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From the Vine: Ripon winery has Lodi acreage

McManis Family Vineyards, which relies mostly on grapes grown near its Ripon winery, now has a stake in the Lodi area.

Owners Ron and Jamie McManis have bought 240 acres of cabernet sauvignon and syrah vines in the Borden Ranch area, just east of Galt. The land is part of the highly regarded Lodi appellation.

"We've been buying grapes from that area for quite a while, and this just confirms our commitment to that area," Ron McManis said Wednesday.

The winery already owned about1,400 acres, most of them in the River Junction appellation, named for the spot where the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers meet.

The McManis family has grown grapes near Ripon since 1938, and the winery produced its first bottles in 2001. It is among several producers aiming to show that Lodi is not the only part of the San Joaquin Valley that can make good wine.

McManis also announced its latest release, a 2006 pinot grigio made mostly from River Junction grapes.

Is the Piccinini family of Save Mart fame now in the winemaking business? Not exactly.

The Modesto-based grocery chain has started selling a couple of Italian wines under that label, but it is no relation to Chief Executive Officer Bob Piccinini, spokeswoman Alicia Rockwell said.

Still, the wines — a chianti and a pinot grigio — have been featured prominently in Save Mart's newspaper ads and had a prime position in the wine department at the H Street store this week.

The chianti, priced at $4.99 this week, is from Tuscany in the west-central part of Italy. The pinot grigio, at $3.99, is from Venezia in the northeast.

Save Mart plans to sell a Piccinini lambrusco, a red wine, by late summer, Rockwell said.

California winemakers are toasting the tentative trade agreement reached this week between the United States and South Korea.

The pact, if ratified by both governments, would eliminate tariffs that have limited U.S. wine exports to South Korea.

"For the first time in a long time, we negotiated an (agreement) with a country that has a real opportunity for U.S. wine and grape juice concentrate sales," said Rodney Schatz of Lockeford, chairman of the California Association of Wine-grape Growers, in a news release.

Even with the tariffs, South Korea has become the 12th largest market for U.S. wine, the majority of it from the San Joaquin Valley and other parts of California, according to The Wine Institute. Exports to the Asian nation were valued at $11.3 million last year, the San Francisco-based group said.

France is the No. 1 exporter of wine to South Korea, the institute said, but the trade pact could help U.S. producers wrest the No. 2 spot from Chile.

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