Do you realize what a wonderful place Lodi is for wine tasting? We’re not just talking about Zinfandel: Lodi also produces many impressive white wines. In fact, Lodi grows more than 100 varietals. On some recent Lodi wine tasting trips we discovered outstanding Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Grenache Blanc, Moscato, Picpoul Blanc, Roussanne, Symphony, Verdejo, Verdelho, and Vermentino. We expect to return many times to Acquiesce Winery and Bokisch Vineyards, and we found a delightful white wine blend from Markus Wine Company featuring the Kerner grape.
On the red wine side, our Lodi wine tasting efforts revealed tasty Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Cinsault, Grenache, Graciano, Nero d’Avola, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, and Touriga wines. Our favorite California wineries now include Borra Vineyards, Fields Family Wines, Michael David Winery and Oak Farm Vineyards. We enjoyed delicious port wines at St. Amant Winery and our favorite Zinfandel was at McCay Cellars. We also tasted wines crafted from the Souzáo grape for the first time at St. Jorge Winery and discovered we liked that varietal.
In addition to great wines, Lodi also has plenty of food destinations for a variety of moods. If you’re looking for fast and easy, the first frosty mug of A&W Root Beer was served here in Lodi in 1919 and the restaurant on Lodi Avenue is still serving up Papa Burgers, Fries and Root Beer Floats. If a relaxing Brunch on an outdoor patio is more your speed, the Towne House Restaurant features premium wines, specialty cocktails, and dishes such as Banana Stuffed French Toast, Loco Moco or a Smoked Salmon Scramble. You can also find delicious Scones, Salads and Sandwiches in the area.
Keep reading and we’ll tell you about some of our favorite places you may want to explore on your own. For additional information, seek out the Visit Lodi! Visitor Center to read about the Lodi Wine Appellation and its 7 sub-appellations, view a historic postcard collection, and take a step back in time with the A&W Root Beer Mug collection. Visitor Guides and other helpful information can be found at the Visitor Center for free. open 10 am to 5 pm Tues – Fri, 10 am to 4:30 pm Sat, 25 North School Street, Lodi, 800-798-1810.
If you haven’t been wine tasting in Lodi lately, we strongly suggest you change that.
Lodi Wine Tasting – Our Favorite Wineries
Although there are about 90 wineries in the Lodi area, and we haven’t visited every one of them yet, we’ve already identified about a dozen to recommend. When planning your Lodi wine tasting trip, please check for operations hours as many tasting rooms are not open every day of the week:
Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards – Acquiesce’s Sue Tipton and her husband Rodney focus on wines made from Southern Rhône varietals, with grapevines actually sourced from the famed Château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf du Pape. Heck, the Timptons even import the wine bottles from Southern France. The tasting room is in a century-old barn surrounded by 18 acres of vineyards and many tastings include pairings of the wines with small bites. Our favorite wines recently were the 2016 Grenache Rosé, 2016 Picpoul Blanc, 2014 Roussanne, and the 2015 Belle Blanc (Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier). 22353 N. Tretheway Road, Acampo (209) 333-6102
Bokisch Vineyards – Markus and Liz Bokisch have been producing hand-crafted, award-winning, Spanish varietal wines since 2000 at their family owned and sustainably farmed winery. You’ll be impressed at how many different varietals winemaker Elyse Perry can craft into impressive premium wines. If you visit, consider bringing a picnic lunch so you can sit out back and enjoy a beautiful view of the rolling hills of Terra Alta Vineyard. Recent favorites include the 2015 Terra Alta Albariño, 2015 Verdejo, 2015 Verdelho, 2014 Garnacha, 2014 Tempranillo and 2014 Graciano. 18921 Atkins Road, Lodi (209) 334-4338
Borra Vineyards – Steve Borra started Lodi’s first bonded boutique winery behind a backyard shack in 1975 and the cozy tasting room is surrounded by vines and the homes for three generations of Borras. Open to the public only one weekend per month, or by appointment, our favorite Borra wine was the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Markus Niggli also crafts wines under his own label, Markus Wine Company, and we highly enjoyed his 2015 Markus Joey Insieme (Torrontes, Traminette) and 2016 Nimmo (Kerner, Riesling, Bacchus, Gewürztraminer). 1301 East Armstrong Road, Lodi (209) 368-2446
Fields Family Wines – If you want to see what a very small family winery looks like, come here where the total production is still under 2000 cases per year. All under one roof you’ll see wine barrels, the tasting bar, the grape sorter, the pump, and maybe even a forklift. Our favorite wines here were the 2016 Vermentino, 2013 “Big Red” (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Barbera) and 2014 Cinsault. 3803 East Woodbridge Road, Acampo (209) 327-6306
Jeremy Wine Co. – Owners Jeremy and Choral Trettevik oversee our favorite downtown tasting room, featuring friendly staff and a back patio with tables and chairs for relaxation and/or picnicking. In past incarnations, the tasting room was a bank and Mr. Trettevik’s former work studio. The winery has a popular growler program framed around “Jeremiah’s Jug”, a blend of Tempranillo, Zinfandel and Marzemino, but our favorite wine here was a 2016 Albariño. 6 West Pine Street, Lodi (209) 367-3773
