Wine and Roses operators Russ and Kathryn Munson were honored Thursday night for running the Lodi Chamber of Commerce’s business of the year.
Fittingly, the awards gala was held at the Munsons’ restaurant, resort and spa on Turner Road.
Led by entrepreneurs like the Munsons, the tourism industry in San Joaquin County — and across California — is enjoying a boom of sorts. For example, a recent report by Visit Lodi! CEO Nancy Beckman noted that the Downtown Visitor Center had seen a year-over-year increase of 33 percent in visitors. Visit Lodi!’s social media activity is surging. And there are hard dollars backing these encouraging stats: the city’s TOT, or Transient Occupancy Tax, based on hotel room revenues, has increased 11.74 percent in the second quarter of 2014 over the same quarter in 2013.
More and more people are traveling, sipping and munching in California’s tourist communities, and lowering gas prices are sure to keep this trend going.
There is more good news rolling our way: On May 11, the Amgen Tour of California is coming to Lodi. Organizers will announce in a few weeks the race route and where it will end in Lodi. (While the finish line location is being kept a secret for now, we’ve been given a hint: It will not be at Lodi Lake.)
As many as 50,000 visitors will swarm into Lodi for the tour, AKA America’s Greatest Race, the most prestigious bike competition in the world next to the Tour de France. There will be live TV coverage, a global pack of media types, and thousands of fans eager to relish all that Lodi has to offer. “Think about the biggest thing to ever come to Lodi. Now multiply that by ten. That’s what Amgen means to Lodi,” said one local organizer.
Lodi is prepping big-time for the tour’s arrival. Teams of locals are already in place to iron out logistics, marketing, hospitality, and public works (street and road closures will be a priority on race day.)
On an individual level, the Amgen tour will offer us all the chance to witness the thrill of an elite athletic competition. On a community level, it is a chance to showcase all that we’ve built and are building — a charming downtown, unique eateries and wineries, a scenic vineyardscape — on a national, even international, stage.
We were talking to a Lodi fellow this week who runs a thriving business in the wine and grape industry. He said it is important to “prepare to be lucky.”
Well, Lodi has worked very long and hard to establish our wineries, the quality and reputation of our winegrapes, our quaint and inviting downtown.
We have prepared to be lucky, and now good things are coming our way. But it is so important not to grow complacent. As Russ Munson said Thursday night in accepting the chamber’s award, there can be no slowing down, no easing up in the evolution of his first-class resort.
Tourism, driven largely by the wine industry, is an expanding opportunity for us. The Amgen tour can be a milestone experience and event for our community.
We can and should work to make this a resounding, unequivocal success. For some of us, that may mean standing next to the race course and screaming at the top of our lungs as these incredible athletes and their wondrous machines zip past.
For others, it might mean the chance to volunteer to hand out water bottles or set up chairs.
We can all play a role.
As much as we like the phrase, “prepare to be lucky,” there is another phrase we think is fitting now for Lodi: