Since their Great Great Grandfather Andrew Harshner and his wife Lucille homesteaded 160 acres close to the town of Lodi in the 1860s, the Phillips family has been engaged in farming. A natural affinity for grape growing developed swiftly in the area, and by the turn of the past century, 25% of California’s grape land was in Lodi. Many of the state’s pioneering wineries closed down a generation later.
The Phillips’ farms, which were initially focused on vegetables, eventually expanded to include a variety of fruits, as well as fifteen different wine varietals that were delivered throughout the nation during Prohibition with instructions on “how not to have the grapes turn into wine.” As a result, Lodi growers benefited from Prohibition since families all over the country continued to drink wine with meals by ordering these grapes and “juice” to be bottled at home.
The fifth generation of growers in Lodi now is Michael and David Phillips, and things are shifting. There is plenty of room for exploration and invention with 650 acres of excellent wine vines. The Mokelumne River, which transports crystal-clear water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and deposits minerals into the rich soils upon which the grapes flourish, irrigates the vineyards. Michael David Winery attempts to use only natural methods, including integrated pest management, beneficial insects for pest control, trellising, leaf-pulling, and naturally occurring mined sulfur for mildew treatment, even if it is not certified organic.