LangeTwins Winery & Vineyards– Yes, there are actually twins in charge here: Randall and Brad Lange, 4th generation farmers who are now starting to get help from 5th generation family members in the business. They make about 25,000 cases of wines per year themselves but also do a lot of business providing growing, crafting and bottling services to other wineries. Our favorites here were the 2016 Moscato, 2015 Gewürztraminer, 2014 Nero d’Avola and 2014 Petite Sirah. We also enjoyed the MVP, a non-vintage multiple varietal port made from Tannat, Teroldego and Zinfandel grapes. 1525 East Jahant Road, Acampo (209) 334-9780
McCay Cellars – Michael McCay and his family have farmed in Lodi for over 20 years and the wide range of wines here are primarily Rhône varietals or Zinfandels. The tasting room also contains a fridge offering wines, salumi, cheeses, olives and peppers for sale to help with your snacking needs. We recently enjoyed (a lot) the 2014 Très Blanc (Vermentino, Verdelho, Muscat, Pinot Noir), 2016 Chenin Blanc, 2016 Grenache Blanc, 2012 Carignane and 2013 “Lot 13” Faith Zinfandel. 1370 East Turner Road, Lodi (209) 368-WINE
Michael David Winery – Have you tasted wine made from the Symphony grape? That’s a varietal patented by Dr. Harold Olmo at UC Davis in 1983, a hybrid between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris producing a highly aromatic, slightly sweet wine. We really enjoyed the 2016 Symphony here, as well as the 2015 Incognito Rouge (Tannat, Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignane, Mourvedre), 2015 Michael David AV Cinsault, 2014 Michael David Carignane and 2014 Inkblot Petit Verdot. The property here has a lovely outdoor area and a brand new Tasting Room to enjoy. 4580 West Highway 12, Lodi (209) 368-7384
Oak Farm Vineyards – This estate dates back to the 1860s when it was formerly a cattle ranch. During a recent remodel, the owner insisted on the result having room for about 100 people to be able to sit for their tastings so come here to relax and savor your tastes. The property and buildings are just flat-out gorgeous and the focus is clearly on well-made, small lot wines. Our favorites here include the 2016 Albariño, 2015 The Corset (Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Zinfandel), and 2014 Petit Verdot. 23627 North DeVries Road, Lodi (209) 365-6565
Peltier Winery – Rodney and Gayla Shatz are third generation grape growers in charge of this innovative winery and custom crush facility. Grandparents on both sides of the family were growers in the 1950’s and the family now farms over 1,200 acres of wine grapes. The Peltier wines are made from grapes grown in their sustainably farmed, certified green, estate vineyards. Our favorites here were a 2014 Black Diamond Vermentino, 2011 Peltier Teroldego Reserve, and 2011 Peltier Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. 22150 North Kennefick Road, Acampo (209) 367-4882
St. Amant Winery – Founded in 1979 by Tim and Barbara Spencer, St. Amant prides itself on producing handcrafted, food-friendly wines of superb quality from Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian varietals as well as California’s own Zinfandel. They even make 4 different port wines. The winery name comes from Ms. Spencer’s maiden name, and finding the tasting room may be a challenge but it’s well worth it (yes, keep going north on Guild past Turner and then make an immediate right). Our favorites here were the 2016 Verdelho, 2015 Vintage Port, and 2015 Touriga. 1 Winemaster Way, Lodi (209) 367-0646
St. Jorge Winery – This charming winery focuses on Portuguese varietals and some tastes are accompanied by small bites artfully selected to pair well with the wines, such as the 2014 Verdelho and a Topo cheese imported from the island of San Jorge in Portugal. Our favorites here were the 2014 Verdelho, 2013 Tempranillo, 2014 Souzáo, 2011 Vinho Tinto Doce (Port-style Wine) and 2011 Maria (Madera). The winery is also in the middle of an ambitious expansion effort which should be gorgeous when done. 22769 North Bender Road, Acampo (209) 365-0202
Scotto’s Wine & Cider – The Scotto family are 5th generation winemakers who operate wineries in Lodi, Amador County and Napa Valley. They recently opened a tasting room in downtown Lodi that offers samples of their wines and ciders by the glass or in flights. We haven’t tasted their wines yet, but can definitely recommend their hard apple ciders. Our favorites were their Dry Apple, Dry Apple with Pinot Grigio and Dry Apple with Wild Cherry. 14 South School Street, Lodi (209) 224-8590
There’s also an interesting collaboration taking place in Lodi called the Lodi Native™ project spotlighting the region’s heritage Zinfandel plantings, some dating back to the 1800s. Six winemakers have committed to strict winemaking protocols to craft wines that reflect the characteristics of a single vineyard. These protocols include native yeast fermentation, no new oak, and no filtering or fining. The first vintage of Lodi Native™ Zinfandels was in 2012 and for the most recent 2014 release, winemakers at Fields Family Wines, m2 Wines, Macchia Wines, Maley Brothers, McCay Cellars, and St. Amant Winery worked to demonstrate that distinguished, distinctly identifiable vineyards exist in the Lodi AVA.
