Mike McCay refers to himself as "the native guy," because he's all about native fermentation.
"My whole belief is old school," he says. "All the battles going on that first five brix of fermentation, you have all that competition, that struggle, and I think a lot of the complex layers come from that competition."
His line of vineyard-specific Zinfandels testify to this philosophy, offering a range of complex, nuanced flavors, from bright red fruit to dusty black fruit.
McCay started making wine in 1994, experimenting with small lots from various sites around Lodi, including an estate vineyard encircling his house. He launched his own commercial label in 2007.
"My palate is old world...a lot of guys were going in a different direction at that time and I figured, hey if it didn't work out, we'd have a lot of wine to drink and a lot to give as Christmas gifts," McCay says. "We sold out in three months."
In addition to his line of Zinfandels - Trulux, Equity, Jupiter, Contention and Faith - McCay is adding some Rhône-style wines. The first is a Carignane named Lot 13 (its name on a 1906 plot map) from a vineyard site he recently took over in the Mokelumne River subappellation.
"Lodi, hands down, is the most exciting place in California," McCay says. "There's still winemakers, wineries and growers trying to figure out what their style really is, and because of the climate and soil profiles, you've got to argue Lodi's one of the top places for Zinfandel."
Since launching, McCay's been all about the dirt, finding the tucked-away spots others either didn't discover or shunned in the pursuit of quality.
"There's still a battle about that going on in Lodi," he says. "You're seeing more and more growers who want to see their name on the back of a label or be talked about a little bit, they like that idea. It's a small group, but its coming."