Lodi Wineries – Zinfandel Capital of the World

As a California native I’m always excited to explore more of my Golden State. Since I haven’t yet been able to make it up to explore the Lodi wineries, I asked Lisa Waterman Gray to share all the details with you! Grab a glass of wine and enjoy this tour.

A ‘Taste’ of Lodi Wineries

In this cohesive ‘Zinfandel Capital of the World,’ individual families own most of 80+ wineries that thrive amid bountiful water in much of the Central Valley, and ‘delta breezes’ that create fluctuating temperatures. Many winemakers also follow the Lodi Rules – 100+ sustainable environmental, social, and economic winemaking standards. Here are five wineries that we visited during a small group tour: 

Eco-friendly wines from Bokisch Vineyards

Gregarious and welcoming, Markus and Liz Bokisch have produced grapes and wine here since the early 2000s. Nine wines reflect their deep affection for varietals they enjoyed while living in Spain, and the influence of volcanic soil. The winery is also Certified Organic.

Tempranillo was the first Bokisch Vineyards red, and the winery’s Zinfandel was the first Lodi varietal carrying the city’s name versus ‘California.’ Since 2012 the couple’s Tizona label has included specialty blends plus Malbec, Petit Verdot and Old Vine Zin. Their Terra Alta Albarino is widely available in markets as far away as Missouri. Bokisch Vineyards was also the first U.S. winery to crate Graciano. Served amid lush, natural surroundings wine tastings are $10.

Tasty sips at cozy Klinker Brick Winery 

At Klinker Brick Winery, fifth-generation grape growers, Steve and Lori Felten, produce grape varietals that include Grenache Blanc, Albarino, Dolcetto, Mourvedre and other varietals. Their efforts reflect a 100-year-old family tradition of producing top quality fruits. The pair also incorporates the expertise of winemaker, Barry Gnekow, and marketing wizard, Lynne Whyte Barnard.

This warm and inviting winery has won the Best of California competition and is renowned for its patented, award-winning Old Ghost Zinfandel. Klinker Brick Winery sells plenty of bulk wine too. And about the winery’s name? The façades of several nearby houses incorporate ‘Klinker Brick.’ 

Open-air tasting at Michael David Winery

Michael David Winery is another Certified Sustainable winery. A five decades-old pumpkin patch, herb and U-Pick flower gardens, and even chickens, share this 60-acre site – home to 12.5 acres of Carmenere grape vineyards. Fifth generation grape growers and winery founders, Michael and David Phillips, now work with sixth generation family members too. During 2018, Michael David Winery sold more than one million wine cases and The Seven Deadly Zins varietal has been ranked as the nation’s #1 Zinfandel. 

Multi-colored hand-painted murals decorate enormous fermentation tanks, and an expansive open-air room is a relaxed spot for wine tastings during nice weather. Colorful labels also decorate bottles of such varietals as Freakshow Zinfandel, Inkblot Cabernet Franc, and Petite Petit.

French and Italian varietals by Oak Farm Vineyards

Fourteen grape varietals grow across the 710-acre site of Certified Green Oak Farm Vineyards. Available in more than a dozen states, all publicly sold bottles carry a signature White Oak label. 

Natural wood and stone decorate the spacious, sun-drenched tasting room. Tasting samples include Petite Syrah, and Barbera reds (from Italy’s Piedmonte area) and crisp, clean Sauvignon Blanc crafted in stainless steel (originally from Bordeaux). There’s also an Estate Grown Chardonnay resembling Chablis, and a mellow Estate Cab. Oak Farm Winery also produces single vineyard Zinfandel. 

This is a lovely place to drink and eat, whether you purchase a $10 wine tasting or pay $30 for seated tastings with charcuterie. The winery now features a spacious and well-equipped commercial kitchen too.

Portuguese-style wines at St. Jorge Winery

St. Jorge Winery visitors will find varietals reflecting the family’s Portuguese roots. Owner, Vern J. Vierra, loves this land deeply, having made wine here with his father and grandfather since childhood. Wines were always at the family table too. St. Jorge Winery produces Tempranillo, Verdelho, Syrah and Touriga Nacional wine plus the area’s largest port selection. In addition, St. Jorge’s Old Vine Zinfandel descends from a 1914 vineyard.

Bottle labels and the tasting room have an Old World ‘feel.’ Ornate, decorative plaster surrounds large mirrors behind the marble-topped bar, as well as a massive roaring fireplace. And when Vierra talks about his heritage and wines, he glows with pride.

After visiting the Lodi wineries, you can learn about more things to do in the Lodi region, here. You can also explore California’s wine regions and AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) here. You can also explore more things to do in California here.

During the coronavirus pandemic, most wineries are closed to the public. Check individual web sites for updates. 

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