The Lodi Wine and Visitors Center (2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, 209-365-0621) is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily and can offer additional assistance with the area and its 90 wineries (with about 110,000 acres of vineyards). The Center has an expansive tasting bar featuring regional wines, a demonstration vineyard which can provide education about grape growing and a gift shop featuring handcrafted products and Lodi giftware. You can also purchase a six-bottle collection of the 2014 Lodi Native™ wines here.
Lodi Wine Tasting – Favorite Restaurants
We’ve had a lot of great food in Lodi, and our favorite restaurants (so far) are below. If you keep reading, we also list other impressive food purveyors including a food truck and a fromagerie to explore during your own Lodi wine tasting adventures.
Avenue Grill – This old-school diner is crowded with locals who have been coming here for years. They are open for Breakfast and Lunch only, but if you’re interested they serve their Breakfast items all day. Offerings include Eggs, Hot Cakes, French Toast, Omelets, Biscuits and Gravy, and a Breakfast Quesadilla. We’ve happily enjoyed the Hot Cakes and the large, fluffy omelets. 506 West Lodi Avenue, Lodi (209) 333-8006
A&W– The first A&W Root Beer was served on June 4, 1919, at a homecoming parade for Lodi’s returning WWI soldiers. The East Lodi Avenue store opened in 1954, and in June 1999 store employees joined forces with other community members to create the world’s largest Root Beer Float (using 2,562.5 gallons of root beer). Burgers, Chicken Strips, Hot Dogs, Corn Dogs, Fries, Onion Rings, and freshly made Root Beer are all ready for you here. 216 East Lodi Avenue, Lodi (209) 368-8548 (commemorative plaque is at 13 West Pine Street, downtown)
Corner Scone Bakery – A Mother/Daughter team, Terrie Green and Tara Miller, are making delicious scones, muffins, pies, and other treats in a cute and cozy bakery. Menu items have included Cinnamon Rolls, Morning Glory Muffins, Blueberry Bran Muffins, Bacon Egg and Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich, Buttermilk Spice Coffee Cake, Southwestern Quiche and Quiche Lorraine. Their popular Scones include Chocolate Chip, Lemon Poppyseed, Mixed Berry, and there’s even a Maple Bacon version. If you’re interested, Corner Scone also offers a “High Tea” experience on Saturdays at their nearby The Hidden Tea Room. 322 North California Street, (209) 747-3418 – closed on Sundays and Mondays so plan accordingly.
Dancing Fox Winery, Brewery, Bakery & Restaurant – This busy establishment is run by Greg Lewis, his wife and three sons and if they weren’t busy enough they have plans to add a distillery to their portfolio. When the children were young, Mr. Lewis would entertain them by making up stories about the foxes on their property including a dancing one so that’s where the name comes from. You’ll find plenty of large salads on the menu including a Greek Salad, a Cranberry Walnut Salad, and our personal favorite: the Mandarin Almond Salad with Poppy Seed Vinaigrette. The wood fire pizza oven (from Barcelona) is constantly busy turning out restaurant specials or whatever custom assembly you design to top your own pie. The kitchen also offers a variety of Burgers, Sandwiches and Home Made Sausages. 203 South School Street, Lodi (209) 366-2634
Farm Café at Michael David Winery – Michael and David Phillips are brothers whose family has farmed fruits and vegetables in the Lodi region since the 1850s. On the same property as their namesake winery, the Farm Café is a popular destination for farm-style breakfasts and lunches. The breakfast menu offers generous portions of the usual suspects: Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Omelets, Oatmeal, Eggs Benedict, Biscuits and Gravy and Chicken and Waffles. You can also buy baked goods or other food products in the store to take home with you. 580 West Highway 12, Lodi (209) 368-7384
Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe and Deli – Joe and Barbara Fiori founded this place in 1983 so they’ve been serving the community for over 30 years. Back then, Joe cured his own pastrami and corned beef, smoked salmon and home-made bratwurst, and that tradition continues. The extensive sandwich menu here is rounded out with soups and chili, fresh salads and a daily changing selection of quiches. You can also place your order in advance for either inside pick-up or curbside pick-up (just remember they’re closed Sundays and Mondays). 400 West Lodi Avenue, Lodi (209) 334-4121 for inside pickup, (209) 334-0333 for curbside.
