Waking up at Wine and Roses wasn't difficult, and opening the curtains to the beautiful landscape was a great way to start the day. Though it was still dark, I was raring to go, so I walked down the road to Lodi Lake Park and watched the sunrise there. Heading back, I found most of the other writers ready for breakfast at the Towne House Restaurant.
Having eaten, it was time to meet our guide, Randy Caparoso, at the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center and after introductions, we departed for Marian’s Vineyard at the Mohr-Fry Ranches. There we met up with winegrower Bruce Fry and winemaker Stuart Spencer, St.Amant Winery. After hearing the history of the vineyard, we broke out the wine glasses and had a taste of the wines made in that very vineyard. That set the tone for the whole trip: history, family stories, and drinking wines in the very fields where they had been birthed - it's a great way to be immersed in an area, but not easy to take notes. I decided to lose myself in the moments and not worry about facts, figures, or tasting notes, but rather enjoy the amazing experience I found myself part of.
Up next was a walk in the Soucie Vineyard with winegrower Kevin Soucie, who is meticulous as a grower and it shows, even in the vines planted as far back as 1916. A fifth-generation farmer, Kevin explained how these own-rooted and head trained Zinfandel vines enjoyed the Devries sandy loam and benefited from the Delta's cooling breezes, resulting in Zinfandel wines that are lush and earthy. To drive home the point, winemaker Layne Montgomery of m2 Wines poured us glasses to taste.
Not far away sits Wegat Vineyard, where we met winegrower Todd Maley, winemakers Chad Joseph, Layne Montgomery, and Tim Holdener. Planted in fine sandy loam by the Maley family in 1958, this 21-acre vineyard's head trained vines, field budded on St. George rootstock, produce a Zinfandel wine that is more dark fruit and round mouthfeel. Truly special to taste a variety of wines from this vineyard.
It was time for lunch and paella awaited us at m2 Wines. After a quick tour of the tasting room and cellar, it was time to eat, along with an educational tasting of the Lodi Native Zinfandels. If you're not familiar with the Lodi Native project, it is a must-taste for any Zinfandel or terroir lover. In a nutshell, the Lodi Native Project focuses on specific old growth vineyards, with native yeast fermentation and minimal intervention by the participating winemakers. This process results in a glorious showcasing of what the vineyards are actually producing and emphatically demonstrates how much there is to Zinfandel's range. Side by side, it's sometimes surprising that each bottle is Zinfandel, though some commonality of course remains.
One the most destination-worthy wineries in Lodi to visit is Oak Farm Vineyards. It appears that money was almost no object in creating a place that represents the future of Lodi as a wine travel objective. Beautiful cellars, an amazing tasting room and lush vineyards make this an enviable lifestyle that so many of us aspire to. Tasting in barrel and then the finished products shows how much faith the owners and winemaker have in the quality of the grapes. After many, many samples, it was both are to leave but also time, as the long day began to slow us down.
To decompress, Snooth took us to dinner at Pietro’s Trattoria - rather than ordering from the menu, we asked the chef to just bring us a meal of their devising. Seeing the copious bottles we had along from the days' tastings, the staff eagerly brought us plate after plate of amazing food that complemented the wine in every way. Post-dinner, some planned to meet up for a drink at the hotel's bar, but for this tuckered wino, it was time to head to bed for much-needed rest.
(*This media trip was provided courtesy of Snooth and Lodi Wine - all opinions expressed are my own.)
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