The Central Valley is the home to many large tracts of wine grapes and many major wineries. The area produces hundreds of thousands of cases of wine annually including unbranded bulk wines.
Lodi has over 75,000 acres of vineyards and almost 60 wineries leading the state in grape production of the top five premium wine grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel. Its vineyards grow over 40% of all the California Zinfandel, including many 100 year old vines, and dwarf every other region. Its grape growing history goes back to the mid 1800’s when gold miners turned to farming and discovered the regions ability to support vineyards.
Robert Mondavi, California’s wine visionary grew up in Lodi and was president of his class at Lodi Union High School. He like many other influential wine industry leaders recognized Lodi’s potential and made substantial investments in the area.
Today Lodi is a thriving community and has become a well developed wine touring destination. Thirty-six wineries have tasting rooms offering visitors a range of wine tasting experiences. There are five large producers in the area making hundreds of thousands of cases of wine while others may make only a few barrels. Some producers have been around for decades sharing knowledge and facilities with those new to the business. Many are family affairs and may even be run by 5th generation grape growers. Check out Michael David Vineyads, Woodbridge Winery, Vino Con Brio and Berghold Vineyards.
The Lodi Wine & Visitor Center is a good stop for touring information and tasting area wines from small producers who do not have their own tasting room. The Center also has interactive exhibits and a good gift shop.
Seven American Viticultural Appellations (AVA) have been designated by the Alcohol Tax & Trade Bureau, representing the regions varied grape growing areas. Distinct soils and climates determine these designations and contribute to a wines sense of place.