Eight years ago, Al Bechthold was selling grapes from his Lodi vineyard for $250 a ton to people wanting something lively and aromatic for red blends.

He knew the vineyard had been planted by his wife’s great-grandfather in 1885 with money he made from charging gold miners 25 times the ordinary cost for supplies.  But nobody thought the grape variety, which he believed was Black Malvoisie, was anything special.

Boy, was everyone wrong.

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