Towne House Restaurant (at Wine & Roses Hotel) – Led by Executive Chef John Hitchcock, the Towne House culinary team utilizes fresh and seasonal ingredients from local and regional farms in their delicious presentations of American Classic cuisine. Recent options have included Pear and Endive Salad, Summer Melon with Duck Prosciutto, Grilled Niman Ranch Pork Loin, Seared King Salmon, and Warm Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream. The wine list features over 70 wines from the Lodi appellation. Towne House’s Weekend Brunch is from 8 am to 2 pm and we recommend their Smoked Salmon Scramble or Open Faced Omelette. 2505 West Turner Road (209) 371-6160
Lodi Wine Tasting – Other Food Purveyors to Explore
A Moveable Feast – This remarkable food truck offers “Fine Grub and Sandwiches” and it’s easy to find thanks to the bright green paint job. The menu includes Steak, Chicken Caesar, or Cajun Shrimp Sandwiches or Beef, Black Bean or Salmon Burgers. You can also order Fries with your choice of Spices and Dipping Sauces. Our top recommendation? Their Chicken Pesto Sandwich with Romaine and Tomato on a Toasted Bun. 1000 West Kettleman Lane, Lodi (209) 642-1877
Cheese Central – This delightful shop from owner Cindy Della Monica has a world-class selection of cow, goat and sheep cheeses as well as charcuterie, crackers, and craft beers. In fact, the friendly folks here can prepare a basket of treats for you to take into any of the local wineries so you can arrange your own wine-and-cheese pairing Lodi wine tasting experience. The cheeses here include Bucheron, Cambozola, Garrotxa, Hornbacher, Le Roule, Manchego, Ossau-Iraty, and more from producers such as Bellwether Farms, Cowgirl Creamery, Fiscalini, Point Reyes Farmstead and Vella. You’ll also have about a dozen different Cheddars each day to select from. Cheese Central also offers cooking and cheese education classes, with recent courses including Bread Baking, Sushi, Pestos and Summer Pastas. 11 North School Street, Lodi, (209) 368-3033
Lockeford Meats and Sausage – The extensive menu of high-quality sausages and meats here is the reason why there always seems to be a line. Come here to get Apple, Basil, Bavarian, Garlic, Jalapeño, Mild Italian and Hot Italian Sausages, or classic Old-Fashioned Franks to take home for your own BBQ party. You’ll also find Andouille, Bratwurst, Chorizo, Kielbasa, Linguica, Slab Bacon and Marinated Tri-Tips ready to go. So far, our favorites have been the Smoked Dakota Bratwurst and the Hawaiian Luau Sausage. 19775 North Cotton Street, Lockeford (209) 727-5584
Olive Drop – The charming Karen Chandler heads this olive oil company and while we are big fans of her Original olive oil she also makes 6 flavored versions, leveraging other local products for the infusions where possible. Our personal favorites are the Orange, Basil and Garlic olive oils. If you schedule an appointment, you will taste the Mission Olive-based products in a quaint 1895 house surrounded by olive trees that are over 100 years old. You should also ask about her chocolate chip cookie recipe substituting her oils in place of some of the typical butter. 511 West Sargent Road, Lodi, (209) 369-6868 [reservation required]
School Grounds Coffee & Gelato Bar – For an excellent espresso experience in downtown Lodi we recommend coming here. You’ll also find iced drinks, Nitro Brew coffee on tap, and Chai, hot or iced teas. School Grounds is committed to incredible coffee and impeccable flavors, and features beans from Moschetti Espresso. Baked goods here feature treats from Sweet Cindy’s Goodies Galore and the gelato is from Caffé Classico. Attention gardeners: School Grounds also gives away free coffee grounds here, already packaged in portable containers. 115 South School Street #5, Lodi (209) 224-5873
Sweet Mel’s Dutch Bakery – This old-fashoned bakery is run by (we kid you not) an 82-year old former military officer who is a self-taught baker. The baked goods here include Pies, Pastries, Turnovers, Breads and Cakes. The cookie collection sounds like a return to grandma’s house because Mel makes Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, English Tea and Macaroon cookies, among others. 623 East Oak Street, Suite C, Lodi (209) 329-0918
Lodi Wine Tasting – Biking Around
Lodi is a great region for cycling and you’ll find plenty of information and resources available. Bike Lodi is a group of bicycle enthusiasts whose mission is to educate and advocate for the safe use of bicycles as a viable and sustainable means of transportation and enjoyment. They’ve already established bike racks in the downtown area, promoted Bike to Work day locally, and continuously advocate for an enhanced bike lane network.
