Beyond Napa: Lodi Wine Region
Located two hours east of San Francisco, the Lodi Wine Region is in California’s primary agricultural area. While many of these wineries have been growing grapes for decades, most have only been producing their own wines for a short time. This is a relaxed place where they consider themselves farmers first and winemakers second.
When you visit most tasting rooms, you are likely to talk with the winemaker or a family member. This makes for an educational tasting and great interactionnot found in Napa Valley. Zinfandel is the primary wine produced here, but they grow more than 20 other varietals, including some Spanish grapes. You may be lucky enough to taste some fantastic old-vine Zinfandels from hundred-year old vines.
There are more than 40 wineries, ranging from intimate tasting rooms to full-scale Napa-like operations, and everything in between. There is a thriving nightlife scene in downtown Lodi on the weekends, with live music, good restaurants, and bars serving locally produced wine.
The St. Jorge Winery produces Portuguese wines in a charming Mediterranean setting. The courtyards have a fountain and statues,and the tasting room retains an old-world ambiance. Open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
David Lucas of Lucas Winery is one of the veterans of Lodi’s wine industry. Hehad decades of experience in the wine business before starting his own winery.His wife, Heather, is considered one of the top 10 winemakers in the world. Make reservations for their in-depth winemaker tour, which takes an hour and a half and concludes with wine tasting in the Grand Chai barrel room (limited to six people).Open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m.
The Lange Twins produce and manage vineyards for other wineries and they are now producing their own wines. You are likely to meet a family member when sampling their wine, since this is a family operation. They make award-winning wines that will make you want to join their wine club. Tasting by appointment – call Charlene at (209) 334-9780.
Harney Lane has a comfortable tasting room and shop, as well as outdoor seating areas. They make delicious wine and host wine events throughout the year. Their Lizzy James Vineyard features old-vine Zinfandels from 1904. Open noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
Downtown Lodi has two wineries that you must visit: The Grands Amis Winery is a small-production, award-winning wine producer.The tasting room is open Friday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment during the week.
The Jeremy Wine Company, another small producer, is making distinctive wines with beautiful wine labels. Enjoy sipping their wines in their historic tasting room with a vintage bar, open Wednesday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Wine and Roses is the best place to stay in Lodi. It has beautifully appointed guest rooms, all with luxury linens, comfortable pillows, balconies or patios – some with fireplaces.You may not want to leave the hotel to go wine-tasting because of the fabulous spa and treatments. Fortunately, the Lodi Wine Commission has a tasting room in the lobby of the hotel, so enjoy a glass of wine during check-in.
The Wine and Roses Restaurant serves gourmet cuisine from French chef Didier Gerbi. His delicious menu includes dishes made from fresh local ingredients which will put a smile on your face. The wine list has many local wines from which to select, and the bar has live music on the weekends.
The Rosewood Bar and Grill located in downtown Lodi has an extensive menu of classic American cuisine, including pizza and pastas, and selections to satisfy every craving. They have live music on Friday nights.
The Lodi Beer Company is the place to quench your thirst after a rigorous day of wine tasting. They serve tasty food that pairs well with their selection of brews.