Locally made world class wineBY MELISSA HUTSELL
Take a stroll through downtown Lodi, and you will quickly notice that you have stepped into a wine-lovers paradise. The romantic city is at the center of the region’s wine country. Quaint and rustic, Lodi and its top-notch tasting rooms and award-winning wineries that line either side of the main streets, make the city one of the Central Valley’s main attractions.
Although the city first claimed recognition after the Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969 song, titled “Lodi,” and being the birthplace of A&W; Root beer, it is now rapidly gaining attention for its wines, joining internationally renowned Napa Valley and Sonoma County as Californian wine stars. Lodi is recognized by several wine enthusiast publications and organizations, and claims the title of the Zinfandel Capital of the World. But the small Central Valley city offers much more than just that. The area is home to more than 70 different wineries, from award winning reds to recognizable whites and everything in between.
For a taste of what the region has to offer, take a stroll through Downtown Lodi and choose from a selection of nearly 200 different wines, most made locally, at the city’s more than 40 tasting rooms. The romantic scenery and variety of locations offers a chance to explore a variety of tastes and specialties within walking distance.
Each tasting experience offers a distinctive experience, from the different types of wine and pairings, to the food, atmosphere and ambiance. Each winery and tasting room carriers a special selection of brands, individual to them, giving visitors and locals a seemingly endless supply of options.
“You can’t get everywhere in one weekend,” says Joe Majarro, local and costumer at Cellar Door, one of the downtown tasting galleries along N. School Street. “You have got to come back. All [wineries] are slightly different,” Majarro adds as he sips on his favorite Lodi Wine, Bokisch Vineyard’s Garnacha – gold and silver medalists from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Festival.
To him, downtown Lodi is fantastic for its eclectic variety of tasting rooms and shops, and the opportunity to socialize with those who make the products.
This diversity makes Lodi so attractive to wine tasters and makers.
“Most wines are different here,” says Jeremy Trettevik, owner of Jeremy Wine Co., who serves/makes primarily Italian and Spanish wines. With so many different selections, it is hard to pick a favorite. “Choosing a favorite wine is like choosing a favorite kid,” says Trettevik.
While it may be impossible to compare the different brands, there is guaranteed to be something to satisfying everyone’s tastes.
In addition to a huge selection of wines, Lodi also offers visitor a chance to get to know the passionate wine-makers themselves. Generations of family grape growers and wine-masters are rooted into the region, making the wine so exquisite. Experience their enthusiasm for their products as you get to know them and their wines.
Downtown Lodi’s tasting rooms also provide diversity in ambiance and atmospheres. While all are relaxing and inviting, visitors can choose between indoor or outdoor seating while being served the finest food, pairings, bakery items and brands. Step inside The Dancing Fox and taste award-winning wines made from Lewis Family Estate Vineyards in Lodi, or enjoy full course meals, impeccable breads, pastries and desserts. Visit Wine Social for a laid back and relaxing environment and mouth watering pairings such as a chocolate plate and chilled wine in a bucket as you enjoy the cool indoors or patio seating. But don’t stop you there; get more tastes of Lodi at one of the 14 downtown locations including One Way Winery, Riaza, Toasted Toad Cellars, or Vinedos Aurora, among others.
Whether you are in the mood for a day trip or searching for the perfect locally made glass of wine, Lodi has it all. But, it is more than great wine. The region offers an abundance of fresh agriculture, making for perfect pairings such as olive oil. While hopping between tasting rooms, visit the collection of shops and antiques along the way, and truly relish all this regions has to offer.
For more information, including a complete listing of wineries and tasting rooms, visitlodiwine.com
or the Lodi Wine and Visitors Center at 2545 W. Turner Road, Lodi. (209) 365-0621.