You don't have to drink
wine to pass the time in Lodi, but it's wine culture garners top billing as
the primary tourism attraction the city offers guests visiting the Northern
California region 35 miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of the San
One of the best resources when you arrive in town is the Lodi
Wine and Visitors Center. Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, 2545 W. Turner Rd.,
Lodi, CA 95242. Open daily, you'll find a tasting room representing the
region's wines, gift store, maps, magazines, literature and hands-on
educational displays teaching about wine soils, growing techniques and types
of wines the region enjoys.
Lodi is home to nearly two dozen
wineries, hundreds of labeled wines, and thousands of acres of premium wine
grapes. The area's transition to premium wines arrived several decades ago
in 1986 when Lodi's wine region received designation as an American
Viticulture Area producing the Lodi Appellation.
The wine history of Lodi spans not
just a few decades, however, but well over a century in this ideal wine
growing region. Beginning in 1850, Capt. Charles Weber, founder of Stockton,
was the first to plant grapes in the region around his home. Gold miner
George West saw those flourishing vines and established the first
major vineyard two years later in Lodi-Woodbridge region. In 1858, he
built El Pinal Winery and became the region's first commercial vintner.
Meanwhile Lodi farmers grew grain and watermelons.
In the late 1880's farmers discovered wine's benefits as the soils and a
special grape called Tokay provided consistent crops. Tokay was a delicious
table grape that held up well during the long rail trip across country to
eastern markets. Fermented into wine, it could also be distilled into
brandy, or fortified into ports and sherries.
As the West family maintained a strangle-hold on the region's commercial
wine trade, coops were formed in time to meet the biggest challenge yet, the
dreaded 1919 Prohibition which was an effort to remove and do away with
liquor nationally. Instead of being a bust for Lodi, the Prohibition was a
boon. Farmers could send their grapes by rail to other locations where they
were then secretly turned into wine. Equally, the end of the Prohibition in
1933 did not impact Lodi negatively.
By the 1990's thousands of acres of
grapes served to make affordable table wines. Wineries throughout the state
turned to Lodi for their grapes, sometimes blending them with other types of
grapes grown in other regions. Another example of this type of wine trade
can be seen along the Sacramento River Delta outside the city of Sacramento
In addition to shopping, you can take
in a live concert or play at the beautiful Hutchins Street Square's Kirst
Hall. World class musicians, theatrical performances and a variety of
entertainment from around the globe makes Lodi seem not too small. With the
advantages of the relatively small population and the active calendar of
events throughout the seasons, there's more than wine to tempt your taste
buds. A friendly, small-town atmosphere combines with the finer things
such as music, arts, entertainment and wine to entice visitors to stay and
enjoy an authentic experience.
Several exciting events that attract
large crowds include the twice a year Lodi Street Faire held the first Sunday
in May and the first Sunday in October. Over 700 vendors sell antiques,
arts, crafts and commercial items. There are also approximately 20 to 25
food vendors who sell everything from hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, pizza
and sodas. This event showcases Lodi's friendly folks who love to gather for
a celebration sponsored by the Lodi Chamber of Commerce.
Another popular chamber event is the Sandhill
Crane Festival held in the fall. The Sandhill Crane, the most celebrated
fowl in the area, shares the ponds and region's lakes with sparrows, wrens,
swallows and even the threatened Swainson’s hawk species seen at Lodi Lake.
Bird watching is a popular event throughout the year but especially during
active migrations. If you fancy birds, you wont' want to miss the
Crane fest. lodichamber.com.
If you'd rather watch flying balls
than birds, Lodi features several public golf clubs.
Golf Course, 16360 N. Highway 88, Lodi, CA 95205. Call: (209) 333-6275.
Opened in 1995, this Sandy Tatum and Jim Sommers designed 18-hole
course features 14 holes cut out of an old walnut tree orchard. The natural
setting makes this course quite scenic. The terrain is flat, yet the
fairways experience some mounding. The greens are sloped and undulating.
There is a creek that meanders through the course that comes into play on
only a couple of holes. The signature hole is #18, a 514-yard, par 5, which
plays to a dogleg fairway with a lake on the left and a waterfall and stream
that flow into the lake. In addition, this hole has an L-shaped green with a
canal on the right and the lake on the left.
Lockeford Springs Golf Course
Grove Golf Links, 11401 N Micke Grove Rd., Lodi, CA 95240. Phone:
(209)369-4410. Micke Grove Golf Links is a public golf course built in 1992
by Garrett Gill and George Williams. It features a links-style course
nestled among Lodi's wine grape vineyards. It has eight lakes that come into
play on a number of holes. The signature hole is #14, a 179-yard, par 3,
requiring a tee shot over water to a green framed with railroad ties in
Grove Golf Links
Lodi has approximately 52,000
residents. The city sits on the banks of the Mokelumne River at Hwy 12 and
Hwy 99. It's neighboring town is Woodbridge, also known for vineyards and
quality wine. Lodi was founded as a railroad stop in 1869 as Mokelumne
Station, but three years later received its present name. While no one knows
how Lodi got its name, one lively tail revolves around a winning race horse,
a stallion that was unbeaten in the late 1800's. Today, a dam at Woodbridge
prevents downstream craft from reaching Lodi. But the dam does form Lodi
Lake, which includes a park and is a popular recreation area with a boat
launch. Lodi is bordered by Interstate-5 to
the west and Highway 99 on the east. Amtrak stops in Lodi several times a
day and several major airports are not out of reach.