Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This is NOT Your Father's Lodi

At the end of September, six wine writers were invited by Snooth and Lodi Wine on a Media Trip to visit the region and see it in person. I've been enjoying Lodi wines for quite some time, but this was my first visit to the area. To be honest, I thought of the area as less destination than a place that made some seriously good wine. It just didn't have an image I could visualize in my mind. Five days there have me certain that Lodi is about to take its rightful place as a wine destination that is on every one's lips.

This is NOT Your Father's Lodi

A generation ago, Lodi was a practically unknown agricultural area among wine people (if it was known at all), maybe as a place to get Zinfandel and Flame Tokay grapes. Wineries were not common, as wine cooperatives were more the norm. However, with the growing improvement in American winedrinkers' palates, Lodi began planting more popular varietals and began selling them to wineries across the state and the entire U.S. It's not all Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay though - for me, one of the great things about Lodi wine is the incredible diversity - over 100 diverse varietals from around the world are made into wines that will expand your wine horizons like no other region can.

This is NOT Your Father's Lodi
(Images courtesy of the Lodi Winegrape Commission)

Things began to change, albeit slowly, in the mid 80's, when Lodi was approved as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). Consumers became aware that much of their favorite wines had roots in Lodi. Slowly, the area began its transition from grape producer to a wine destination. More wineries started vinifying the grapes and labeling them with the Lodi AVA. The ten or so existing wineries were somewhat alone, but not for long -- there are now over 85 wineries. And they are clearly doing something right - Lodi was named 2015 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

This is NOT Your Father's Lodi

Approximately 100,000 acres of premium grapes are spread across over 550,000 acres of land, and it soon became clear that the Lodi AVA was insufficient to give credit to the variety of soils and climates that existed across it. After research to show the distinct differences, the Lodi Appellation was further subdivided into 7 new sub-AVAs in 2006. The names of the sub-AVAs are Alta Mesa, Borden Ranch, Clements Hills, Cosumnes River, Jahant, Mokelumne River and Sloughhouse. We got to visit and taste wines in about half of the sub-AVAs, so there is a lot more to explore on a return trip.

This is NOT Your Father's Lodi

One thing that hasn't changed that much, however, are the deep roots that many families have in Lodi. 4 or 5 generations of a family farming the land is not uncommon, and intermarriage has meant that many of them are related in one way or another. While I'm sure there are squabbles, one of the things I've most enjoyed over the years (and now reinforced in person) is how friendly and supportive the growers and makers are of each other. It is often said that a rising tide lifts all boats, and the Lodi wine community certainly takes it to heart.

This is NOT Your Father's Lodi

I'm very grateful to Snooth and Lodi Wine for sponsoring this trip, it was truly a memorable experience. Watching the region grow and burnish its reputation is something that will be exciting and gratifying to see.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wine and Roses, Lodi, California Hotel Review

At the end of September, a group of wine writers (including me) were invited by Snooth to visit Lodi Wine country. It was an opportunity to see the tremendous growth Lodi has made as a wine destination, not just as a region for growing grapes. The Lodi Winegrape Commission put us up at Wine and Roses - it abuts the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center and is also a great representation of what visitors will have in store as the region matures. We arrived on Sunday and left on Thursday, so, even though our days were spent visiting vineyards and wineries, plenty of time was spent at this resort for meals and rest time. I personally never found the time or energy to utilize the fitness center or swimming pool, a serious oversight with the amount of food and wine ingested (fitness center) and the temperatures approaching a 100 degrees Fahrenheit (swimming pool). Overall I was very impressed with the resort and would definitely recommend a stay there with some caveats.

Wine and Roses, Lodi, California Hotel Review
Amenities: Wine and Roses is a Preferred Hotels and Resorts member, which represents a diverse global portfolio of independent hotels and independent hotel experiences. Amenities at Wine and Roses include the hotel itself, The Spa, an onsite restaurant, fitness center, outdoor pool, and both outdoor and indoor spaces for business meetings, weddings and other events.
Staff: Hotel staff were pleasant and friendly without being obsequious. Grounds staff and housekeeping kept a low profile but appeared to be busy at all times - clean rooms and attractive landscaping attest to that. Service in the restaurant was a bit slow during breakfast, but a special welcome dinner put on for us by the Lodi Winegrape Commission could not have run more smoothly.
Wine and Roses, Lodi, California Hotel Review
Room: I enjoyed a King Room with fireplace: king size bed, gas fireplace, work desk areas, a television, refrigerator, coffee station, fully stocked honor bar, and a full bathroom with a tiled shower-bath tub combination. These rooms also have French doors leading out to either a balcony or veranda. The room was very comfortable and kept clean by the housekeeping staff. I was on the ground floor and could hear both my neighbors to the side as wells above, so I would suggest reserving an upstairs room. There are a variety of other room types available, including a limited number of pet-friendly rooms available with advance notice and a pet deposit.
Location: Wine and Roses is in the Northwest corner of the city of Lodi, with easy access to the quaint downtown and freeway. If you are a walker, Lodi Lake Park, with an adjoining Wilderness, are within walking distance and well worth a visit.
Restaurant: The Towne House is onsite, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and a brunch and dinner on weekends. Breakfast featured a good selection from a menu that is seasonal and changes often and was, for the most part, very good. For our welcome dinner, we chose from the dinner menu and all options were excellent. The culinary team is made up of John Hitchcock, Executive Chef, Danica Aviles, Chef de Cuisine, Dawnelle O’Brian, Pastry Chef, and Brett Urias, Banquet Chef - they seem to be doing a great job with the bounty that surrounds them.
Wine and Roses, Lodi, California Hotel Review

Wine and Roses is a great place to stay if you are visiting Lodi or even if you just want to stay at this self-contained resort. With its beautiful landscaping, terrific restaurant, and other amenities that appear of a high standard, I'd be happy to come back for a return visit.

*This stay was provided to me courtesy of the Lodi Winegrape Commission - all opinions are my own.

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