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ACAMPO — The life of an aristocrat is the stuff of fantasy for many Northern Californians, but now thanks to Lange Twins Family Winery and Vineyards and Wines that Rock, at least we can drink like one.
The companies have partnered on the newest release of Downton Abbey Wines, the Countess of Grantham Collection, a tie-in to the wildly popular PBS show “Downton Abbey.”
“We are thrilled to broaden our Downton Abbey Wine portfolio to include these popular varietals crafted with exceptional California fruit,” said William Zysblat of Wines that Rock and co-founder of Downton Abbey Wines.
Wines that Rock pairs pop culture and wine in an effort to promote local farmers and promote sustainability as well as to have fun. Its labels are licenced by the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. It also has a label tied in to the book “50 Shades of Grey.”
When “Downton Abbey,” came along with its emphasis on elaborate dinner parties and fine wines, it seemed right for Wines that Rock. It also didn’t hurt that the shows audience appeals to a broad age-range and is 75 percent female.
“Downton Abbey rings true to wine,” said Zysblat. “It harkens back to a simpler time when you had wine with every meal but breakfast.”
The first wine the labels offered were bordeaux blends made in France, very much in keeping with what Edwardian aristocrats like “Downton Abbey’s” Crawleys would have drunk. Zysblat said they were very popular, even among customers who didn’t consider themselves bordeaux drinkers.
Customers also indicated they wanted the option of a more modern wine, so the company decided to broaden its offerings with other wines made from California grapes. The question was how to stay true to the Downton Abbey Wine brand with wine people in the Edwardian era would not have drunk.
“What would be appropriate to do in California? Noble whites and reds — cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay,” said Zysblat.
He added the key was to look to the only American-born character on “Downton Abbey,” Cora Crawley, the countess of Grantham, as inspiration. Grapes in California were first planted in the 1860s, about the time the character would have been born, Zysblat said.
The company also wanted to work with a family with a deep history in the area.
“We went in search of a producer who was multi-generational, with old world roots,” said Zysblat.
That narrowed the field to a few families in the Lodi area, and the company settled on Lange Twins in Acampo.
“Our family has been here in Lodi region for five generations,” said Marissa Lange, who leads Lange Twins winery operations. She added that gives “credibility to the brand.”
The result was the Countess of Grantham Collection, a cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, that are meant to be opened and shared with friends, rather than drunk at meals.
Lange said she liked what the Downton Abbey brand stands for.
“It’s a domain that has great consumer appeal and a sense of place,” said Lange. “The wine is crafted to be enjoyed.”
The wine will be released in February, during “Downton Abbey’s” fifth season. It will retail for $14.99 and will be available at grocery stores and wine retailers.