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Weibel Family Vineyards opens Downtown Lodi tasting room

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Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 1:54 pm

There’s a woman who lives in a storefront window on School Street. She’s pale and elegant, lounging gracefully in an ornate chair. Her long limbs and narrow torso are often draped in rich fabrics — red, green and pink. This week, she’s covered in green and gold, and she’s greeting visitors to the Weibel Family Vineyards tasting room.

“That’s Lois,” said Judy Weibel, who found the vintage mannequin in a shop in Georgia. “She’s our mascot.”

The mannequin is an introduction of sorts to the glamorous vintage remix vibe Wiebel has created in her tasting room.

Judy and her husband, Fred Weibel, are the owners of the newest addition to Lodi’s lineup of Downtown tasting rooms. But they’ve had a bottling center in town for three decades.

The family has been making wine in California for three generations, since 1938. Fred Weibel’s grandfather was in the wine and spirits business in Switzerland and brought the business to California after the repeal of Prohibition.

They used to run a tasting room in Ukiah, but there was nowhere to sell all their products under one roof.

“This location just fell into our lap,” she said. “It’s just a blessing.”

The Weibels make much of their table wine from their 480 acres of vines in Mendocino. But their specialty is in flavored sparkling wines, including almond, peach, raspberry, pomegranate and citron.

The Weibels are among the few California winemakers allowed to have the word “Champagne” on two of their sparkling wine labels. That’s because they were already making the bubbly before 2006, when the wine label law changed to make “Champagne” refer only to sparkling wine made in that region of France.

The decor is comfortable and classy, so visitors can enjoy a tasting, a glass or a bottle.

Medals from years of success at wine competitions in California and around the world are set under glass to form small tabletops ringed with the metal bars that hold wine barrels together.

A long, glass-topped bar is supported by wine barrels lined up in a row. A cup holds dry erase markers so that guests can scrawl messages on the glass.

Tall stools made from recovered wine barrels circle a distressed wood table near the entrance. The plush couches and chairs in the Zsa Zsa Gabor corner were estate sale and thrift store finds covered in new fabrics. Gabor promoted the winery’s Green Hungarian wine in the ’70s.

Curio cabinets hold vintage remake jewelry made by Lisa Hallow, of Stockton, and vintage glassware gathered from yard sales.

The space is available to reserve for small parties or after-work gatherings.

Tasting room manager Judi Baumbach coordinates with other Downtown shops and tasting rooms to promote live music events on the weekends.

“Everyone is like that; everyone refers one another,” she said.

Contact Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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