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Lodi, California, Re-Discover Wine Country - Introduction

Dr. Stephanie Bolton Lodi Winegrape Commission with Borra Vineyards Winemaker Markus Niggli. 

There is another California wine country destination worth discovering. It is not over-priced, it is not crowded and it is full of local charm and flavors. This is your opportunity to experience small town California wine country before everyone else.

Markus Bokisch, Bokisch Vineyards.

With a long history of winemaking, Lodi, California is changing. Lodi has decided to return to its roots and to embrace a new future. Yes, you will find honest, local wines reflecting terroir and hard labor. Additionally, you will discover true gems and inspirational winemaking. There is a push towards sustainability and “natural wine making.” Change is afoot in Lodi. And I'm talking about more than just Zinfandel!
“My favorite Lodi wines were Cinsault, Albarino, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Viognier, Kerner, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Tempranillo, Barbera, Sangiovese and some of those Old Vine Zinfandels too.”
Abba Vineyard Syrah, Scott Henry Trellising.

Exploring Lodi wine country is like discovering buried treasure. Originally planted to vineyards in the 1880’s, for years Lodi wine grapes have been sold exclusively to the biggest California producers. Lodi still provides 20% of the wine grapes grown in California, but today you will find there are 80+ small producers, working hard to showcase the once lost Lodi terroir.

Barbera tasting with Uvaggio, St. Amant Winery, Oak Farm Vineyards, Macchia Wines, and Jeremy Wine Company.

The history and grape growers of Lodi go back up to six generations. Italian and German immigrants settled in the area in the 1800’s. Some of the old vine Zinfandels used to make wine are over 100 years old. There is even an “Old Vine Zin” certification program. (Zinfandel was popular so that is what was originally planted, and the reason it is “the” old vine grape variety, and on original rootstock.)

This newer generation of winemakers is determined to show the beauty of the Lodi AVA and its distinct terroir. A terroir once blended away and lost to bulk wine.

Jerry Fry, Mohr-Fry Ranches, 1901 old vine Zinfandel.

As I learned, Lodi wines can be captivating, nuanced, brash and diverse. Lodi is changing. Even the locals admit they are experimenting with grape varieties and sustainable farming practices. With the determined push to the new exciting future, the past is still cherished. Though dwindling in number, there are still old and ancient vineyards planted in the 1880’s to early 1900's. They are a treasured part of Lodi and California history and they are still producing fruit for wine.

David Phillips, owner Michael David Winery.

I went to Lodi, California wide open, suppressing my prejudices, expectant and yet reserved. It was a memorable visit. I learned a great deal. The history of this wine region, the families and local flavors, and how a small agricultural community is inviting you and me to visit.

2016 Harvest Petite Syrah at Phillip's Farm, Jahant AVA.

“Lodi is easy to navigate, all the roads are at right angles. You won't get lost and there are no crowds. You will find new friends and room to breathe. The sky is so clear, you can see the stars at night in Lodi.”
Dining alfresco with wine friends. 

For me, Lodi represents that romantic, small town wine country destination. Surprisingly off the radar, now is your opportunity to discover and enjoy Lodi before the crowds. It is in that sweet spot for people looking for an affordable, local wine country experience. And for the oenophile, Lodi wines are a treasure.

Tasting at Victor Triangle Vineyards.

Dust off your boots, put on a comfortable pair of jeans and don’t forget your hat. Time to plan your next vacation, Lodi wine country is waiting for you.


  • City of Lodi Population 64,000.
  • City of Sacramento is one hour away, population 800,000.
  • City of San Francisco is 100 miles away. 
  • Oldest continuously used Lodi old vine Zinfandel was planted in 1886. 
  • Robert Mondavi lived in Lodi and attended Lodi High School. 
  • Lodi region has 7 AVA's. 
  • Lodi region has 100,000 acres planted to vine.
  • Today there are over 85 wineries in Lodi. 
  • The Lodi AVA (Crush District 11) has one of the highest planted acreages of any AVA, with a unique profile where new vineyard plantings exist alongside century-old vines, soil types range from sandy loam to volcanic terrain, and just about every trellising system invented is being used.
  • Lodi Winegrape Commission -
    The Commission represents 750 winegrowers farming over 100,000 acres of winegrapes. It is moving the Lodi region forward as a high quality, environmentally and socially conscious production area.
  • Lodi Wine Commission -
    Wonderful resource for planning your next trip to Lodi Wine Country. They even have a wine club you can join. One of the better wine industry sites.
  • Randy Caparoso is the multi-award-winning sommelier/restaurateur and longtime wine journalist who pens the blog for the Lodi Winegrape Commission. He was our invaluable guide and Lodi expert. A true treasure. 
  • Many thanks to who invited me to attend this visit to Lodi wine country! An exceptional tour of Lodi vineyards and wines. I am a fan.

My next post will be about many of the Lodi wines I tasted. My favorites will be emphasized.


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