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Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

London
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Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

Hi everyone,

We're a couple from the UK who are coming to California for 2 weeks in September. Starting in San Fran and driving over to Lake Tahoe, we thought it would be fun to stop in a wine region for a couple of nights. Having looked at Napa, it seems like it might not fit with us too well - expensive, pretentious (?) and must have bookings well in advance for most wineries. We're much more casual, would like to rent bikes to cycle around and then stop when we feel like it to visit a winery or cafe. Having done a bit of research, Lodi seems to fit the bill a bit better (we are not at all bothered about Napa as a "brand", just as happy tasting an 80% wine from Lodi at half the price of a 90% wine from Napa for example).

I have a few questions which I can't find good answers to -

1) We will be there mid week, Tues 6/Weds 7 Sept - will there be a good number of wineries open? Do we have to make reservations?

2) What is the average price of a tour / tasting?

3) Where is the best place to rent bikes?

4) Is it really a good alternative to Napa for 2 people who are happy to try something a little different?

Thanks!!

14 replies to this topic
San Jose, California
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1. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

Lodi makes some good wines. I'm not sure about the feasibility of biking to wineries there, but hopefully others can chime in on that. In CA, we have no shortage of wine regions, so if for whatever reason, Lodi turns out not to work for you, there are tons of other options.

San Diego
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2. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

Sorry I haven't been to that area but there are many many wine regions in California besides Napa!! That's just one that foreign visitors have heard about. Here's another near your route

http://amadorwine.com/

If you decide to go south closer to the coast here's another:

http://www.pasowine.com/wineries/

We have enjoyed tasting in both of those areas .

Lodi, California
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3. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

Good morning from Lodi Icedgems,

Just about 7:00 AM here so once I'm up, get to work and had coffee I'll answer your post lol. (I have a friend that has a bike shop here so I'll check in with him about renting bikes)

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4. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

I think Lodi produces some amazing Old Vine Zins! www.lodiwine.com is an informative website. The tasting fees are rarely over $10 and most fees are refunded with a purchase. We loved tasting at Abundance and Jesse's Grove. Don't miss a stop at The Visitor's Center where you can taste and puck up lots of brochures and maps. Wine & Roses an excellent place for a meal in this area. 🍷🍷🍷

Fortaleza, CE
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5. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

Lodi is generally flat, but can also be hot, even in September. I lived in Sacramento for 9 years. For non-pretentious wineries, I quite enjoyed some in the Sierra foothills, and did bike to a few with a Sierra Club group years ago. Amador County has several amadorwine.com/wineries/location-winery-map/ Placer County maybe even closer to the route to Tahoe. http://www.placerwine.com/ Both can be hilly and very warm, however. But area is more scenic and historic IMHO. Contact specific wineries re visiting.

Edited: 10 June 2016, 22:35
Fortaleza, CE
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6. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

I meant more historic and scenic than Lodi IMHO. Wineries may be closer together in Lodi.

Carmel, California
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7. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

I second the suggestion of the Sierra Foothills. This is a pretty area that is often overlooked and has cute Gold Rush era towns. Wines and tasting fees in this area are generally inexpensive. A couple of additional links http://calaveraswines.org/ and http://eldoradowines.org/

Lodi, California
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8. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

Icedgems,

Okay, had my coffee and checked around.

1) We will be there mid week, Tues 6/Weds 7 Sept - will there be a good number of wineries open? Do we have to make reservations?

There will be many wineries open during the week but some are only open on weekends. First stop would be either the Lodi Visitors Center downtown www.visitlodi.com or the Lodi Wine and Visitors Center www.lodiwine.com (The Lodi Wine and Visitors Center is located on the grounds of the Wine and Roses Hotel, a place I'd highly recommend staying at along with an excellent restaurant the Towne House onsite) You don't need reservations at any of our tasting rooms, if they're open just show up!

2) What is the average price of a tour / tasting?

$5-$10 for tasting with most of the tasting rooms giving you credit back if you purchase a bottle.

3) Where is the best place to rent bikes?

You can rent bikes downtown at http://www.downtownbicycleslodi.com/

The tasting rooms in Lodi are spread out over quite a large area, some are clustered together so you could ride between them, however, some of the roads are heavily trafficked by farm equipment, pickups etc and there isn't much of a bike lane along the edges of the roads. The bike shop does have a map of a route you can ride if you'd like.

4) Is it really a good alternative to Napa for 2 people who are happy to try something a little different?

Of course it is! Lodi is prime grape growing country. It gets hot during the day, we can get temperatures in the summer and fall into the low 100's (38C) but our advantage is our location. We are due east of the San Francisco Bay area and typically get a cooling evening breeze that drops the temperatures into the low 60's (17C) The grapes love it.

Lodi grows the majority of the nations Zinfandel grapes and are famous for their Old Vine Zins with some vineyards over 100 years old. Winemakers have discovered that the region also produces some amazing Spanish varietals, the Albarino's here are fantastic (I'd highly recommend Harney Lane and Oak Farms Albarino's) At most of the tasting rooms the people behind the bar are the owners and winemakers themselves.

Have Fun!

Napa, CA
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9. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

If you want an alternative to Napa where you can bike around to the wineries and where the daytime temps will be 20 degrees cooler than Lodi, you should consider the town of Sonoma.

London
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10. Re: Lodi wine region as a non-pretentious alternative to Napa?

Thank you all for your help. Really appreciate you taking the time. I am now researching amador county as an alternative / addition to Lodi. Can't wait to visit California!

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