7 places to Drink Eat & Sleep In Lodi

by | Jun 3, 2019 | Travel | 0 comments

Welcome to LODI, a hidden gem in Northern California’s wine country. We all know Lodi has some of the best wines in the world. But what about the food and lodging? This charming and quaint town is also home to delicious restaurants, and cozy accommodations.

Lodi, Illinois, or California?

Lodi’s rich history can be traced back to 1869. The city was founded by settlers from Illinois and was originally named Mokelumne, after the nearby river. Lodi has since flourished into the vibrant city it is today, thanks in part to the support of its community. The city’s original settlers presumably chose the name Lodi for their new settlement. The city’s official name was changed to Lodi on March 21, 1874. Lodi was named the fourth township in San Joaquin County 14 years later.

Lodi is no longer a wine area that springs to mind as a top wine destination, much alone for visitors planning an overnight stay. Nonetheless, it remains a popular destination for wine and art experts. It provides outstanding value, a distinct personality, and a sense of civic pride.

Because Lodi is not the most gorgeous city around, you may be tempted to continue driving toward Sonoma. Be patient, because the main settlement is rather nice, and you’ll be spending most of your time there.

Make a point of seeing the nine murals painted on buildings across town by a group of painters known as the 100 Walldogs. Each mural reflects a different facet of Lodi’s history and was created to bring the community together as the city celebrated its 100th birthday. Likewise, many of the local galleries pay respect to the past.

Nothing beats stretching one’s legs after a long trip at a vineyard restaurant, bakery, and bar rooted in history, situated amid the square…

Now, let’s look at the seven must-see places in Lodi.

DANCING FOX RESTAURANT AND TASTING ROOM

Gregg and Colleen Lewis decided to buy a century-old brick building on School Street in 2007 to have their winery and restaurant. Since 2009, the restaurant has offered American and European fare, a wine bar, and baked goods. The wood-burning oven is used for the best selections from the menu, and everything is made in-house.

Do order …

THE SAUSAGE PLATTER: These house-made sausages, wood-burning oven pretzels, sauerkraut and IPA mustard, and a pairing with their home-produced beer “Commoner’s Touch” are a must-try.

GERMAN POTATO SALAD: This salad is so unique that you should never pass it up. It’s as if you’re in Germany or Austria, eating a Viennese Schnitzel, and this is the side of it.

I’m so excited to tell you why their wines are so important! Most of their wines come from their Estate vineyards, which are all certified as sustainable in the Lodi appellation. The grapes are harvested and brought to the winery, which is located in the old Icehouse building just by the corner of Locust and Main Street in the Downtown area of Lodi. According to those that know some of its history, the building was started as the Livery Stables in the 1880s and later became an icehouse. The 15,000 sq.ft. the old brick building was purchased in 2010 and restored to house the winery and, more recently, the Brewery.

For a real treat, schedule a tour organized by the Winemaker/owner Gregg Lewis by sending him an email (gregg@dancingfoxwinery.com) Tour fee is $25 per person (minimum 4 people paid in advance) which includes a personal tour of the icehouse facility seeing both the beer and winemaking areas, as well as a few barrel tastings. Then proceeding over a few blocks away to the Dancing Fox Restaurant and Tasting Room, for a wine or beer tasting paired with samples of their in-house made bread. The bread cultures are created from their vineyard Petite Sirah grapes.

DANCING FOX RESTAURANT & TASTING ROOM
203 School Street
Lodi, CA 95240
(209) 366-2634

DANCING WINERY AND BREWERY
203 School Street
Lodi, CA 95240
(209) 366-2634

Long before Lodi became a prominent wine location, another fruit dominated the fields completely. Aside from the infinite acres of vineyards, one of the benefits is being able to see the stunning acres of watermelon farms. Lodi’s watermelon reputation was so well-known in the 1880s that it was dubbed the unofficial “Watermelon Capital of the Country.” 3,000 carloads of watermelons were sent from Lodi to adjacent regions in 1886 alone. Even more remarkable is that they were produced without irrigation!

Long before Lodi became a prominent wine location, another fruit dominated the fields completely. Aside from the infinite acres of vineyards, one of the benefits is being able to see the stunning acres of watermelon farms. Lodi’s watermelon reputation was so well-known in the 1880s that it was dubbed the unofficial “Watermelon Capital of the Country.” 3,000 carloads of watermelons were sent from Lodi to adjacent regions in 1886 alone. Even more remarkable is that they were produced without irrigation!

I enjoy having control over my destiny, and that’s why I prefer not to go on tours. That said, I know that some people do enjoy them, and I respect that. However, when it comes to choosing my travel destination, I prefer to go somewhere that I know I’ll love. For me, that place is Old Vine Zinfandel.

LVVR SPARKLING CELLARS

We were surprised to find an old, abandoned-looking building when we followed our Google Maps directions. It looked like something out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western! This building was once a popular cooperative brandy distillery back in the 1940s-1970s. It’s recently been bought by a single owner who seems to be trying to bring it back to its former glory by adding more tasting rooms, stores, and a gastropub. We’ll keep you updated on any further developments!

Full Article & Interview with LVVR SPARKLING CELLARS

I’d be remiss if we went to the Central Valley without first determining what all the fuss about LODI OLD VINE ZINFANDEL is all about. My standard option for everyone is…

KLINKER-BRICK WINERY


Source: Klinker-Brick Winery

Isn’t it great that Steve and Lori Felten kept the tradition of planting “Old Vine” Zinfandel alive? Their forefathers established the first of their 15 vineyard blocks back in the late 1800s. However, for almost a century, their grapes were diverted to other vineyards. In the year 2000, Steve and Lori, together with their daughter Farrah, started brewing their own wine. These rich, with a mosaic of flavors and aromatic wines, are consistently great and have amassed a ton of awards. 