Downtown Bicycles used to be a full-service bicycle shop offering sales, rentals and custom builds but is now focused on offering mobile services. If you need to borrow a bike or two, give them a call at 209-224-8504. They can also help guide your group through a variety of cycling tours such as:
- Lodi Lake Family Fun Ride – an easy 5-mile trip from downtown to Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River and then back to the Lodi Arch.
- Wine Tasting Jaunt – this casual route is only 10 miles long but includes the option of stopping at up to 6 different wine tasting rooms
- Bird Watching and Wine Tasting – a 29 mile ride includes stops at the Sandhill Crane Reserve and the beautiful Oak Farm Vineyards along the way
- Cosumnes River Preserve – this 36 mile route travels down tree-lined roads, local vineyards and olive orchards on the way to the Cosumnes River Preserve and back
In addition to predesigned tours, Downtown Bicycles is also able to custom-design a route to better match your personal needs and/or destination desires.
Another way to combine Lodi wine tasting and cycling would be through the McCay Cellars Cycling Club. Typically on the first Saturday of the month, the club meets at the tasting room at 9 am for a ride through the local wine country. There are diverse levels of rides (beginner, intermediate, expert) and after the trip you can “wine-down” with wine and refreshments back at the winery. Details on the club, dates, and costs can be found on the winery’s website.
Lodi Wine Tasting Diversion – Lake Activities
Lodi Lake is a man-made lake in Lodi’s northwest corner which serves as the venue for many events and activities. Lodi Lake Nature Area Docents offer programs related to nature and the Mokelumne River area, and the Lodi Lake Nature Trail is a 1.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail that offers lakeside views for part of the trip. Lodi Lake Beach features a large sandy beach area for your enjoyment and the lake also has a boat launch available from 8 am to 6 pm.
If you don’t have a boat to bring, consider renting a canoe, kayak or paddle board from Headwaters Kayak at the Lodi Lake Boathouse. You can rent equipment hourly, or for a four-hour block, and Headwaters can even help provide assistance with tours or classes. The Mokelumne River is a popular paddling destination, surrounded by trees and with plenty of twists but rarely windy. Nature lovers will delight in the array of wildlife along the way: deer, river otters, beavers, minks, turtles and a variety of birds may be on your path.
From May through September, chartered boat tours are also available for 90-minute trips covering nearly five miles of the Mokelumne River. On the weekends, 45-minute “mini-trips” are offered.
Lodging for Lodi Wine Tasting Excursions
If you’re planning a Lodi wine tasting trip and need advice on Lodging, we suggest you reach out to the Downtown Lodi Visitor Center (800-798-1810) or explore their website for ideas. They can help you with Hotels, Motels, Bed and Breakfasts, RV and Campground spots, and/or Vacation Homes. Personally, we’ve found the Hampton Inn & Suites on Beckman Road near Kettleman Lane comfortable and convenient, with great customer service. Free parking, free internet access, breakfast included and there’s even an onsite pool. 1337 Beckman Road, Lodi (209) 369-2700
If you haven’t been to Lodi to wine taste recently, there are a lot of reasons to correct that. Lodi is home to over 190,000 acres of premium winegrapes, producing more than 100 varietals, and it’s actually the largest appellation in California. Many of the grape-growing families here have lived in the region for four or five generations. There are plenty of worthwhile tasting rooms and great food destinations waiting for you to discover them so start planning a trip, OK?
For other wine country recommendations, please remember to use the drop-down menus in the navigation bar under Favorites by Wine Region. We already have suggestions posted for Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Santa Barbara and more. We will be adding Lodi as a region, so as we discover new great destinations for wine, food, and lodging, you can see our most current listing of Favorites there.