Lodi is 35 miles south of Sacramento in the San Joaquin Valley. Credence Clearwater Rival wrote a song about Lodi and Sons of Anarchy referenced the town often, but did you know Lodi is a major player in California’s wine industry? It’s True! In fact, Wine Enthusiast named it Wine Region of the year in 2015. The area has a Mediterranean climate and is situated geographically for natural temperature control.

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Lodi produces 600,000 tons of wine grapes each year. It is the Zin Capital of the World and produces 40% of California’s Zinfandel. 75 varietals are grown in Lodi, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.  There are 85+ Wineries and 70+ Tasting Rooms. These are 4th and 5th generation family wine makers. They care deeply and participate in sustainability programs. Lodi is a small town of 60,000. It is comfortable. Relaxed. Lodi is very much a community. Everyone is connected; they know and support one another.  Lodi is a must visit for wine lovers!

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Lodi: Behind the Wine

I winery hopped via Sip and Shuttle; it was so much fun! While I ‘sipped back and enjoyed the ride’, I learned all about the geography of the area, the grapes and the community. We also played trivia games to win free wine tastings.  For example, if you were asked: What country produces the most wine? and excitedly answered: France! you would get a free tasting card… you’re welcome!

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Our first stop was Lodi Visitor Center. This is a must stop in the area. You will be educated about the wine and can partake in tastings. You will then be referred to wineries in the area based on your preferences. They will even give you a map.

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Next, we visited Acquiesce for a tasting of premium white wines. Not only was the wine superb, the pairings were amazing! Do not miss the 2016 Grenache Blanc paired with Gouda Thyme Cracker with Violet Flower Confit… HEAVEN! They even make their own crackers… and will share the recipe! Have I mentioned yet that I love Lodi?

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The final Sip and Shuttle stop was M2 Wines. Their tag line is: intelligent. accessible. slightly outspoken. And that sums it up! First, the wine is amazing. Then there’s the owner, you NEED to spend some time with the owner, preferably after a couple glasses of wine. He summed M2 up best when he stated he “didn’t want to make a fake Italian Villa with a parking lot. This place is young, artsy and full of energy”.

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I was lucky to spend the evening with the owners of Viaggio Estate and Winery. Of course, there was more wine tastings and there is only praise to be given. I was served a fabulous dinner any food blogger would die for and went on a tour of the grounds. If I lived in the area I would spend some lazy afternoons on their patio, next to the river, sipping wine and eating wood fired pizza FOR SURE. And, if you are ever looking to hold an event in Lodi Wine Country, check this place out and look no further!

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Lodi: Behind the Vineyard

Sons of Anarchy was set in a fictional town between Lodi and Stockton; the town’s name was Charming. I have a theory the producers came up with name after spending some time in Lodi because it is CHARMING!  Downtown Lodi is four tree lined blocks of boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and tasting rooms. Stop in the visitor center for more information and current events.

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Grab a coffee or gelato at School Grounds and go explore Lodi’s history through murals, you can pick up a free map at the visitors center.

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Stop in Cheese Central for a picnic lunch, Cindy knows her cheese and creates AMAZING pairings!

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Spend some time on the water and go kayaking on Lodi Lake. Or fish.  Or paddle board. You can even inner tube down the river!

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Check out Lodi’s food truck scene, I highly recommend the Cajun Shrimp Sandwich and Pesto Fries from A Movable Feast!

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Enjoy a root beer float at the birthplace of A&W Root Beer while exploring memorabilia.

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Have dinner at the Dancing Fox. This is a family run winery, restaurant, bakery and brewery. Ask them to tell you the story behind their labeling. I highly recommend the Mandarin Almond Salad and Veggie Twist Wood Fired Pizza.

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Listen to music at Scotto’s Wine and Cider. While you are there try a flight of Cider, you won’t be disappointed!

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Visit Olive Drop for a tasting. I fell in love with the owner, the grounds and the product. This is a must stop, everything I tasted was outstanding and I brought three home!

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Pick blueberries at K&S Blueberries, they are soooo good!

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A huge thank you to Lodi Conference & Visitors Bureau for hosting me in Lodi. As always, all opinions are my own.

Lodi California is a mistakenly overlooked wine region in the San Joaquin Valley full of charming boutiques, restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms.