The owners of a Downtown Lodi tasting room want to build their own winery, the company that owns a Guild Avenue winery wants to build a tasting room and a Lodi Avenue restaurant will be revitalized. These wining and dining upgrades are part of Lodi’s vision to make the city a wine tasting tourist destination, Lodi Planning Commission staff say.
The commission approved the three projects at a meeting Wednesday night. As a result, the Lodi tally for wineries is up to 56, with 14 tasting rooms in Downtown Lodi alone.
Since 2008, Rick and Erin Taylor have made wine under the Riaza Wines label in a garage and at Bray Vineyards in Amador County. The couple opened a tasting room on Elm Street, where they sell their Spanish varietal wines, in October 2012.
The Taylors purchased an industrial space on East Vine Street, where they plan to produce 200 cases of wine annually. It has been used for storage in the past but sat vacant for two years. The site will be for production only, and all winery waste will be removed within 24 hours.
“We’re really excited to bring this back here to Lodi, and this is the perfect space for us to do that,” said Erin Taylor, who lives in Lodi with her family.
The commission approved the wine production application with no dissent. Commissioners Nick Jones and Randy Heinitz were both absent.
Judi Holly, of Weibel Family Vineyards, applied to open a tasting room at 13 N. School St., which once housed Sea Salt Cottage. The site borders wine tasting bar cellardoor and an alley.
The company produces wine on Guild Avenue in Lodi using grapes from Mendocino County, and have had a presence in Lodi since 1996. The label focuses on sparkling wines, but also sells still varietals.
“We’re looking to make a bigger, better presence and be a part of promoting Downtown and the city of Lodi,” said Holly.
Commission chairman Dave Kirsten recused himself from the decision because he owns property nearby. The application was approved unanimously.
A Lodi Avenue restaurant has been empty for four months since Andre’s Cafe closed its doors. Melissa Ng, of Two Chefs Events, said she and her husband Walter Ng have run a catering business out of Stockton for 12 years and want to grow their company. The couple purchased the restaurant and came before the planning commission to request a license to sell beer and wine.
“We’re looking to branch out and open a bistro,” Melissa Ng said. But the Avenue Plaza location they selected is slated as an over-concentrated area for wine and beer sales. Neighboring restaurants include Avenue Grill, which serves alcohol, and Bon Appetit, which does not.
City staff reminded the commission that the restaurant will be selling food for more than 50 percent of its profit, and alcohol sold with food doesn’t tend to cause policing problems.
Zin Bistro could open as soon as mid-September. It will serve a lunch menu of burgers and sandwiches, and a slightly more upscale dinner menu of steak, lamb and shrimp scampi.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.