There’s so much to see and do within driving distance of our home in Southern California, so we decided to take a road trip to Northern California to check out Lodi’s wineries.
In 2015, Lodi was named wine region of the year by The Wine Enthusiast. While Lodi has been home to many vineyards since 1850, it only had about 8 wineries in 1993. Today, there are over 85 wineries in Lodi as the vineyards increasingly integrate downstream to make their own wine rather than sell their grapes to third parties. Lodi is best known for its red Zinfandels because those vines can handle the intense summer heat in the area. However, the wind that rips through the region in the summer cools the temperature dramatically at night allowing a wide variety of grapes and wines to be produced.
With wine tasting fees averaging just $5 at the vineyards or $10 downtown (usually waved with bottle purchase), it’s becoming a popular alternative to $15-$20 wine tasting fees in Napa and Sonoma. Lodi is not as scenic as Napa or Sonoma, but after your first hearty tasting pour you’ll begin to appreciate the charm of Lodi’s wineries and the Sacramento River delta that winds all around the area a few miles west of Lodi.
Food is hard to find at the vineyards, and so we recommend picking up sandwiches in town and enjoying a picnic over some wine at a vineyard. Michael David winery is probably the only winery there with a restaurant and market on site. They also have a beautiful pond, bocci ball courts, and plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy a picnic.
Several of the wineries also have tasting rooms downtown if you prefer the bar atmosphere. Jeremy’s and Van Ruitten are local favorites for their delicious reds, and Weibel is known for its affordable but tasty sparkling white wines. There’s also a cute farmer’s market downtown on Thursdays that starts around five, just as the wine tasting there ends.
We enjoyed the convenience of the downtown wineries, but we prefer to visit the wineries at their vineyards where it’s typically less crowded, more scenic, and the owners often share their stories and give special pours. Several of the wineries host live music concerts on the summer weekend nights for $10-$35. Bring some food, buy a bottle of wine on site, and enjoy great music. Jessie’s Grove hosted 900 people at their last summer concert and bonfire. Jessie’s also allows patrons to park their RV or tent camp in their grass field overnight during concerts. They also have a rich history with some old zin vines dating back to 1888.
We missed Jessie’s last summer concert and Michael David’s annual summer reggae show but had a blast listening to live country music at Abundance Vineyards for just $10 (kids were free and welcome). We also were charmed by the wine, people, and architecture at Abundance.
The most popular place to taste wine in the area is probably The Old Sugar Mill, a renovated sugar refinery from 1934 that hosts about 11 wineries from Northern California and is a local favorite for weddings and events. It’s actually in Clarksburg, about 45 minutes from Lodi, but it’s worth the visit if you are looking for a very social atmosphere.
Lodi’s wineries are also centrally located from other popular Northern California destinations – about a 2 hour drive from San Francisco, Yosemite Valley, Santa Cruz, or Tahoe and just 30 minutes from wind and water sports at Sherman Island. So next time your wine rack is running low, go LoCa.
(Sherman Island Kiteboarding: Photo Credit AllenKingPhoto)
Beautiful photographs! And vineyards never failed to make our hearts melt. It is so beautiful and of course the wine products could get so lovely!
We feel the same! 😉 Love all things wine… but the vineyards are just so gorgeous!
I hadn’t even heard of Lodi before, but it looks gorgeous! And how can you go wrong with over 85 wineries in one area?? 😉
Right?! Its pretty amazing… and they’re all pretty close to each other which is wonderful! Very convenient! If you ever make it there be sure to let us know! 🙂
I want to explore California wine country so much! Your pictures are gorgeous.
You definitely should! They’re all wonderful, but we are definitely a fan of the Old Vine Zin’s that Lodi has to offer!
Looks like great fun! I’ve consumed more wine this year than in my entire life all put together. Seems like everybody is now offering vineyards and winery tours. I love it! 😉
Thats awesome!! There could be worse things! 🙂
I would love to do a winery trip through Northern California someday!
