It all started about seven years ago. A group of us Canadians were sitting on a dock by a lake on a nice summer day when a friend showed up with a bottle of 7 Deadly Zins. None of us had heard of this wine before but it was an instant hit.
Many bottles were enjoyed that summer. While we had never heard of 7 Deadly Zins, we had also never heard much about the place it came from, Lodi — of course, outside of the famous CCR song.
So my wife and I did a little research and decided we had to go visit this place, which to our surprise we discovered was actually a major wine and grape producing area.
In May 2007, we made our first trip to Lodi, and it was love at first sight. The scenery, the food, the wine, but above all, the people. Wonderful, warm and friendly. Excited and passionate about their wine and their city, and eager to share the taste of the product. The family feel of the many wineries was very welcoming.
We stayed a week and noticed many signs for an event called Zinfest that had occurred the week before we arrived. We decided we had to come back the following year, which we did. We were the only Canadians there, feeling nervous and out of place, but we were welcomed at the Talus Wine table during the Vintners Grill with open arms.
We came home and told our friends about the event, and the following year there were eight Canadians at the dinner and for the rest of the weekend.
This year, eight of us returned again. It was a wonderful night of outstanding food, wine, entertainment and socializing. Many folks were surprised that a group of Canadians would travel so far just to come to this Lodi event. Everyone was friendly and welcoming throughout the evening.
When people ask my wife and me why we go to Lodi every year, we tell them it's the people. It's the amazing staff at Michael~David Winery whose wines started it all for us. Their warmth and hospitality, outstanding wines and excellent service is indicative of all the wineries in the area.
We have visited most every winery in the area, including Jesse's Grove, M2, d'Art, Borra and our friends at Stama and Vino Piazza. Watts, Van Ruiten, Macchia and St. Amant are just a few of the others we have dropped in on year after year. And there is always a constant theme. They are always happy to see you and make you feel welcome.
Courtney and the staff at the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, who helped accommodate the Canadian contingent and work so hard to make Zinfest such a success, are outstanding. We stay every year at the beautiful Wine and Roses and eat a first-class dinner in their restaurant after the Saturday wine tasting. The entire Lodi experience has been the same for four years now: absolutely wonderful.
We have travelled to other counties around Lodi; El Dorado, Calaveras, and Amador, to name a few. All are beautiful areas with great wines and people. We have visited Sonoma and the Russian River and Alexander Valleys, and of course, we have gone to Napa.
Friends back in Canada often ask us about our trips and were we go. We always tell them the same thing. We tell them they must go down to Lodi and see the area, taste the wine, enjoy the scenery, and meet the people. They always say, "What about Napa?" We usually reply that Napa is nice, and they should see it once, but Lodi feels like home, and you will want to go back again and again.
When they ask us what kind of wine we drink or ask what they should buy for themselves or as a gift, the answer is simple. We just tell them to look for Lodi on the label. You cannot go wrong.
We will be back to Lodi again this year for First Sip and again next year for Zinfest. And we will continue to sip fine Lodi-appellation wine at home in the meantime.
It is special to have the wonderful taste of Lodi on the tongue, and the warmth of its fine people in our hearts. Thank you for making us feel welcome and at home. We appreciate it, year after year!
Warren and Lisa Lemcke are residents of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.