April events in Lodi – the finest time of the season
“April is the cruellest month,” T.S. Eliot famously wrote. True, for many of us the middle of April can be cruel, as in “taxing.” Otherwise, what can be wrong about days that are not too warm and not too cold; when the sap is rising, flowers are blooming, birds are bursting in song, and promising green buds are popping on the grapevines?
April in the Lodi American Viticultural Area usually means vigorously renewed activity in our wineries and vineyards. For instance, Acquiesce Winery – virtually the only winery in Lodi that doesn’t specialize in red wines (instead, just refreshingly crisp, puristic whites, and a bodaciously fruity yet dry rosé) – has just recently flung open its tasting room doors for business, after a long, dark, silent winter.
That said, Acquiesce Winery will hold a special Rhone Awakening! event on Saturday, April 13 (1-4 PM); when they officially unveil the 2012 vintage of their Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Rosé, with white and pink wine-friendly delectables from Chef Emily’s barbecue grill. You can sign up on this Eventbrite page ($10/person; complimentary to Acquiesce club members) — what a way to kick off a Lodi Spring!
This coming Thursday, April 11, Alebrijes Mexican Bistro chef/owner Ruben Larrazolo and Viñedos Aurora winemaker Gerardo Espinosa open up their jointly owned, long awaited Viñedos Aurora at Pamplona Tapas wine bar (14 W. Oak St.). If you have a hankering for sensual rhythms of Latin music, and palate slakingly dry, minerally, lemony fresh, Lodi grown Albariño with gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic sauce), almejas con chorizo (clams sautéed with chorizo), or paella del mar (saffroned bomba rice with shrimp, clams and octopus) – in tapas-sized portions, $6 to $10 each – then this cool, new, sophisticated Downtown Lodi hang-out should be the place for you. Hours of operation: Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 AM to 7 PM, or whenever, says Mr. Espinosa, “the party ends.”
Heritage Oak Winery winemaker/owners Tom and Carmela Hoffman know Spring as well as anyone, there in their bucolic vineyard estate on the east side of Lodi, right along the beach-like banks of the Mokelumne River (a favorite launching point for canoe and kayak enthusiasts, gliding down to Lodi Lake Park). Also on April 13 (12:30 PM), the Hoffmans are hosting a Yoga in the Vineyards workshop. They invite you to bring your own mat and let Spring’s fragrant air flow through your veins and bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem. There is a $40 fee, which includes a food, chocolate and Heritage Oak wine tasting. To sign up, please contact Heritage Oak’s guest certified Therapeutic Flow Yoga instructor Allison Boyd CYI, RD directly at 209.351.4735..
If that’s not enough, Saturday, April 13 is also the day of Downtown Lodi’s April in ParisLodi Wine Stroll, taking place at 6 to 9 PM. The charmingly brick paver-stoned, historic main drag of Lodi positively sings God Bless America (if not a Mellencampian Ain’t That America); and on this night, you can march freely up and down the six or so small blocks of Our Town with your wine glass proudly in hand, going from a total of 25 tasting rooms and boutique shops where the wines of 25 local wineries are being poured alongside complimentary hors d’oeuvres and other special offerings. Tickets ($30; or $40 at the event) are available online at this Lodi Chamber of Commerce page.
Musical fruit lovers, please mark your calendars for a return to Heritage Oak Winery on Saturday, April 20, when the Hoffmans host a bonafide Chili Cookoff & Concert, which starts at 2 PM. The best chili chefs from Lodi (and beyond!) will converge at this riverside winery on this day to vie for culinary honors. Of course, with this all-American dish (last we heard) there must be some all-American music: Liz Schuler & Lexington Avenue will perform their unique brand of blues, bluegrass, folk and whatever-gets-the-fingers-snapping and the fine wines a’pourin’. There will be a $20 cover charge, but the entire family is welcome to enjoy this April happening. To reserve your spot, please see Heritage Oak’s Chili Cookoff Registration Form.
Another rite of Lodi Spring passage: Harmony Wynelands winery kicks off its 2013 season of Silent Movie Night on Friday, April 26 at 7:30 PM. This is no ordinary Silent Movie event, mind you, because it is accompanied by the real, live music coming out of Harmony Wynelands’ gigantic (1,500 pipes – literally the size of a barn!) Original San Francisco Castro Theatre Pipe Organ, played by pipe organ specialist Dave Moreno. Harmony Wynelands owners Bob and Linda Hartzell advise that you RSVP at least 10 days in advance through harmonywynelands.com, because seats for this are very limited ($12 admission; $10 for winery club members) for this incredible auditory and visual experience.
Finally, April in Lodi culminates in the annual Spring of the Vine tasting and dinner, taking place Sunday, April 28 at the exquisitely romantique, three-star Wine & Roses Hotel & Spa. Indeed, “Spring of the Vine,” or Les Printemps des Vins, is a French inspired celebration of Spring, but only as this premier Lodi Wine Country destination can do it: 24 of Lodi’s finest vignerons showing off their newest releases (whites, pinks and soft reds – many them fresh off the 2012 harvest, bottled only within the past month) alongside an astounding array of Spring-fresh salads and other edibles served on family style platters; in harmony with the musical sounds of laughter, sweet nothings, and glasses of apéritifs being raised in toast after toast as the Spring-bright day turns into a golden afternoon followed by a long, blue sunset and starry Lodi night.
Les Printemps des Vins will also feature the electrifying acoustic music of Ike & Martin during the 2-4 PM wine tasting out on Wine & Roses’ lush lawn, followed by a 6-9 PM dinner in the Wine & Roses Garden Ballroom, where you can continue to mix, mingle and share your Spring thoughts with the winegrowers themselves. Seating is limited ($35; or $45 at the event), so please don’t hesitate to reserve your seat at the communal table by contacting email@example.com or calling 209.371.6117.