There’s a lovely picnic area with tables and barrel-stave seats in the back. If they are presenting a vertical tasting of the Old Ghost Zinfandel, which represents the single best lots of old vine zinfandel they produce each year and sells out immediately after each release, it would be a feast for our palate. For further information, contact the winery. Old Ghost Zinfandel wines have come from rugged old vines dating back to the Roaring ’20s and some much older over the past eight years.

Klinker Brick Winery
15887 N. Alpine Road, Lodi, CA 95240
Phone: (209) 333-1845
E-mail: info@klinkerbrickwinery.com

Next on my agenda for a truly varietal experience, and conveniently close to Klinker-Brick Winery, is;

PRIE VINEYARDS

PRIE is a Lodi-based family-owned winery. John and Lisa Gash, the owners, love having a hand in every part of crafting their exceptional wines. Lisa, an artist, has her outstanding works displayed around the stylish tasting room. Observing the locals going in and out for their daily dose is a testimonial to their wines! What a refreshing change from the typical suspects like Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, which they do produce. The meticulous attention to detail yields high-quality wines that speak for themselves.

15628 N Alpine Rd, Lodi, CA 95240
Phone: 209.400.3889
Email: geeky@priewinery.com

It’s check-in time, and we drive over to our overnight home, where we were transported to “Mayberry” straight out of an Andy Griffith Show.”

To get the full sense of what it might have been to live Lodi style at the turn of the century, in comfort, is an essential stay;

HILL HOUSE BED AND BREAKFAST


Source: Lodi Hill House Bed and Breakfast

The hosts, sisters Nancy Schumer and Jane Lea, will warmly welcome you to this dramatic Queen Anne Victorian Bed and Breakfast Landmark. The rooms are as authentic as they come, plush, colorful, and decorated, as well as spacious and clean.


Source: Lodi Hill House Bed and Breakfast

The Hill House, completed in 1901, was the residence of George and Mary Hill. George Hill was an Eastern United States migrant, a notable Lodi businessman and former president of the American Tobacco Company. He had holdings in a variety of businesses, including diamond sales, optometrists, watch repair, and even the sale of China picture frames. As the downtown area grew, George’s grandson Maurice decided to relocate the Hill House from its original location in 1948 by chopping it in half! The six-block maneuver was a game changer.

Address:
|826 South Church Street
Lodi, CA 95240
(775) 401-1479

Nothing felt better after settling in and renewing ourselves than smelling fresh after a long day. It’s time to relax and enjoy the colorful downtown for cocktails and dinner. My trips with Babito are usually about discovering and having fun, so don’t take us too seriously! With that said, if you share our sentiment, we came across…..

WEIBEL FAMILY VINEYARDS

This crowded tasting area amid the town square is not for serious wines. Except for the wine, this is more in the style of New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. This next picture should say it all:

Our bubbly hostess (no pun intended, given the wine menu is titled “Bubbles”) offers us a glass and colored markers. The menu is divided into two sections: sparkling wines in a variety of tastes, which they will gladly mix into slush upon request. The opposite side of the menu has their “Dry” wines, which I’d define as “Late Harvest.” I would have had to wait a long time for the first glass if it hadn’t been for a patron who politely advised me that I needed to write my preferences on the glass countertop with markers.

This will explain everything…

Fred E. Weibel, Sr. learned traditional winemaking techniques in his native Switzerland. … In the 1940s, the Weibel family offered sweet and fortified wines, and in the 1960s, they introduced drier wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. Weibel pioneered a “zippy” tiny wine called the Green Hungarian in 1959, which quickly became popular among young wine lovers.

I appreciate The Weibel Family for keeping the tradition alive, which is the common thread for the Lodi community. The Weibel Family Tasting Room is lighthearted, youthful, and unpretentious.

9 N School St.
Lodi, CA 95240
(209) 370-6013

 

ROSEWOOD BAR AND GRILL


Source: Rose Wood Grill

This tastefully informal modern restaurant, which opened in 2002, features Classic American food prepared by talented and charming Chef Ian Bens. The entire menu changes regularly to present seasonal meals produced from locally and organically grown ingredients, sustainable fish, and free-range meat. Despite its popularity, it is still possible to have an intimate chat in its romantic setting. 

Full Article & Interview with Chef Ian Bens

Anyone visiting small wine villages sees that nothing stays open late (9 p.m. is pushing it), so it’s off to dinner. If I had to make one statement about this restaurant, it would be that it can compete with any eating experience found in a major city like Los Angeles, Manhattan, or San Francisco!

 


Source: San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum

Located within Micke Grove Regional Park, displays the region’s rich history, from the Yokuts and Miwok to Captain Charles Weber (founder of Stockton and the area’s first farmer) to the creation of modern agriculture. The Museum contains eight exhibition buildings, four historic houses such as the Charles Weber residence (1847), the Calaveras School (1866), room dioramas of Weber family furnishings, a children’s gallery, and vast displays of hand tools and agricultural equipment. Don’t forget to stop by the Gift Shop on your way out! The San Joaquin County Historical Society & Museum also presents the annual Festival of Trees Christmas event in December. For more information about upcoming events, go visit the official website of the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum.

11793 N. Micke Grove Rd.
Lodi, CA  95240
Phone: 209-331-2055
Fax: 209-331-2057
Email: info@sanjoaquinhistory.org

Contrary to John Fogerty’s song, visiting Lodi is a bountiful privilege because of its incredible preservation, vineyards, architecture, local food culture, and honorable citizens past and present.

 

Ciao! Hope you enjoyed the article about 7 places to Drink Eat & Sleep in Lodi
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