Wine Institute Series Offers Tips on How to Sip, Stay and Play in Wine Country
SAN FRANCISCO—California’s many scenic wine regions offer an array of experiences and wines to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trip series highlights a different region each month. For February, visitors are invited to discover Lodi, California.
Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California, many dating back to the Gold Rush of 1849. Lodi’s wine industry continued to flourish through Prohibition, thanks to farmers who maintained their crops for legally sanctioned “home winemaking.” Today, Lodi is Wine Enthusiast’s2015 Wine Region of the Year and a leading producer of California’s top varieties. However, with over 100 varieties now in production, Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse and interesting wines, all of which thrive in the region’s Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool nights.
Wine consumers can reach Lodi by driving 45 minutes south of Sacramento or two hours northeast of San Francisco. Here are recommendations for enjoying Lodi Wine Country:
SIP: Visitors can choose among nearly 80 wineries in Lodi. Check out this printable map or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase and more. A great way to start a Lodi wine road trip is to visit the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, which offers a tasting bar with a wide selection of local wines, an educational demonstration vineyard and a gift shop with handcrafted products. One can then set out to wine country from there.
STAY: The destination offers various accommodations for every budget, from charming B&Bs and hotels to motels and vacation homes – all located close to the historic downtown and area wineries.
PLAY: The Lodi Wine & Food Festival on April 2 is offering wine tasting and pairings, dishes from 15 local restaurants, olive oil tasting and the chance to meet the winemakers. The 12th annual Zinfest May 13-15 at Lodi Lake is a tasting of handcrafted Zinfandels and other wines from over 40 wineries, along with cooking and wine education classes. Celebrate the harvest with the Lodi Grape Festival on Sept. 15-18, featuring murals and competitive exhibits, carnival experiences, wine and food tastings and more
Surrounding Lodi wine country are thousands of acres of nature preserves—a river-rich basin and marshes that sustain hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish. The Cosumnes River Preserve is a favorite among visitors and offers year-round hiking trails and an educational visitor center. Lodi Wine & River Tours lets guests glide down the beautiful Mokelumne River while sipping local wines and looking for wildlife. For those who’d rather stay on land, Lodi features a variety of zoos and museums, golfing, galleries and quaint downtown shopping.
MAKE: Those who like to get hands-on can take part in a variety of classes from art to cheese-making. The Lodi Community Art Center features art classes for adults and teens, while the Mudd Mill offers pottery painting classes for the family. Cheese Central designed its workshops for those who consider food a work of art, with instruction on how to make cheese, bread, pastas and more.
GROW: Closely identified with Zinfandel, Lodi is predominately a red winegrowing region, with approximately two-thirds of Lodi’s winegrape acreage dedicated to red varieties. Lodi’s winegrowers created the Lodi RulesTM program, which awards third-party certification for sustainable winegrowing practices to ensure green claims for vineyards are accurate and substantiated. And more than grapes grow in Lodi: each summer the Lodi Farmers Market takes place on Sundays, offering a cornucopia of fresh produce as well as baked goods, crafts, food vendors and live entertainment.
EAT: Lodi winery dinners and farm-to-fork experiences are abundant. Lodi restaurants offer visitors an abundance of dining options, from American to ethnic fusion menus.
For more fun facts about Lodi click here.
Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 137 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries. See: wineinstitute.org.