Despite the seven cases of wine we already have on board the Road House, we were total excited about our three day stop in Lodi California. Yes, we do have a bit of a fascination with wine and I am not holding a grudge about my broken toe.
Lodi is a city located in San Joaquin County, California, in the northern portion of California’s Central Valley with a diverse population of about 65,000 people.
Lodi is best known for being a center of wine grape production – I personally think it is the “Zinfandel Capital of the World”, although its vintages have traditionally been less prestigious than those of Sonoma and Napa counties. However, in recent years, the Lodi Appellation has become increasingly respected for its Zinfandel wine and other eclectic varietals, along with its focus on sustainability under the Lodi Rules program. National recognition came from the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Lodi” and continues with the “2015 Wine Region of the Year” award given to Lodi by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
I suspect that the founding fathers are less proud of the fact that Lodi gained international attention in 2005 when local residents Hamid and Umer Hayat were arrested and charged in the first terrorism trial in the state of California.
That small blip in history aside, I can think of worse places than Lodi to be stuck and while it did our rain torrentially for about 15 hours on our second day there, that did not detour us from getting out and exploring the wineries.
Lodi wineries are diverse and with 85+ wineries, this beautiful wine country offers an amazing variety of tasting opportunities.
We prefer smaller, more intimate experiences but visitors will find Lodi wine tasting rooms large and small, brand new and decades old. Although variety is abundant, one constant remains: the Lodi wine experience. Visitors to Lodi wineries will often find themselves sipping Lodi wine with a fourth-or-fifth generation winemaker, who is passionate about his product.
It is hard to talk about Lodi wineries without talking history. Lodi has been growing wine grapes since the mid-1800s and today is the largest appellation in California with over 190,000 acres in production. Known for hearty Zinfandels, Lodi is also home to all of California’s leading varieties, and has long been the leading producer for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Today Lodi has over 100 varieties in production and offers a vast portfolio of diverse wines. Interestingly, many of the big producers in Napa and Sonoma are buying Lodi grapes for their wines.
The Zinfandels in Lodi run the gamut, from big, juicy, concentrated fruit bombs to the more minimalist winemaking practices, beginning with native yeast fermentation and use of no new oak. We found the focus with each winemaker is on the taste of vineyards rather than varietal character or brand.
With only a few days to devout to tasting, we only visited 5 wineries but truly enjoyed each of them for the art of what they are doing. We had a intimate experience at every winery we visited and the tasting room staff/winemakers were incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their wines. Klinker Brick, McCay Cellars, LVVR Sparking Wines, M2 and St Jorge were all equally compelling, individual and well made wines.
Because of our over abundant supply of wine on the Road House we only added 9 more bottles to the on board cellar, very restraint. Next year we will definitely stay longer and leave Portland with a smaller stash of wine on board.
Lodi is also a great place to eat and there is no shortage of great dining options. We had a crazy good lunch at a local BBQ place (no texas cobb salad Barb) called the Tin Roof BBQ. I knew this was a good place when we pulled up, the lot was full and the smokers were running at full steam. I love giving a shout out to a family-owned restaurant whose food is delicious and guaranteed to fill your stomach without emptying your pockets!
Great wine and food…my kind of place, we will see you again next year Lodi!!!