360 Magazine Culture Editor, Tom Wilmer explores Lodi, California’s exemplary wine, cuisine and culture.
Lodi has been chugging along as a major wine and grape producer for more than a Century.
Located in the San Joaquin Valley a hundred miles inland from San Francisco and a five-hour drive from Hollywood, Lodi is a highly recommended weekend wine getaway.
Why? You’ll discover truly world-class family run wineries and businesses with the added allure of a small town innocence where the people are friendly and welcoming.
Liz Bokisch savors her wine at Bokisch Vineyards. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Lodi has long been legendary for their Zinfandel—producing more than 40 percent of all premium Zin sold in California. But, Lodi does not get the media-buzz like Napa Valley—and in a way that’s a good thing as it offers an opportunity to experience a world-class wine region that has not gone over the top.
Word Class? Yes. In 2015 the prestigious Wine Spectator proclaimed Lodi as the Wine Region of the year.
Michael David;s brilliant Seven Deadly Zins label propelled the winery from a boutique operation to 700,000 case production in 2018. Today FreakShow is a star label. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Lodi was awarded Wine Enthusiast’s coveted “Wine Region of the Year” in 2015, and in September 2018, USA Today’s Readers’ Poll awarded Lodi with second place in the Top 10 Best Wine Regions in America.
Lodi winemakers regularly walk away with double-golds at wine competitions. Mettler Family Vineyards’ winemaker Adam Mettler, was recipient of Wine Spectator’s prestigious 2018 Winemaker of the Year award.
Mettler Family Vineyards tasting room in Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
There are also delightful upstarts like Ms. Sue Tipton. She didn’t even think about becoming a winemaker until she was 50 years-old—and when she did, she decided to only craft white wines.
Everyone told her she wouldn’t make a go of it unless she also made reds.
Tifton plowed ahead in spite of the naysayers and it wasn’t long before her Voignier won the “Best in the State of California” at the 2016 California State Fair.
Just a sampler of Acquiesce Winery’s award winning white wines. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Come for a visit and you will be pleasantly comforted by the absence of bumper-to-bumper traffic—it’s stone cold refreshing—and savor the preponderance of laid back family run wineries.
It’s no accident that Lodi Wine is slated to be the official wine of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California.
Lucas Winery”s old-vine zin planted in 1933 aren’t the oldest zinfandel vines in Lodi–some date from the 1880s. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Wine is just one of the many cool ingredients that make Lodi such a tempting destination—there’s also a burgeoning culinary scene with, of course, a downtown microbrewery.
At Wine & Roses Inn and Spa—you’ll meet, and hopefully have time for dinner prepared by James Beard award-winning chef—Bradley Ogden, a true California culinary legend and trendsetter.
Chef Bradley Ogden in the kitchen at Wine & Roses Inn, Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Lodi Wine Commission
Chef Ogden came to national attention in the early 1980s at Kansas City’s famed The American Restaurant shortly after graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.
Ogden served as executive chef at San Francisco’s Campton Place Hotel before opening his first restaurant, The Lark Creek Inn, in 1989.
Over the years, he’s been involved in dozens of legendary California restaurant operations, including One Market in San Francisco, his namesake eatery in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, The Lark Creek Inn, Larkspur, and Root 246 in Solvang.
Ogden recently settled in Lodi, California, where he serves as culinary director at Wine & Rose Resort & Spa’s Town House restaurant.
Wine & Roses Inna and Spa’s evocative architecture. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Wine & Roses Spa in Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
tranquil vista at Wine and Roses Inn Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Kayaking on Lake Lodi. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
morning outing with Headwaters Kayak Company in Lodi. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Listen in to the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer KCBX/NPR One audio podcast series to hear the stories and tales of the Lodi wine world as told by the locals:
Click here to listen to the Podcast interview at Lucas Winery
Click here for Lodi overview, kayaking, biking, and agricultural history podcast
Wine tasting venues in Lodi are cozy and inviting–like this romantic setting at Macchia Winery. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Click here to listen to Chef Bradley Ogden’s Podcast interview
Chef Bradley Ogden dinner at Wine and Roses Inn, Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Sunset in the fields at Acquiesce Winery Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Old water wagon at Oak Farm Winery Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Lodi Wine Trail. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Back in the day in Lodi, California. Photo Courtesy Lodi Wine Commission
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C.