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Something new: Lodi Grape Festival introduces wine tasting cellar

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:47 pm

Lodi’s reputation as a wine hub is growing far and wide. But until this year, the biggest community event of the year didn’t include any wine tasting opportunities.

“We’ve had tons of requests over the years for wine tasting,” said Grape Festival CEO Mark Armstrong. “People want to know why they can’t come taste wine at the Festival.”

Change has arrived in the form of a new wine cellar, where 23 local wineries will host four wine tasting sessions throughout the weekend.

That includes Van Ruiten Family Winery, who holds the exclusive title of official Grape Festival Winery.

Tasters will pay for tasting tickets upon entry to the area, which can be used at any of the nine booths in the wine cellar. Folks from each winery will be on hand to pour and answer questions about every bottle. Each winery will bring in just two or three varietals. Tasting sessions last for two hours.

A few wineries will be present during every session, but there will be a different mix of wineries each time.

Tom Hoffman, of Oak Ridge Winery, will be pouring Savignon Blanc and Zin Head. As a member of the festival board, he wanted to get involved with the crowds, too.

Estate Crush, known for helping other labels make wine, will be pouring their own varietals on Friday evening.

That includes a newly released 2012 Chardonnay, a 2011 Rose that won Silver in the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition, and Stellina, a 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel that medaled in the same contest.

Ali Colarossi, co-owner of Estate Crush, said the Grape Festival is an iconic part of Lodi history and a great time to showcase local wines.

“Grapes are such an important part of the local economy, and what better time to celebrate that than during harvest.” she said.

The wine cellar will be set up in the shady area between the Grape Pavilion and Burgundy Hall. Look for the white tents, tidy picket fencing and twinkling lights.

For folks looking to sip on a full glass of wine, look for one of three Van Ruiten Family Winery booths.

“We want to make sure the Grape Festival gives people the chance to use the crowd to promote their wines, and we should use it as a chance to promote what we’re known for,” said Armstrong. “We’re trying to get back to what our roots are.”

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