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Wine and Chocolate Weekend in Lodi filled with food, fun and a golden ticket

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Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:00 pm

When it started 12 years ago, the Wine and Chocolate Weekend in Lodi had about seven participating wineries. This year, the event, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, touts 40 participating venues.

But it's not just vino and chocolate that your ticket will get you.

"We're going to have all kinds of great things," said Kyle Lerner, co-owner of Harney Lane Winery. "Our flagship is going to be chocolate chili. It's chili with cocoa in it."

Lerner said he and the rest of the crew at Harney Lane will have plenty of food, fun and surprises for those in attendance.

Other wineries are promising barbecue, live music, education presentations, tours and art shows. Though the flat economy might cause some to avoid such festivities, coordinators are seeing sales numbers on track with the past two years.

Stuart Spencer, the program manager of the Lodi Woodbridge Winegrape Commission said they expect 3,000 to 3,200 attendees.

During the First Sip wine tasting event in September, Lerner said his fledgling winery - with the tasting room still under construction - saw 500 participants come by. He expects 800 to 1,000 for the Wine and Chocolate Weekend.

Participating wineries

Abundance Vineyards
Barsetti Vineyards
Berghold Winery
Boitano Winery
Bokisch Vineyards at Clements Ridge
Borra Winery
Chocoholics Divine Desserts
Clements Ridge
Cosentino's Crystal Valley Cellars
DFV Wines at Clements Ridge d'Art Wines
E2 Family Winery
Gatos Locos of Vine Hill at Clements Ridge
Grands Amis Winery
Harmony Wynelands Estate Winery
Harney Lane Winery
Heritage Oak Winery
Housley's Century Oak Winery
Jessie's Grove Winery
Jewel Collection Winery
LangeTwins Winery and Vineyards
Lodi Wine & Visitor Center
The Lucas Winery m2 Wines
Mokelumne Glen Vineyards
Oak Ridge Winery
Olde Lockford Winery
Omega Cellars
Pasos Vineyards
Peirano Estate Vineyards
Peltier Station
Ripken Vineyards & Winery
Stama Winery
Van Ruiten Family Winery
Vino Con Brio vMv Winery
Watts Winery
Woodbridge Uncorked
Woodbridge Winery
Source: Lodi Woodbridge Winegrape Commission

And though weather promises to be chilly with a chance of rain both days, venues promise plenty of warm food for those passing through.

There will also be a chance to learn. At the Lucas Winery on Davis Road in Lodi, owner David Lucas will be giving a presentation regarding the production of the winery's straw wine, which he learned to make in Northern Italy.

At Chocoholics chocolate factory in Clements, which has been involved with the event for three years, visitors will be able to go on a tour to see how the edible half of the event is made.

For those who want more interactive fun in their Cabernet and cocoa experience, Ripken Vineyards and Winery will allow you to decorate and place a secret message in your own bottle of their wine. Not only that, they'll be inviting revelers to make s'mores with them over burning grapevines.

No matter which venues you choose to visit, it's an excellent way to spend Valentine's Day, according to Spencer.

"It happens to fall on Valentine's Day this year, and so, because of that, it's a great way to spend the day instead of fighting the crowds, trying to get a reservation at a restaurant that evening," Spencer said.

There is also, perhaps, one more compelling reason to indulge in the event: Gold.

"Every attendee gets a commemorative chocolate bar, and one has a golden ticket," Spencer said. That ticket is worth a Lodi wine country getaway, including a stay at Wine and Roses.

Contact Business Editor Marc Lutz at marcl@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 9:53 am on Fri, Feb 13, 2009.


    ct, don't think for a minute that those attendees could actually be closet alcoholics and addicts. You can bet the real alcoholics will be there, too and won't be hiding it. I wouldn't anyone even leave Lodi this weekend, and don't travel Turner Road, Highway 12 or 88 unless you absolutely have to. I'd expect the Highway Patrol and County Sheriff to have heightened awareness patrols in this area Saturday and Sunday. I'm sure our Lodi men in blue have been told hands off. You'd think with Ms. Beckman's "expertise" she could for once plan an event that doesn't require drinking alcohol and then operating a motor vehicle. Munson should be happy. His $300 a night motel rooms should be full.

  • posted at 8:09 am on Thu, Feb 12, 2009.


    Wow Loadeye- you do need to get your facts straight. How is "ms.beckman" involved in this?Don't assume that all attendees are irresponsible drunks.

  • posted at 2:45 pm on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    Jon Bjork, how much wine do you drink? Your article in today's paper shows you must be one helluva sailor. A few glasses of red here, more at three more wineries and more with chocolate? Wow! And still standing? And driving?

  • posted at 2:09 pm on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    Sam, thank you for a great idea, but I couldn't charge anyone for a ride home. And I certainly wouldn't want to be that designated driver who transfers one who has had too much to imbibe to the next watering hole after they're already intoxicated. And thank God for my years of sobriety. I'm an alcoholic, as are most of the people I work and volunteer with, and we know the innocent results of casual drinking and then getting behind the wheel. Apparently Lodi police don't, because they always look the other way during these type of drinking and driving events. And lodiresident, the city of Lodi is funding some of this event, otherwise the visitor center and Ms. Beckman wouldn't be coordinating and handling tickets. And sam, I don't abhor the Munson's, only the fact that they play the subsidy game with taxpayers' monies and get "welfare" money from council to subsidize their restaurant downtown and send business to Wine&Roses that could've been solicited to use the great unused facilities at Hutchins. Some people are like that, already having more than their share, yet always wanting more but not willing to risk their own money to get it. GREED!

  • posted at 11:18 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    Loadeye, this could be a great opprotunity. I know you do not drink. Be a driver. Charge so much per person... you could make a fortune with these wine events.I love wine, but refuse to drive even after one glass. I also love Russ and Kathy Munson, and a lot of my friends are winery owners. I also LOVE chocolate.I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable chocolatey-wine event. Have fun, but be safe. Get a designated driver.

  • posted at 10:17 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    T&C: Lodi is not the sponsor for this event. Please get your facts straight before judging. Sad, normally I enjoy your posts, but you happen to be off base here.Loadeye: Have you tried any of the Lodi wines? Do you even drink wine? Several are quite excellent, and the majority of our local wineries have earned many, many medals by placing their "awful, bitter, putrid grape juice" up for professional judgement. I'm proud to let people know that I'm a native Lodian - from the Zinfandel capitol of the world (even though zin is not my favorite).Ultimately, Lodi would be a LOT worse off in this economy and in general if we didn't have a wine industry to employ 1000's of locals while attracting out-of-towners and the influx of money they bring. Pretty smart to invest in Lodi's reputation - we will all benefit in the end.

  • posted at 8:56 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    With 40 participating wineries, why didn't anyone plan this well enough for them to pony up the funds for designated drivers and free shuttle buses? I'd be offended if I had to pay a couple of dollars each time I wanted to go elsewhere. Is that our city funding money that's giving away that free stay at Russ Munson's Wine&Roses? I know that's the way you good ol' boys take care of one another. Good job!

  • posted at 6:51 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    Is the city of Lodi paying for any of this, directly or indirectly, through the visitors' center or out of the general fund slush money? I hope not, since many of these wineries are county.

  • posted at 6:46 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    I'm certainly hoping that with these DUI and maximum enforcement by local police,sheriff's and highway patrol,that there will be extra patrols from the Sheriff and Highway Patrol enforcing those DUI regulations on and around Turner Road and Highway12&88 between I-5 and the Lockeford-Clements area.It's time Lodi stops sponsoring and/or encouraging these events that require a person to operate a motor vehicle from winery to winery to get buzzed.Why else would one go wine tasting?Do you think any of those participants would drink that awful,bitter,putrid grape juice if it didn't produce a high?I don't think so either.I don't begrudge anyone who chooses to drink,as long as it's controlled and doesn't require the operation of a motor vehicle to make it to your next wine stop.I have never read nor heard of Lodi police arresting an impaired driver at any of these uncalled for DUI parties in the Lodi area.Has anyone?Wonder why?There are some who get set up,like the way Hansen and the LPD did to then activist Ms. Mounce at the Farmers Market one year.LPD, how about a DUI sting on Turner&Lower Sacramento just west of Wine&Roses saturday and Sunday night? Or will you offend the good ol' boys?

  • posted at 4:04 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    Did any of you notice that designated drivers are free at this event? There also is a shuttle service for a fee offered by Wine Country Shuttle, but responsible adults will secure a designated driver and support our local wineries..

  • posted at 3:53 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    I sure hope the Lodi PD is out on them back roads this weekend.... surely a lot of loose drivers are going to be out there.No transportation provided for this event? Ludicrous.

  • posted at 2:28 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    I am not against the basic idea. HOWEVER: the wineries should have chipped in for bus/shuttle service so the participants could safely travel to and from the wineries. THEN the LPD should have a check point right at the parking lots where these services start and end.

  • posted at 2:13 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    Lodi wants to Lay Off "Furlough employess, causing them even more financial harm", yet they happily sponsor a event for those who drink "Alcohol and eat Chocolate"? Sounds like a good plan to me!

  • posted at 1:14 am on Wed, Feb 11, 2009.


    That is just what we need; more people drinking and driving! It is bad enough as it is on weekends with people drinking and driving, trying to find these Wineries, slamming on their brakes, pulling out in front of others and making u-turns on narrow roads. But hey; it is ok to drink and drive as long as you are drinking wine!



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