The LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards story begins in the 1870s, when identical twins Brad and Randall Lange’s great grandparents settled in the Lodi region on property not far from the winery today. In 1973, the twins decided to start their own company, where the LangeTwins name was coined. As a farm family, their first priority is always the vineyards and ensuring that the vines and the surrounding land are kept in a manner that produces quality wines, but also preserves the land for future generations to have the same opportunities as they have had.
We interview LangeTwins winemaker Karen Birmingham to learn more.
What type of wine do you specialize in?
Here at LangeTwins, we farm over 7,000 acres of vineyards, which is inclusive of 30+ varietals. Our top varietals are some of California’s most classic. Our Cabernet Sauvignon from the Thirty Eight Vineyard is nearly 50 years old and continually produces outstanding, concentrated flavors.
We also craft single vineyard Chardonnay from the Merrill Vineyard in Clarksburg, which is full of toasty brioche notes and tropical flavors that have always been a crowd pleaser. On the more esoteric side, we grow lesser-known Italian varietals like Aglianico, which we also make into a Rosé, and Nero d’Avola.
Share a popular tasting experience?
Tasting at LangeTwins is an exceptional experience. When you arrive at the winery, you are immediately immersed into a working winery. From the tanks to the presses, the customer gets to see the inner workings of the winery up close.
Our Wine Educators in the Tasting Room are attentive to each guest and help customize and build a tasting flight based on preferences and interests – truly a custom experience. We also offer educational experiences that shift seasonally.
Currently, we are running our Midnight Retrospective experience, in which we pour library vintages of our Bordeaux-style Red Blend Midnight Reserve. It’s a remarkable way to taste through the differences between the vintages, as the percentages of each Bordeaux varietal shift slightly to craft the best wine of each vintage.
What makes your wine unique?
LangeTwins wines are made to express the true characteristics of the varietal, vineyard, and vintage. There is a certain respect for the land that is present in our wines that tells the story for us.
When we were designing our label, we knew that we wanted to represent the truly unique characteristics of each vineyard – the design on the front label is taken from soil from the vineyard those grapes were grown to create the artwork.
The twins like to say that when you pick up a glass of our wine, you really are drinking our vineyards, and that’s the truth.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about your winery?
As a winemaker, we work with nearly every team across the winery, and I am always so proud of how special the people are who work at LangeTwins – how passionate they are about their role in making great wines from the Lodi and Clarksburg appellations.
There are a lot of people working in the background, supporting the vineyard and winery operations. Each person works hard every day, often seven days per week during harvest season, proud of their work, passionate about their jobs in making the wines, eager to show the world that great wines come from Lodi.
How did you get started in the wine industry?
Although I grew up in Northern California, and I had considered the wine industry as a career option growing up, I never would have imagined myself here. I was introduced to wine during college at Washington State University and the idea that I could work at a job combining science, art, history, geography that culminated in a unique product whose consumption was an experience to be enjoyed …well that was a fascinating prospect for my future career.
I’ve been inspired by so many people – early inspiration came from teachers, family, and friends that encouraged me to follow my passion, then, as a young winemaker from older experienced mentors that I was fortunate to meet and learn from. Inspiration now comes from consumers, other winemakers, new experiences, and of course the wines and vineyards themselves.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the winemaking process?
The biggest lesson I have learned over my career is that you should never rush winemaking.
Having patience with the wine is perhaps the most important skill. Wine development takes time, and the length of time is different for every wine. Sometimes just letting a wine sit and rest is the best path for a wine.
Do you remember the first time you fell in love with wine?
In the mid-90’s, I traveled through the Yakima Valley in Washington and tasted wines at quite a few small family-owned wineries. I’ve had similar experiences traveling through California, tasting my way through the different appellations. Each wine is a new experience, and my desire to travel and taste new wines only gets greater with each year.
Describe your winemaking approach.
LangeTwins style of making wines is very much about the vineyards – making the best wines each year through classical winemaking, traditional winemaking, with minimal intervention. Great grapes are the most important variable in making a great wine. I am always working to make a wine that reflects the unique characteristics of the vineyard, vintage, and varietal.
Being a part of a company that prioritizes making responsible decisions in the vineyard has made this the nature of how we raise our vineyards and ultimately what we do. It really makes you feel very good about the wines we’re making and the future that this land holds for generations to come.
We have so many different vineyards planted by the Langes, farmed by the Langes, and we make the wines here from start to finish, so we can always take them in new and exciting directions.
What do you love about winemaking?
I love that each year is different thanks to Mother Nature. There is a bit of uncertainty about each vintage and how the wines are going to taste, so each year is an opportunity to make something unique. It’s a job that you get better at every year, watching wines from harvest through bottling, a process that can take many years for some wines.