Spenker Winery in Lodi has been owned and farmed by the Spenker family since 1902. In the beginning, the farm’s focus was on growing wine grapes. In the early 1990s Chuck Spenker got into home winemaking and would host crush parties with friends and family, which is where he met Bettyann and fell in love.
“She got invited to one of his parties,” said Sarah Spenker Pratt about her parents. “She was a high school chemistry teacher at Lodi High, so it was a match made in heaven — a chemistry person which after a few batches of wine found out that she was actually the better winemaker. So, she took over that part and he does the farming.”
They started a winery in 1994 to highlight the quality of their Zinfandel grapes.
As Lodi’s reputation for wine tourism grew, Spenker opened their own tasting room to the public. A few years later, the farm expanded to include goats and the production of 100% goat cheese.
“The goats came about because my sister and I went off to college and my mom replaced her kids with kids and got a couple of goats,” said Spenker Pratt. “She just started doing cheesemaking because she loved the similarity in the chemistry, it’s another fermentation process. She was just making it for fun and she had always wanted farm animals on a farm…People were really loving our cheese, and so it’s like, well, you can’t make wine and have this cheese hidden on the side.”
Spenker became the first creamery in Lodi and got their license in 2019. They offer fresh cheese, like ricotta, as well as soft-ripened cheeses and aged cheeses. Spenker also sells other products like fresh eggs, bottled milk and frozen yogurt.
“That was just a little side thing that my mom would always make for us. But then all of our inspectors were like, ‘oh, that sounds way too good, you need to keep that’,” said Spenker Pratt about the frozen yogurt made from goat milk.
The winery offers a wine and cheese tasting at their tasting room. The tasting room is open from noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Curbside pickup of wine and cheese is also available.
Spenker Winery 2018 Evening Prim Rose
Evening Prim Rose is a cheery blend of Syrah and Zinfandel grapes. It has a bright character, with strawberry and cherry undertones. It is paired with Spenker’s Diablo’s Sunset, a Tomme-style aged cheese rubbed with a combination of cocoa and chili powder. It has a firm texture, buttery flavor and earthy aroma.
Spenker Winery 2014 Zinfandel
This Zinfandel is fruit forward with a feel of cinnamon spice, black cherry and black pepper. It is paired with Spenker’s Goat with a Pearl aged cheese, a hickory smoked Gouda-style cheese that is semi-hard, smooth and savory.
Spenker Family Farm Winery and Creamery
17291 N. DeVries Rd., Lodi
Tasting room is open noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday