Lodi’s “Red Shorts” Superstition

Lodi’s superstition surrounding Lance Randolph, fourth generation grower, owner and winemaker of Peirano Estate Vineyards, and his red shorts dates back over twenty years.  Traditionally, farmers wear jeans all year round out in the fields.  Always being rebellious, Lance refused to wear his jeans in the warm Lodi summer days, so he decided to go to a local sporting goods store and purchase a pair of shorts.  Being the thrifty man that he is and finding red shorts that were on sale, he figured he may as well purchase several pairs to last him throughout the season.

Lodi2.pngFrom day one, local growers would drive by whistling and shouting cat calls such as “nice legs” as Lance worked in the fields with his red shorts on.  This went on for several years until 1994 where at a grape growers meeting, Lodi’s great superstition was born.  Around four hundred local growers were in attendance at this meeting.   The speaker who was giving a presentation to the group looked down from the podium at Lance, who was sitting in the front row with his red shorts on, and announced to the audience, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m tired of seeing Lance’s skinny legs in those red shorts”.  After a round of chuckles, Lance, being highly embarrassed, got up on stage, took the microphone, and spontaneously created a viable story to justify his skinny legs in his red shorts.  He said, “I put these red shorts on April 1st of every year, because, as you all know, we have the potential as growers to lose our crop to frost between April 1st and April 15th, and  I don’t take these shorts off until every grower in Lodi completes their harvest in late fall to protect our crops from harvest rains”.  Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “These red shorts are sacrificial shorts to the weather god”.  Once again, a round of cat calling, jeering, and laughing subsequently ensued.

For the next three years, with stellar results of no spring frost or harvest rains, Lance continued to wear his red shorts.  In 1997, the Lodi Appellation had one of the best vintages and one of longest growing seasons ever.  Normally, all grapes in Lodi are harvested by November 1st.  On this particular year, the Cabernet grapes remained yet to be picked.  The weather report stated cold temperatures with no chance of rain for the rest of the year.  As a result, Lance took off his red shorts and put his jeans on, figuring there was only a week or two of harvest left anyway.  Three hours later, the sky suddenly got dark and poured down two inches of rain in 45 minutes, ruining approximately 3000 cases of potential Cabernet wine he had harvested for his Peirano label.  Depressed, Lance walked back to his office to sulk when he noticed 136 missed calls on his cell phone.  Perplexingly, he checked his voice messages, all from growers, and heard what sounded like a broken record, “Do you have your red shorts on?”  “Do you have your red shorts on?”  “Lance, do you have your red shorts on?”  Shamefully, Lance returned all 136 missed calls and admitted to each and every grower that he had failed in his responsibility to the Lodi grape growers and would put his red shorts back on the very next morning.  The rain ceased immediately!

Lodi1.pngAfter the last grower completed his harvest in early December, Lance took off his red shorts, once again, and put on his jeans.  A few hours later, he literally watched the rain come pouring down.  It did not cease until February of the following year.  Lance is now known throughout Lodi as “Mr. Red Shorts” for his ability to atone the rashness of the weather god and continues to wear his red shorts today!

As an ode to the sacrificial red shorts and the town of Lodi which legend has it named itself after  Giacomo Peirano’s horse from Lodi, Italy, Alta Genoa,, Peirano’s newest blend is named Red Shorts Red (70% Syrah, 20% Petite Sirah, 5% Cab, 5% Viognier), with a picture of his red shorts adorning the bottle and an abbreviated version of this story on the back