Best known for big red wines, particularly old-vine Zinfandels, the American Viticultural Area of Lodi Wine Country is one of the most diverse grape growing regions in the world—thanks to its seven distinct soils, over 100 varietals are able to be cultivated. It’s also a leader when it comes to going green. Upwards of 25,000 acres are certified sustainable, and this is the birthplace of Lodi Rules, California’s first third-party certified sustainable winegrowing program. A variety of tasting rooms, located about 100 miles east of San Francisco, have sprouted up in recent years.
Wine & Roses, located on an elegant 116-year-old seven-acre estate that has been granted recognition as a historical site, makes the ideal home base while winery-hopping. In addition to its luxurious accommodations and amenities, the 66-room hotel is adjacent to the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, which offers a rotating selection of varietals from nearly 80 local vintners.
Though the range of wines has grown, the rich, concentrated New World varietals are still the region’s hallmark, and more than 40 percent of the state’s Zinfandels are produced here. Map out your own tour—stop by Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards for their award-winning Rhône-style wines, or St. Amant Winery for their Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel. Or spend an afternoon cycling through vineyards (and tasting wine) on the Four Wineries and a Café bike tour, or, for the truly adventurous, there’s the Water to Wine Tour—on kayaks!
If you need an excuse to celebrate wine, these two festivals are good bets: ZinFest, an annual three-day tasting party each May, offers a chance to sample some 250 wines from Lodi’s best producers, while the Lodi Grape Festival, held in September, features crafts, rides, games, and delicious food offerings.
The self-proclaimed Zinfandel Capital of the World offers more than just vino. Lodi attracts golfers with its array of top-level courses, and the Lodi Lake Park offers short walking trails and just about every kind of water recreation, including kayaking, paddle-boarding, rafting, canoeing, and fishing. The area is also a great place for cyclists; spend an afternoon cycling through beautiful country roads and more than 23 different bike trails. Lodi also plays host to two bike tours: the Giro D’Vino in the fall, and the Tour Delle Vigne in May. And downtown, the arts scene is often on display at Hutchins Street Square, where a wide variety of concerts, theatre events, and youth activities take place throughout the year (check Lodi’s event calendar here).
Looking for the perfect family destination, with the great outdoors as the main attraction? Camping draws many to Jellystone Tower Park Marina & Resort (besides twice-daily appearances by Yogi Bear and friends, that is), but there are also loads of activities to choose from, including mini golf, water-sport rentals, laser tag, arts and crafts and more. And there’s an added bonus for wildlife lovers: Lodi is also the top viewing destination for migrating sandhill cranes during the months of September to March. Each year thousands of these magnificent birds color the skies as they make their way to Lodi’s wildlife refuges and farmlands, some from nesting grounds as far away as Siberia. See them at the Woodbridge Ecological Preserve and the Cosumnes River Preserve.