2545 W. Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242 (map link)
The order of words in the name is telling. It’s not the Lodi Visitor and Wine Center. Sure, that wouldn’t roll off the tongue as smoothly as Lodi Wine and Visitor Center, but it’s more than that. The word order reflects the sequence of discovery you experience when visiting Lodi as a wine lover.
You come for the wine. Then, while you visit, Lodi reveals its many charms.
From the wonderful cottage we shared with friends to the delightful downtown, through every surrounding vineyard and tasting room, Lodi unfolded as a welcoming spot to relax and explore with loved ones and friends.
The Lodi Wine and Visitor Center is the hub of the Lodi Wine and Chocolate weekend. It’s where you pick up your wristbands and maps and any other information you might need to navigate the abundance of venues. That’s not all though – the Center is perhaps the most comprehensive wine tasting facility in all of Lodi. Their website explains that they offer tastings and sales of over 100 wines from the roughly 80 wineries in the area. On any given day they offer 8 different wines for tasting.
We tried to stop in Sunday morning, but as we approached the Center we saw a stretch Crown Vic parked at the curb and a stretch Hummer limo parked in the lot, with a shuttle bus just pulling in from the road. Taking quick advantage of California’s attitude of “anything not forbidden is permitted” we made a (perfectly legal) u-turn and went somewhere else instead. Nikki says: As I recall, we were all shouting, “Abort mission! Abort mission! Retreat!!!” as we turned. Even we have a threshold when it comes to crowds.
We managed to get back to the Center toward the end of Sunday when the crowd was refreshingly sparse. We tasted at their main bar and on the patio, and enjoyed some samples of balsamic vinegar and artisan olive oils in the lobby.
We arrived late enough that some of the wines were gone baby gone, but you know what they say – two’s company, three’s a party.
2007 Peltier Station Viognier: Nikki was taken with the scent and flavor of orange blossoms in this aromatic wine. I appreciated how its sweetness peaked at just the right point and I enjoyed the lightly creamy mouthfeel.
2007 Campus Oaks Old Vine Zin: I had a taste of chocolate right before trying this. It was not a good choice for this wine. It had a fairly light body that I associate with a more European aesthetic, but it seemed too acidic through the chocolate aftertaste. Nikki’s notes indicate it may not have been the chocolate that made me feel this way.
2009 Wooden Nickel Petite Sirah: This one was squarely in the California pocket. Fruity and accessible, I’d call it unambitious but gregarious.
I think this is my last writeup for the Lodi trip. As Lodi got smaller in the rearview we felt satisfied but a little sad to be leaving such an endearing place. It definitely belongs on the short list if you’re contemplating a wine weekend in California.