If you're familiar with the Northern California cities, you've likely heard of Lodi, California and associate it with a 'farm town' where there's nothing to do. While you're half way right, because there's not much to do, there is actually a great collection of amazing wineries in the area.
Download this city guide (with GPS maps) on your smartphone here to have it handy for your trip!
Last weekend, I headed to Lodi to celebrate my friend Jessica's bachelorette and do some wine tasting, and it was fun to explore a wine country thats something different than Napa or Sonoma, where we always go. We stayed in one of the coolest houses I've stayed in. It was basically a resort - located on a vineyard surrounded by rows and rows of vines as well as equipped with a bocce court, pool, hot tub, tennis court, guest house, etc, and the decor inside was so perfect. Lodi's Wine Trail also will help you avoid the high tasting and lodging fees at the tourist inflated wineries in Napa and Sonoma.
It's about a 2 hour drive from San Francisco, so next time you're looking for a quick getaway and want to check out somewhere different, give it a shot. If you don't believe me, check out this article if you're a true wine lover: 5 Reasons Why Lodi is the Next Napa Valley. Ok, the title of that article is extremely aggressive, but it's an interesting read nonetheless.
We went to four wineries on Saturday - Fields Family Winery, Durst Winery, Lange Twins, and Stama Winery. We used Sip Shuttle to get around for the day. The owner, Taylor, came along for the ride and made our day one of the most seamless wine tasting experiences with a big group I'd ever had. She herded the masses and got us all on the bus and to the wineries on schedule, as well as brought us waters, wrote our names on and handled the bottles of wine we each purchased, did a raffle giveaway, was our DJ, and offered us lots of fun facts about the Lodi Wine Trail's history. She made the day run so smoothly.
Field Family Winery has won both national and international awards, as well as Winery of the Year this year. It's a very small winery run by four people. I think we overwhelmed our tasting guide here with the size and volume of our squad, but he warmed up to us after awhile. He walked us through his how-to-wine-taste in five easy steps: smell, swirl, smell again, sip and swish. Yes, he taught us how to gargle the wine to bring out the flavors. There were definitely a few mishaps in the learning process.
Durst Winery, not affiliated with Robert Durst's family - from The Jinx' (yes, I actually asked) - is the cutest property that we went to. I'd seen it featured on a few blogs prior to us going there, and it lived up to it's charm! The tasting room is literally in the backyard of the owner/winemaker's, Cassandra and Dan Durst's, house. Cassandra showed us around the property and told us about it's history prior to our tasting. We loved the cute patio with lots of picnic tables and grassy areas to roam in - great for families with children or pups! My absolute favorite wine here was their Pinot Noir. I'm normally a Zin or Cab girl, but this Pinot was amazing; had to buy it!
Lange Twins was another cool winery we stopped at. They had live music while we were here and we got to dance to Taylor Swift covers during our tasting. T. Swift and wine - with a big group of girls, there's not much that could have made us happier than that! Lange Twins has a really cool tasting room as well as an area to host private events in the back (pictured below).
Our final stop was Stama Winery, where our hostesses were so sweet. Having to deal with us on our 4th stop was a task in itself, but they are probably used to that! The grounds at Stama are absolutely beautiful. The tasting room itself has a Spanish style look to it, with floor-to-ceiling length wooden doors that were an awesome design touch! The wine here was great too.
Lodi has over 100,000 acres of vineyards and over 80 vineyards and wineries. Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in California (my favorite vine!), some dating back to the Gold Rush in 1849. Prior to becoming and an up-and-coming trendy wine country to visit, Lodi was selling 85% of it's grapes to other regions. In an attempt to capitalize on the overpopulation in Napa and Sonoma, Lodi decided to start using it's own grapes - wineries have began making their own wines and opening tasting rooms. Here's one more fun fact: Lodi produces 18% of California's wine, compared to Napa's 4%. Interestingly enough, I heard on this trip that 70% of Napa and Sonoma's wine is made from Lodi grown grapes. Who knew?! If you're a wine lover, get ahead of the trend and check out Lodi before it comes the next #basic thing to do every weekend!
Next, check out my Calistoga & St. Helena travel guide!