100 East Taddei Road, Acampo, CA 95220 (map link)
Since November, we’d planned this weekend trip to Lodi with our friends Kevin and Carissa. Nikki booked our lodgings, Carissa built up a list of wineries and plotted them on a map, and the boys made sure we were fully packed and stocked with food for the weekend.
We rolled into Lodi around 5pm on Friday. We thought we wouldn’t be able to visit any wineries, but the Lodi Conference and Visitors Bureau official guide informed us we were wrong! There’s a handful of tasting rooms open into the evening. Most are downtown. One, however, is located in the middle of vineyards and listed as “Viaggio Estate on the River.” It sounded far too glamorous to pass up.
Viaggio truly lives up to the “Estate” sobriquet. As we turned off the road onto their property, we drove past first one enormous building, then another. The light was low, the parking areas seemed abandoned, and we were worried. Had we entered onto private property after it was closed?
Then we rounded a corner and everything burst into light. A large gate opened on to a brick-paved pedestrian road (it’s far too large to call it a walkway) called “Main Street.” Perfectly groomed plants line both sides of the walkway, which leads after a substantial meander to the tasting room.
The light was low (as you can see by our terrible mobile phone photos) and the huge, elegant space was full of people eating lovely dinners as they were serenaded by a saxophonist. The room was large enough that the sax player actually required an amplifier. It was like entering a converted Italian manor house. The hallway was full of display cases packed with memorabilia and toys that the boys enjoyed.
We thought for a moment we’d stumbled onto the wrong place. But no — at the other side of the huge room was a very, VERY long marble tasting bar.
As soon as we sat down, tasting room employee Nicole was on the case, moving quickly and efficiently through the array of wines available for tasting. In some ways she was a little too efficient; she poured and walked away so quickly that we could never get a solid look at the labels to get as much data as we wanted on the wines.
Pinot Grigio: Many Pinot Grigios qualify as “grapefruity” because of their acidity and because of a hit of bitterness at the back. This was grapefruity because of the acidity but also because of a tangy, fruity flavor. It was much more fruit than I would ever expect from a Pinot Grigio.
Chardonnay: The smell had a hint of caramel, and though the flavor profile was similar to the Pinot Grigio, the finish on this had a rich flavor, almost a hint of creme brulee.
Petite Sirah: This wine was my first “yum” of the night. It was loaded with figs, caramel and chocolate.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Kevin said, “The flavor is all in the front.” It’s true; this cab had fruit, a hint of pepper, a little wood and a little astringency, but all the flavors hit at the front of the mouth.
Ancient Vines Zinfandel: The vines this wine is made from are over 120 years old. I will admit, I was not knocked out by this wine. It felt like the vines had lost their potency with age. I tasted a little fruit at the beginning followed by a bitter, astringent flavor.
Zinfandel Dessert Wine: While many dessert wines are fortified with alcohol, Nicole assured us that this wine was 100% unfortified zin. Carissa said, “This reminds me of cheesecake.” I tasted chocolate and cream, but the finish had a bitter hit I did not enjoy.
Sparkling Wine: This was the find of the visit. Viaggio Winery makes their sparkling wine from chardonnay. Rather than turning overdry or cloyingly sweet, the light bubbles in this case just seemed to emphasize the fruity aspects of the chardonnay.
Mike said, “You couldn’t go wrong with any of these wines.” It’s true (except for that zin, but perhaps I had palate fatigue). If you brought any Viaggio wine to a party, you could be assured that everyone would enjoy your choice.