I hope you are able to take that trip sometime! Its absolutely amazing…
So gorgeous! Wine country is one of my favorite places!
We love many wine country areas as well. ??
Some of the winery we have been to are over the top beautiful. Big business.
We also adore the smaller privately owned wineries as well. We love to meet and chat with the owners.
What a BEAUTIFUL place! I love the pictures you took.
Thank you so much! We had so much fun exploring, taking photos… And of course, tasting wine. ??
I’m from Temecula so I love wineries! These look beautiful!
Oh. We are just south of you and haven’t done the Temecula wineries yet…but it’s on our list. Do you have any recommendations?!
wow, that looks like such a beautiful place!
It sure is! We can’t wait to go back!!
I’d really love to do a California wine trip some day. Those photos are beautiful!
I hope you are able to do it someday. Its wonderful.
How beautiful!! So amazing.
It really was fabulous.
What an amazing looking post ! Made a little jealous gotta admit.
Aww… Glad you liked the post. Cheers. ?
What an amazing adventure and so beautiful too!
Thanks. It was definitely a beautiful location and we had a blast.
What a beautiful winery!
What a beautiful way to spend a day, weekend, week… These look breathtakingly beautiful for even the non wine drinkers (but a huge plus for those who do enjoy a good glass ). Absolutely gorgeous photos to keep this alive !
Yes, yes and yes to all of those time spans! haha.
The wineries are beautiful for everyone… and some offer great places to eat lunch, even if you aren’t sipping wine!
85 wineries?? That’s a lot!!! I would love to do wine tasting here and see the amazing view. Your photos are great btw!
Yes, its amazing how many wineries are in such a small area. It sure makes it convenient though! I hope you make it to Lodi sometime…
Love this post! Wineries are such a wonderful place to go for a relaxing afternoon. Love the photos as well!
They absolutely are… gorgeous, relaxing… and some wine! Perfect afternoon!
Looks beautiful and like you had a fabulous time!!! Hopefully you’ll get to do it again!
Oh absolutely… next summer for sure, if not sooner. 😉
So gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much! 🙂
Dream vacation! Looks like you had a wonderful time.
Yes, it was fabulous! I hope you make it there sometime!
Beautiful place! I’m not a fan of wine, only add it to cooking but I don’t mind occasional sip here and there 🙂
It is a lovely place to visit… even if you don’t love wine. I, however, am a huge fan of wine… but even if you aren’t there are lots of beautiful sites to see.
This looks like such a neat place! Beautiful pics!
It is a fabulous place! 🙂
Beautiful photographs. Lodii sounds like a great destination!
Thanks so much! Lodi is wonderful… we can’t wait to go back!
Abundance is beautiful. I’ve always wanted to do a wine tour on the west coast. I will book mark this article for future travel 🙂
That’s awesome. Please be sure to let us know if you make it out west!!
Gorgeous photos! I haven’t yet met a wine from Lodi I haven’t liked. Thank you for sharing (I love vineyards)
I know the feeling. We loved them all… But especially those Old Vine Zins.
Thank you! ?
Such a beautiful place.!
It really is… ❤️
Looks amazing! Loving your photos. Hope you had a fantastic weekend xo, sharon
Thanks so much!!!
Putting this on my list of places to visit next time I plan a trip to Cali. Great Post!
Awesome. So glad to hear that. And thank you so much. ❤️
gorgeous photos, nice post!!!
Thank you so much!!
A winery trip sounds amazing! I love wine and would love to learn more about it. Also, your pictures are amazing! So beautiful
Thank you so much! Wineries are so much fun… especially when you get the opportunity to meet the owners.
DRIVING UP to NOCAL tomorrow from SOCAL!!! I will probably pass this beautiful place!! 🙂
Where are you heading to and from… sounds like we make the same trips! LOL! Enjoy Norcal! 🙂
Great point that you mentioned packing or buying lunch before heading to the wineries. I always thought that snacks and food would be served – good to know that this may not be the case.
Right?! I always assumed the same thing. But yes, do be prepared before heading to the wineries for the day!