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The Central Valley, California's agricultural heartland, is actually 2 valleys that stretch almost 500 miles down the center of the state. The Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley are bordered on the east by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and by the Coast Range to the west. The total acreage under wine grape cultivation in the Central Valley dwarfs all other California regions.

Spend a lazy afternoon tasting wine at a local Lodi winemaker. Discover the reason why both wine experts and toursts are calling the Lodi in the California Central Valley as the hottest new destination for wine tasting Lodi is situated just 35 miles due south from Sacramento and just 90 miles east from San Francisco. 

Brothers Bradford and Randall Lange,
grape growers and winery owners
from Lodi win award

By Reed Fujii
Record Staff Writer
December 08, 2006 6:00 AM

San Joaquin County's wine and grape industry is pioneering ways to protect the environment while cultivating economic success, judging by statewide awards announced this week.

Brothers Bradford and Randall Lange, grape growers and winery owners from Lodi, won the first-ever Leopold Conservation Award for California, which recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation among farmers.

Also, the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission earned the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the state of California's highest environmental honor given to individuals, organizations and businesses.

The Langes, who direct production on 6,500 acres of Lodi-area vineyards and this year opened their new LangeTwins Wine Estates winery in Acampo, have long tended to the care of the environment as well as their business interests.

"What we've done in terms of sustainable agriculture ... is what we've been doing since we started farming 35 years ago," Bradford Lange said Wednesday. Those practices range from directing their children, now young adults, to identify and nurture oak seedlings and putting up wood-duck nest boxes to restoring riparian land a dozen years ago and helping develop a "safe-harbor" agreement that could lead farmers to encourage recovery of endangered species on their lands.

That model agreement gives growers and ranchers the opportunity to restore natural habitat on their properties without having to fear that the reappearance of a protected species might restrict their farming operations, said Terry Young, a senior consulting scientist with Environmental Defense, a national nonprofit organization.

"Without a safe-harbor agreement, the landowner might feel that no good deed goes unpunished," said Young, who also helped draft the safe-harbor pact and whose organization was one nominating the Lange brothers for the Leopold award.

"These landmark agreements don't get done without leadership from landowners like the Langes. That's why their participation is so valuable," she explained.

Her group strives to create innovative and practical solutions to society's most urgent environmental problems.

"In terms of the bigger picture, we at Environmental Defense hope we're entering a new era where landowners and conservationist can work as partners to restore and protect valuable habitats."

That agreement, which was signed in July and could be extended to other landowners in the Lower Mokelumne River Watershed, will allow the Lange brothers to plant their first elderberry bushes - host plant of the endangered valley elderberry longhorn beetle - as part of a riparian restoration project.

Bradford Lange said at least part of the $10,000 cash prize that comes with the Leopold Award will go toward that work.

"We look forward to using part of that money to buy a bunch of bushes, getting them out there and getting them planted and bringing that agreement to life," he said.

The Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, one of 14 winners of this year's governor's award, was cited for numerous accomplishments. According to the award program:

"LWWC's program includes grower education and outreach, field implementation with one-on-one assistance, the Lodi Winegrower's Workbook self assessment and, in 2005, a third-party sustainable winegrowing certification program, The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing."

That program sets standards for environmental impact, economic viability, employee treatment and community relations all subject to third-party certification.

Clifford Ohmart, research director, said he was pleased at the governor's award.

"It's recognized the fact that the Winegrape Commission is the leader in winegrape sustainability," he said.

Contact reporter Reed Fujii at (209) 546-8253 or rfujii@recordnet.com

"Used with permission from recordnet.com web site, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc."

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San Joaquin Valley FunFun Page Links; Stockton Recreation; Family Attractions; San Joaquin Valley Fun; Area Night Spots; Golfing; Professional Sports; The Delta; Wineries The Central Valley, California's agricultural heartland and more ...

Golfing Stockton is also home to many beautiful private and public golf courses including Brookside Country Club, Home of the Candian Tour Northern California Classic, The Reserve at Spanos Park, Stockton Golf and Country Club, and the City of Stockton Public courses, Swenson, Van Buskirk, and Lyons.

Professional Sports: Stockton is home to the Stockton Ports Professional Baseball, the Stockton Thunder Professional Hockey, the California Cougars Professional Indoor Soccer, and the Stockton Lightning Professional Arena 2 Football Teams

The Delta: The Sacramento California Delta is an endless network of rivers, tributaries, and channels that offer an incredible boating experience. Originally used by miners and settlers during the 1848 Gold Rush, the Delta is still as beautiful and mysterious as ever. You can cruise for days, exploring islands, fishing, swimming or sunning.

The Central Valley, California's agricultural heartland, is actually 2 valleys that stretch almost 500 miles down the center of the state. The Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley are bordered on the east by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and by the Coast Range to the west. The total acreage under wine grape cultivation in the Central Valley dwarfs all other California regions.

Beyond San Joaquin: In addition to the various things to do in San Joaquin, the county acts as a hub to even more fun and attractions. From skiing the sierras to a scenic drive along the coast, San Joaquin is your gateway to the best of Northern California.

Ski Resorts: Our Guide to Northern California ski connection, your interactive guide to skiing in Northern California and Nevada.

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