the “Blueberry Vineyard,” a moniker we could taste in the wine’s flavor profile. The wine would pair perfectly with many rich, winter meals: steaks, burgers, lasagna, cassoulet, brisket, roasts, barbecue…