If you follow my posts, you know that I adore wine tourism. I love to seek out idyllic destinations around the world where you can enjoy a Vino con Vista; a beautiful place to enjoy wine in the place where it is actually grown. I love places like Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy; the Napa Valley, the Santa Ynez Valley and Sonoma County in California and Bordeaux, Burgundy and The Rhone valley in France. These destinations offer perfect Vino con Vista opportunities. Let’s face it, grapes and vineyards seem to thrive in the most glorious destinations in the world! I guess we can thank the Greeks and the Romans for the fascinating aspects of modern day wine tourism in the sun-drenched vineyards of Lodi California.
I recently discovered an enchanting wine destination along the Mokelumne River in Northern California with over 80 wineries and plenty of tasting rooms. I had a opportunity to get up close and personal with the region’s grapes and many of the multi-generational growers in Lodi at the 9th annual Wine Bloggers Conference.
Located in San Joaquin County between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the region is a wine-lovers paradise! The region’s innovative and passionate producers are generating exceptional food and wine experiences that should catapult Lodi into the wine tourism strastophere! I am so confident about Lodi’s future that I may even buy a place in downtown Lodi. I loved the charming, well-maintained historic California Craftsman bungalows.
It’s relatively close to the UCDavis legendary Department of Viticulture and Enology. Now that I have retired from 30 years as a business professor, maybe I’ll pursue a new degree. I would love to better understand the scientific study of grape-growing and winemaking. It’s never too late, right?
|Type||American Viticultural Area|
|Year established||1986, amended in 2002|
|Sub-regions||Alta Mesa AVA, Borden Ranch AVA, Clements Hills AVA, Cosumnes River AVA, Jahant AVA, Mokelumne River AVA, Sloughhouse AVA|
|Total area||551,000 acres|
|Size of planted vineyards||90,000 acres|
Robert Mondavi was one of the most influential wine gurus in the industry and he grew up in Lodi. In 2001 Robert Mondavi donated $25 million to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UCDavis for the establishment of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, which opened October 2008.
His former high school in Lodi has been converted into a spectacular conference venue. Woodbridge by Michael Mondavi the home of the famous Mondavi winery in Lodi where you can taste some of their higher end wines. The demand for grapes in California’s wine industry has been fueled by the Mondavi and Gallo families. Lodi producers have filled the pipeline for powerhouses like Mondavi, Gallo and Constellation brands for many years. The growth of the tasting rooms in Downtown Lodi are a perfect example of grape-growers pursuing forward integration; the profitability of Mondavi and Gallo has been enhanced by vertical integration strategies.
Many winemakers are following in Mondavi’s footsteps in Lodi. Harney Lane Winery poured their amazing wines at my table at the Wine Blogger Award Event. The estate grown grapes are the product of a 5th generation farming family. The Mettler decendants offer interesting excursions in Lodi, including a Grape to Glass Tour. Most of their award-winning wine inventory sells out in the Tasting Room or to Wine Club members. Michael Davis Vineyards has a full restaurant; they have been in Lodi since the Civil War.
At Estate Crush, we made our own Zinfandel blend and then Bob and Ali Colarossi graciously produced enough bottles of the “WIne Blogger Reserve” for all 300 of the wine bloggers to take home. We had a great time experimenting with different blends produced from their old Zinfandel vines at the “Stellina Vineyard”. The wine bloggers did a blind tasting and selected the 97% Zinfandel, 2% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot as our favorite blend from the Colarossi Estate Crush facility. The Stellina vineyard grapes will soon be part of the Lodi Native Project.
Estate Crush is a dedicated custom crush facility that produces premium custom wine for over 80 clients with more than 120 brands. They have earned many prestigious wine competitions.
We had an amazing Paella dinner prepared by their dear friend J.P. Wetmore poolside surrounded by their lovely Stellina vineyard.
Macchia’s owner Tim Holdener and his bubbly wife Lani poured so many terrific wines that I joined his Wine Club and anxiously await my first shipment. The Barbera was incredible and I loved the dessert wine. The last time I joined a wine club was Moshin in the Russian River Valley and that was many years ago.
At the speed tasting, the wine bloggers had to opportunity to sample some amazing white wines from the Bokisch Winery.
Many of the 80 wineries are winning awards and producing award-winning wines. Located just 90 minutes from San Francisco and 60 minutes from Napa; Lodi produces more wine than Napa and Sonoma combined. Sipping and savoring handcrafted wine produced from multi-generational wine growers and passionate Lodi California winemakers is an excellent way to spend a pleasant wine tourism vacation in Northern California. In addition to the wineries mentioned this far in this post, you can also check out: Vino con Brio at Amarosa Vineyards, Jessie’s Grove, Delicato Family Vineyards, Oal Ridge Winery and Klinker Brick.
Historically, Lodi is best known as the full-bodied “Zinfandel Capital of the World” with many vines that are over 100 years old. It is the home of the famous Seven Deadly Zins. More recently, the “Lodi Native” project is releasing some incredibly luscious old vine Zinfandel wines.
Many Lodi wines are sold exclusively at the respective winery. From the vineyards to the Tasting Rooms, there are plenty of wine tourism opportunities in Lodi.
Lodi is predominately a red winegrowing region (“approximately two-thirds of the acreage is dedicated to red varieties”). More recently, Lodi vintners are increasingly winning awards for their Rhone and Mediterranean style varietals. In addition to Zinfandel, Lodi is currently the nation’s leading producer of several popular varieties including: Chardonnay, Sauvingnon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has over 100 varieties in production.
Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse wines. Lodi’s 100,000 acres of deep loam in the AVAs and the desirable Mediterranean climate creates numerous microclimates that allow an incresingly larger variety of grapes and award-winning wines to thrive. The soil is similar to the French Region of Chateauneuf du Pape. Lodi winemakers are winning awards for their Rhone and Mediterranean varietals.
Here’s a list of varietals from the Lodi Wine Commission’s website:
Albariño, Verdejo, Graciano, Tempranillo, and Garnacha are just a few of the interesting Spanish varieties grown in Lodi soils.
Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão, Souzão, Verdelho, and Tricadeira are grownfinding a natural home in the The wines being produced from these vineyards are utterly delicious. Vibrant, intriguing and refreshing flavors make these varietal wines well worth seeking out.
Kerner, Bacchus, Riesling, Dornfelder, Gewürztraminer, and Zweigelt some of the German varieties grown in Lodi.
Barbera, Aglianco, Sangiovese, Teroldego, and Vermentino made me feel like I was field-tasting in Italy.
Cinsault, Viognier, Syrah, Picpoul Blanc, Tannat and many others are grown in Lodi.
To learn more about Lodi visit:
Book a room at the luxurious Wine and Rose Hotel and Spa on Turner Road www.winerose.com and I’ll meet you at next year’s Zinfest.
Pictures of Diverse Varietals from Around the World (Courtesy of the Lodi Wine Commission)