If you love unique wines and sweet chocolate concoctions, but can’t spend two full days visiting more than 40 wineries to get your fix, this year’s Wine & Chocolate Weekend is offering a new admission feature.
For the first time in its 23-year existence, festival-goers can purchase one-day tickets to the event.
In the past, Wine & Chocolate Weekend has required a purchase of tickets for both days, but guests this year will be allowed to purchase tickets for Sunday only.
Weekend tickets are still $65 in advance and $75 at the door, while Sunday-only tickets will be $45.
Another first for the annual event is a series of kick-offs held by select wineries on the Friday before the festival starts. Acquiesce Winery and Vineyards, St. Amant Winery, McCay Cellars, M2 Wines and D’Art Wines wineries will offer special dinners, wine tastings and dessert samplings for a limited number of people at each venue. Unfortunately, ticket sales to the Friday night events closed on Jan. 23.
On Saturday, wine and chocolate lovers and venture out to 44 wineries, starting a 11 a.m., to sample the best in both drink and sweet and savory treats.
One lucky event attendee will be awarded the “Golden Ticket” with their chocolate treat, winning a ZinFest Getaway, which includes a stay at a local hotel during ZinFest weekend in May.
Other wineries will be offering up prizes as well.
McCay Cellars will have a “pull the cork” game during the event for a chance to win gift certificates and winery merchandise.
“What we’ll do is pull a cork out of a bag with someone’s name on it, and then they can win some sort of prize,” tasting room and wine club manager Cindy Adams said.
For chocolate treats, Linda McCay will be offering up her own Zinfandel-infused cherry chocolate brownies.
“It’s our way of introducing chocolate into our wines,” Adams said. “Linda makes them, and they are a specialty of hers.”
D’Art Wines will be serving its chocolate chili, a long-time favorite that is sure to be both sweet and spicy.
Monette Keil, the winery’s tasting room associate, said the dish is a simple cocoa recipe that Helen and David Dart have have stuck with since first participating in the festival.
“A lot of people are going to go to other wineries and have something sweet and straight chocolate,” Keil said. “We just wanted to stand out and offer something that is a little different and non-traditional, and give people a heartier meal than what they might find at the other wineries that weekend.”
In addition to the chocolate chili, d’Art will offer some barrel tastings and samples of its Love Lodi port blend.
Bokisch Vineyards will have a Spanish theme for the weekend, offering fresh, hot churros with thick, Spanish-style hot chocolate. In addition, guests can sample Spanish cheeses, sliced chorizo and olives stuffed with manchego.
Jessie’s Grove Winery will have a chocolate fountain for guests to enjoy along with wine slushies while they browse artisan jewelry, woodwork and leather products for sale from craft makers. Attendees will also be able to enjoy live music from local DJ and artist ibthedj.
If you feel like dancing, head over to LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards, where a DJ will be on hand to provide music while you learn how to line dance from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Then you can enjoy brie-chocolate-basil paninis for snacks, and Valerie Coe’s western-themed art for viewing and purchase.
While many wineries will offer chocolate in the form of simple treats, drinks or brownies, PRIE winery will be offering cookies, with a bar to decorate your own. You’ll also have the opportunity to take photos of your day.
Another site to take photos of your fun will be at Scotto’s Wine and Cider in Downtown Lodi. The King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley, will be on hand for snapshots while you enjoy chocolate cherry bombs and popcorn and hot chocolate bar.
Downtown cornerstone The Dancing Fox will be sampling a variety of treats, including Fox Delight ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies. You’ll also be able to snack on pizza bites and foccacia.
The 2020 Wine & Chocolate Weekend is Feb. 7 and 8, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. For more information, visit www.lodiwineandchocolate.com.