Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lodi Wine Country

For many people, all they know about Lodi, California is the reference Creedence Clearwater Revival made to it when they sung, "stuck in ole Lodi again."

For most wine aficionados, Lodi was not a wine region they sought out. For most of its grape-growing history, the overwhelming majority of grapes grown in Lodi were sold to large winemakers who used them in producing lower-priced "California" wines.

But all of this is changing. Downtown Lodi is a pleasant place to walk around. One can stroll down tree-lined School Street, eat some good food, and visit a few shops and galleries.

Many of the growers have opened wineries and are producing well-crafted, varietal-specific wines. The area is best known for Zinfandel, but growers are experimenting with other grapes to see what grows best in the region.

If you want to visit Lodi, there are over 20 wineries with tasting rooms. Some are open daily while others are only open on weekends. A good place to start your visit is the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center, operated by the Lodi Woodbridge Winegrape Commission. The Center has exhibits on grape growing and wine making in the area. It also houses a tasting room where you can taste wines produced by area wineries that do not have their own tasting rooms. The Commission's website, www.LodiWine.com, is an excellent resource to help you plan your winetasting visit. The Center is located at 2545 W. Turner Road on the grounds of the Wine and Roses Hotel.

Lodi is about two-hours from San Francisco. You can easily make it a stop on your way to Gold Country or the Sierra Nevada Mountains. For more information on Lodi, visit the Lodi Conference and Visitor's Bureau's website: www.VisitLodi.com.

If you would like to take a private tour to Lodi, please feel free to contact me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Napa Valley's Big Four - Part IV, V. Sattui Winery

Of the four wineries I've included in my posts on Napa Valley's Big Four, V. Sattui Winery is the one winery whose appeal mystifies me.

The main lure for visitors appears to be that Sattui is the only winery in the Napa Valley with a full deli counter. Since the winery also has a large number of picnic tables outside, it is easy for visitors to get food for a picnic and then eat outside. However, the convenience, in my view, is more than offset by the large crowds at the winery, particularly on weekends. I fail to understand why folks don't prefer to go to one of the excellent grocery stores in the Valley and then take their food to a quieter and prettier picnic area at one of the many other wineries that permit visitors to picnic. (You can see my recommendations for picnicking in the Napa Valley by reading my two posts in September 2006.)

The tasting room is fairly typical for a big winery -- lots of wines and lots of stuff to buy. The wines are ok, but there is nothing so special about them that makes tasting them worth fighting the crowds.

Sattui is the only one of the Big Four that I cannot recommend visiting. If you would like to take a private tour of the Napa Valley that includes a picnic lunch without the crowds, please feel free to call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.