By Rick Riozza

Don’t freak out!—but the Freakshow Wine Portfolio is indeed one of the most popular line-up of wines on our shelves today. And while everyone seems to have a favorite wine or two, be it known that there is an overarching production company: The Michael David Winery. This winery is a tour de force as one of the leading wineries in the U.S., distributing nationwide and in more than thirty countries.

“Michael” and “David” are the Phillips brothers whose family has farmed fruits and vegetables in the Lodi region since the 1850s, cultivating wine grapes for nearly a century. The brothers are 5th generation grape growers who have raised their families in the vineyard, and now the 6th generation has joined the team, Mike’s daughter Melissa.

Farming with future generations in mind, the Phillips have adopted some of the most progressive sustainable farming practices in the state.


All 800 acres of the family vineyards are third party certified following the “Lodi Rules” for sustainable winegrowing: a set of over 100 standards that account for all aspects of making quality wine in a sustainable manner: environmental, social, and economic. This certification helps both wineries and consumers to make better choices when it comes to making and drinking wine.

The winery states: “We live by these rules, and will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the Lodi Rules lower back tattoo on one of our winemakers. These rules have been vetted by scientists, academics, and environmental groups worldwide, and are the most thorough set of sustainable viticultural standards in the entire state of California.

“We’ve called Lodi our home for 6 generations, and our winery, still family-run, continues to stay committed to the land, community, and spirit of our hometown. Plus, we’re pretty fun too. We’ve always appreciated the importance of quality wines with unique and fun labels. Please go to our website at to check out our colorful and circus-themed artistry that showcases all of our wines.”

(Actually, I urge you interested folks to indeed go to the website to check out the 16+ wines they produce, because we don’t have the space nor the time to cover what we’d like to.)

All right! So much for the quick bring-us-up-to speed bio. Let’s get started covering a few of the many wine brands that the winery produces: The brands have 8 different categories to help keep the lineup straight.

Running with circus speak, the Freakshow Lineup: “Step right up for a wine experience like no other. Known for taking the road less traveled, we have always stood apart from the crowd, and Freakshow wines do just that!”

Here, we have a Cab, Chard, Red Blend, and a Zin. As mentioned, the fruit quality of these wines are wonderful but fruit forward. And the circus speak continues, as they describe their wine. For instance, the Cabernet Sauv notes state: Step aside and make room for the World’s Strongest Man! Cab is King and he’s larger than life. Broad shouldered and brawny with bold flavors and a medium body. 2021 Freakshow Cab opens with aromas of black cherry, raspberry and toasted hazelnut, with flavors of juicy dark fruit, strawberry jam and clove with a smooth, lasting finish.

The label art does reflect the strong man—but I think you already know that. We’ve all seen it on the wine shelf.

The Zinfandel states: Be amazed! The seductive Fire Mistress unveils a side of Lodi Zin few have seen—focused on showcasing the bright, pure fruit flavors and spice of Lodi’s famed variety. With notes of distinctive bright fruit and vanilla on the nose, it’s medium bodied with seductive flavors of cherry, cranberry and peppery spice. It finishes with a balanced, oak-inspired finish that will amaze.

The next category is fun and interesting. Here, the winery utilizes the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake in naming another different category: Earthquake. Further, the label art features the true seismograph reading from the 1906 Earthquake! Here, the Cab Sauv and Zin are different wines from above. These wines have more concentrated fruit and are full-bodied.

The Earthquake 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon opens with bold, layered aromas of dark plum, blackberry and mocha in the glass. Full bodied, this 2020 Cab is filled with intense flavors of boysenberry, espresso and toasted marshmallow leading to a trembling, oak-inspired finish.

The Earthquake 2018 Zinfandel opens with luscious red fruit and brown sugar aromas; this full-bodied Zin overflows with strawberry jam, molasses and vanilla bean flavors carried though by a fruit laced lingering finish.

The Sirah Syrah category contains A blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot –cleaverly titled Petite Petit! As full bodied as the two stars of the label, It opens with aromas of ripe summer berries, Bing cherry and worn leather, this wine showcases rich flavors of plum, boysenberry and dark chocolate on the palate. Dark, robust and deep! It’s quite popular and sells off the shelves.

Inkblot category are high-end single varietal wines, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Petit Sirah. My favorite is the Petit Verdot:

The 2020 Inkblot Petit Verdot is the first Petit Verdot varietal wine produced by Michael David Winery and one of the few ever produced from Lodi. Because of the high level of tannin, color, and concentration, this wine is always put into new barrels early in the harvest season.

This wine is absolutely delicious and is a stunner!! Bring out the steaks! Deep purple in the glass, aromas of strawberry and raspberry mingle with hints of cedar box and floral notes. Complemented by velvety tannins and voluptuous plum, dark berry and cardamom flavors, this wine is framed by a long, complex finish. A rich, weighty full-bodied red!

Michael David has just put out a magnificent Sauvignon Blanc. We’ll spend more time on that one in a couple of weeks.

So welcome back my friends to the wine show that never ends! Cheers!