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Dining for the non-drinker

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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 12:13 pm | Updated: 10:08 am, Sat May 28, 2011.

Even though Lodi is home to scores of wineries, it’s a well-known fact that wine isn’t for everyone. Some people would rather enjoy a dose of local history, while others like to peruse art.

Fortunately, Lodi has no shortage of side activities to placate non-drinkers as their friends test the area’s vintages.

Here is a brief listing of places non-drinkers should consider visiting:

  • Abundance Vineyards: Live music concerts during the summer.
  • Berghold Vineyards: Antiques and art for sale in its tasting room.
  • d’Art Wines: Art gallery in the tasting room, with pieces created by winery owner and winemaker Dave Dart.
  • The Dancing Fox: Restaurant and bakery with a tasting room attached.
  • Heritage Oak Winery: Nature trail and 20-acre woodland on the property, where visitors can walk and view wildlife.
  • Jessie’s Grove: “Groovin’ in the Grove” summer concert series.
  • Woodbridge Winery: Free daily public tours of the winery at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Not only do the wineries offer a welcoming environment for non-drinkers, the area’s winetasting events also cater to them, said Mark Chandler, executive director of the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission.

“At the Wine and Chocolate (Weekend) event we just had, we encouraged designated drivers and made sure there was something available for them,” he said.

The events hosted by the commission, such as Zinfest and First Sip, often feature designated driver tickets at a discounted price as well.

Blending wine with art has attracted people from the Bay Area to make the trip to d’Art Winery, Dave Dart said.

“We haven’t gotten people here just for the art, but definitely the art does attract people,” he said.

Making a tasting room more than just a place to sample wines helps not only the winery, but the community as a whole, said Dart.

“It’s important for the wineries to have more than just wine,” he said. “The wine is still going to create the wine region, but it’s also the experience that brings wine drinkers to the area. The experience has to include the visual as well as the tasting.”

Providing a setting that satisfies multiple senses is vital to a pleasurable winetasting experience, said Tom Hoffman, owner of Heritage Oak Winery. The winery features a nature walk area by the Mokelumne River and hosts monthly bird-watching tours during the summer.

“We do get a fair amount of people who come out here for our little walk down to the beach,” he said. “It’s a significant little hook for people looking for something different to do.”

Contact reporter  Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com or Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com.

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