Nestled in the heart of Lodi’s Wine Country, and opportunely positioned from both I-5 and Highway 99, lays the classic and stunning elegance of Viaggio Estate & Winery. “Viaggio,” Italian for “journey,” is a Tuscan-themed estate where visitors are welcomed by a gated archway inscribed, “Where Your Journey to Forever Begins.”
Teri Lawrence and her husband Larry, once Realtors in Lodi, have owned the winery, which originally opened in 2009, since May 2012. As someone who enjoyed wine and never thought she would one day be a winemaker, let alone own a winery, Lawrence plunged right in to the art of wine making.
“It was harvest time of our first year and we were with our investing partners when the question came up, ‘Who will make our wine?’” Lawrence, a UC Davis grad and state licensed microbiologist-biochemist, said. “We bought a winery and need to make it work, so I said I would do it.”
One of the partners at the time doubted her and said, “Lil Missy, you’ll never make wine,” which Lawrence took as a personal challenge. With her no-fear attitude and enthusiastic approach, she hired a personal wine consultant to further enhance her wine making abilities and help make her venture a success.
Lawrence said she was schooled by Heather Pyle of Lucas Winery.
“Heather told me, ‘I will not make the wine, but will teach you, but do what I tell you,’” Lawrence said. “She was a tough master, but it worked.”
In 2012 Viaggio made only four varietals. This year they’ve released 13, including the “Lil Missy” Zinfandel – fittingly named for the partner’s comment.
This year the Viaggio 2012 Barbera won Gold and Best of Class at the State Fair. Their Temparnillo won silver along with a silver for their 2013 Chardonnay. The Viaggio 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon won a silver medal at the New York International show.
This New Year’s Eve, Viaggio is hosting their second Masquerade Ball, a dinner and dance celebration to ring in 2016.
The $95 per person ticket includes a prix-fixe three-course dinner by Executive Chef Bernardo Martinez featuring a Wagyu beef and U10 prawns on a skewer. The Wagyu beef is known for its marbling characteristics and, with its naturally enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness, is one of the most coveted in the world.
“It’ll be wonderful,” said Martinez, who has shown a consistent passion and creativity in his culinary works. “I’m considering a sauce for the beef that will really enhance its flavor.”
The event includes unlimited wine and beer with a midnight champagne toast. Live music for dancing will be provided by Big Booty Bob & the Backside Kickers, a classic rock and country group.
“There’ll also be local transportation to anyone that needs it,” Lawrence said.
Doors open for the masquerade party, a formal event, at 7:30 p.m. but a pre-party with wine and hors d’oeuvres is planned for the tasting room at 6 p.m. Reservations are required and tickets can be purchased from their website athttp://www.viaggiowinery.com
Viaggio Estate & Winery is located at 100 East Taddei Rd., in Lodi. Tasting hours are Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday it is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m..
For more information about the party or their wines call (209) 368-1378.
GETTING THERE: A formal attire dinner and dance
WHEN: Pre-party starts at 6 p.m. with dinner served at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Viaggio Estate & Winery, 100 East Taddei Rd., in Lodi
TICEKTS: $95 per person ticket includes a prix-fixe three-course dinner by Executive Chef Bernardo Martinez featuring a Wagyu beef and U10 prawns on a skewer. Reservations are required and tickets can be purchased at