Letters from Lodi

An insightful and objective look at viticulture and winemaking from the Lodi
Appellation and the growers and vintners behind these crafts. Told from the
perspective of multi-award winning wine journalist, Randy Caparoso.

Randy Caparoso
February 10, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Bourgeoning L-O-V-E during Lodi's 2020 Wine & Chocolate Weekend

Lodi Wine & Chocolate lovers enjoying Lodi's ultra-natural and fresh style of wines at Oak Farm Vineyards

L is for the way you look at me
O is the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore can

- Nat King Cole

Love was in the air in more than one way during Lodi's 2020 Wine & Chocolate celebration this past weekend (February 8-9). The weather was conducive — in fact, perfection... crystal clear, mildly breezy, neither warm nor chilly — to a plethora of sweet nothings whispered between couples, young, old, and in-between, and laughter shared among friends tee-topped "wine-drinking teams."

Good wine, if we may be so bold to suggest, is also a conduit to the vibrations known as L-O-V-E, and everywhere we went we were told in no uncertain terms exactly why that is: Because Lodi produces a softer, gentle style of wine — whether white, red or rosy pink — that is also teeming with a natural sense of freshness in fruit expressions. Wines that just about everyone L-O-V-E loves.

At Michael David Winery's cellar door in Downtown Lodi, one of the many tee-topped "wine tasting teams" out on the Wine & Chocolate Weekend

For our part, we like to explain that this is just Lodi being, well, Lodi — the region's warm, and never excessively hot or cold, Mediterranean climate and classic grape-friendly soils are simply conducive to this style of wine. It's natural.

And Lodi Wine & Chocolate weekenders know this: After 23 years, this February event is as popular as ever. Lodi Winegrape Commission marketing maven Jenny Heitman tells us that over 4,300 tickets for the entire weekend of events were sold, and another 1,200 tickets went out to Sunday-only enthusiasts. As Bong Joon-ho, last night's Oscar winner for Best Picture and Best Director, put it: "Thank you, I will drink until next morning."

We, on the other hand, awakened early this morning to more soberly select our favorite images from 2020's Wine & Chocolate Weekend. Enjoy!

This Lodi wine lover was so ready to begin her Wine & Chocolate Weekend

Oak Farm Vineyards all decked out at the start of Wine & Chocolate Weekend

Sips of Oak Farm Vineyard's wonderfully fresh and buoyant dry rosé

Good times, good friends enjoying Wine & Chocolate Weekend at Oak Farm Vineyards

Another wine-tasting "team" meeting up under Oak Farm Vineyards' beautiful "Rosé" garland of roses

"Chocolate shots" exquisitely paired with m2 Winery's lush and vivid Purple Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon

Amazing demonstration and sampling of pure chocolate by Cru Chocolate (one of the "grand cru" producers of artisanal chocolates) at m2 Winery

At m2 Winery, a close-up of the cacao pods and raw nibs going into Cru Chocolates

The amiable hospitality crew of m2 Winery

Back in his office during the Wine & Chocolate Weekend buzz, m2 Winery winemaker/owner Layne Montgomery is hard at work doing what he does (whatever that is)

These Wine & Chocolate lovers were thrilled to be personally greeted at LangeTwins Family Winery by co-owner, and 4th generation winegrower, Randy Lange

Line dancing lessons among the barrels and tanks in LangeTwins Family Winery

Love is in the air and luscious wines at Jessie's Grove's 32-acre grove of ancient valley oaks

Indulging in the decadent chocolate fountain at Jessie's Grove Winery

In Jessie's Grove's valley oak grove, a couple spontaneously breaks into a dance of pure joy

This gang was all here in Jessie's Grove's 32-acre valley oak grove, where the Wine & Chocolate festivities were held

Tasting two types of Port-style reds straight from the barrels at Jessie's Grove estate

"To the Moon and Back" at Jessie's Grove estate

Another shot of our happy couple at Jessie's Grove, dancing to the end of love

Feelin' the irresistible groove of this rocking, jazzy band at Oak Farm Vineyards

Living the life of Lodi wines and vines during Wine & Chocolate Weekend at Oak Farm Vineyards

Ladies loving the soft, spicy wines and crystal fresh and blue Wine & Chocolate Weekend day in Lodi's rolling Clements Hills appellation at Bokisch Vineyards' Terra Alta Vineyard

No hurry, no worries at Bokisch Vineyards' Terra Alta Vineyard

Wine & Roses Hotel owner Kathryn Munson (right) enjoying the refreshing wines and clear Wine & Chocolate Weekend day with family/friends at Bokisch Vineyards' Terra Alta Vineyard

Family playing among the vines under an ancient blue oak in Bokisch Vineyards' Terra Alta Vineyard

"Love" memos at m2 Winery

Hanging out around the old wine press at Housley's Century Oak Winery

Break for boxed lunches at m2 Winery's vineyard estate

Camping out under the "W" at Downtown Lodi's Weibel Family Vineyards tasting room

Slow dancing at Oak Farm Vineyards

Enjoying the end of Wine & Chocolate Weekend at McCay Cellars' Downtown Lodi patio

Appropriately attired Wine & Chocolate Weekend lover at McCay Cellars' Downtown Lodi tasting room

The amazing ladies (and the family behind) McCay Cellars at the end of another Lodi Wine & Chocolate day

Lodi Wine & Chocolate lovers at McCay Cellars in Downtown Lodi

Vintage VW at the multi-winery Woodbridge Uncorked tasting room in Downtown Woodbridge

The Wine & Chocolate Weekend scene at Woodbridge's Woodbridge Uncorked tasting room

Wine & Chocolate Weekend enthusiasts at Woodbridge Uncorked

The "W.T.F" tasting team arrives at m2 Winery

The long and seemingly endless winter pruning going on throughout Lodi wine country during Wine & Chocolate Weekend

Representing a fifth and sixth generation of Lodi winegrowers (since the 1860s!), Todd Maley and his son show off their handcrafted Maley Bros. wines at the Woodbridge Uncorked tasting room

The Wine & Chocolate Weekend action in and out of Michael David Winery's cellar door "tasting gallery" in Downtown Lodi

Wine & Chocolate Weekend love at Weibel Family Vineyards' Downtown Lodi tasting room

A live band rocks the crowd at Van Ruiten Family Vineyards Winery

Wine & Chocolate enthusiasts hanging out by the vintage lowriders lined up at Van Ruiten Family Vineyards winery

The festive Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend crowd gravitating to Van Ruiten Family Vineyards winery

Feelin' the love in the air at Jessie's Grove Winery's historic estate

Enjoying the fresh air and refreshingly dry rosé in front of the historic colonial DeVries home (built in 1876) at the Oak Farm Vineyards estate

A natural "tunnel of love" of overhanging unpruned canes in m2 Winery estate during Lodi's 2020 Wine & Chocolate Weekend




Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

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