The Lowdown on Lodi
As the largest producer of wine grapes in the country, Lodi is emerging as the next oenophile destination to watch.
Harney Lane Winery
A DELTA JOURNEY
Skip the clogged I-580, I-5, and Highway 99, and take a scenic trip through the Delta. Follow California State Route 160 north to Route 12 east, cutting across the San Joaquin River to a sequence of small islands, where you’ll have the opportunity to spot egrets, kayakers, and even rainbows. You’ll also pass strawberry fields, cherry and olive trees, and almond ranches before getting to the grapevines—bucolic reminders of California’s rich farming history.
THE ANCIENT VINES
German and Italian immigrants in the mid-19th century discovered that warm daytime temperatures, combined with cool evening breezes from the Bay and Delta, created ideal conditions for growing Zinfandel and Alicante grapes. By 1986, Lodi had earned recognition as an American Viticultural Area, which led to increased profits for the area’s growers. Many vineyards are run by fourth- and fifth-generation families—including Harney Lane Winery, Mettler Family Vineyards, and LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards—and several Napa and Sonoma wineries use grapes from Lodi. harneylane.com, mettlerwine.com, langetwins.com.
Lunch choices abound in downtown Lodi, where you’ll find humble cafés mixed in with wine-tasting rooms. (Good bets include Cellar Door, featuring wines from Michael David and Van Ruiten Family Wineries, and Lodi’s Wine Social, pouring samples from Six Hands and Sorelle Wineries.) Or take advantage of the expansive scenery at many Lodi vineyards and make a picnic out of your midday break. Pick up provisions—along with local olive oil, craft beer, and cookbooks—at Cheese Central, a gourmet shop offering more than 80 cheeses. lodicellardoor.com, lodiwinesocial.com, cheesecentrallodi.com.
WINE AWAY THE DAY
With more than 85 wineries in the region, you could easily spend a week touring and tasting. A few not to miss: Bokisch Vineyards produces crisp and clean Albariños; Klinker Brick features a lovely courtyard for trying old-vine Zinfandels; and Oak Farm Vineyards offers elegant indoor and patio seating. bokischvineyards.com, klinkerbrickwinery.com, oakfarmvineyards.com.
A LUXURIOUS RETREAT
The premier place to stay in Lodi, Wine and Roses is a tasteful property with twinkling lights framing a lush garden. It’s also home to Towne House Restaurant, overseen by culinary director and two-time James Beard Award winner Bradley Ogden. Bay Area folks will recognize Ogden’s penchant for fresh ingredients- from his previous tenures as head chef at San Francisco’s One Market and Lafayette’s Yankee Pier. After indulging in Sunday brunch, get a massage at the hotel’s spa, shop at The Nest boutique, or go wine tasting at the neighboring Lodi Wine and Visitor Center. Rooms start at $259 per night, winerose.com.