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 14, 2019 | Randy Caparoso

Huge diversity of wines and love, love, love rules during Lodi's 2019 Wine & Chocolate Weekend

2019 Lodi Wine & Chocolate festivities at m2 Wines

Happy Valentine’s Day from Lodi wine country!

For our photographic memories of this past weekend’s 22nd Annual Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend (February 9-10, 2019), we asked local online marketing specialist Frances Siria – who applies her multifaceted talents to her own Signature Online Marketing company – to memorialize some of her favorite moments.

Signature Online Marketing's Frances Siria

Here is what Frances had to share with us, along with her vivid images...

Love was in the air all during the 2019 Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend. Wine lovers from all over flocked to loveable Lodi to celebrate their romance with Lodi Wine. Whether you were there and you want to reminisce or you missed it, take heart, we have some photo highlights of the event for you to savor. 

Good times and love in the air at McCay Cellars' Downtown Lodi tasting room

We chased away the rain for most of the prime tasting hours. The dark clouds and a Saturday downpour did not dampen anyone's spirits.

Starting off at Jessie's Grove Winery on the west side of town, we found tents set up for outdoor tastings, and fun, lively vendor booths in full swing. The fan favorite (besides the winery's vaunted wines, made from Lodi's oldest ancient vines)? Jessie’s Grove’s ever-popular chocolate fountain. What a way to begin!

Just-pruned naked vines, seen everywhere you go in Lodi wine country during the month of February

At Oak Farm Vineyards, an ominously overcast sky could not diminish the celebratory feeling in the air. In fact, the big, puffy clouds quickly gave way to the sheer pleasures of Oak Farm's deliciously fresh, finely balanced wines, plus... whiskey – that is to say, Whiskey Kiss, Oak Farm’s live band, which brightened everyone's spirit, while whetting our appetities for more adventurous Lodi wines, of which we soon found aplenty at our subsequent stops.

Whiskey Kiss rocking away the dark clouds at Oak Farm Vineyards

When we got to St. Jorge Winery, the clouds began to break, and the sun was peeking out. Lodi is one of the few California wine regions where you find the winery owners (St. Jorge’s George and Jenise Vierra) as well as winemaker on hand to personally pour the wines and take all the time in the world to chat with each guest. News flash: we also found out that the folks at St. Jorge – who farm their own, authentic Portuguese grapes – will soon be offering a new Port Club (highlighted by preview tastings of their rare and exotic Tinta Cão Port), so stay tuned for that!

All about the juice at St. Jorge Winery

While fun-loving crowds were everywhere, they especially seemed to flock to m2 Wines. To fuel the energy, this open-air winery plopped among a sea of vines offered barbecued pulled pork sandwiches in a variety of flavors. There was a “Wall of Love” set up for anyone to post Valentine messages to their sweet-someones, and there were a lot of these heart shaped notes. There was even a rare sighting of a pink “vineyard flamingo,” humorously plopped down in the water accumulated below the estate vines, residuals from Lodi’s recent heavy rains (still, welcome after so many years of dry winters and stressful droughts).

Lips were sealed at m2 Wines

At Consumnes River Farm, Lodi Wine & Chocolate lovers found the perfect place to unwind in a “countryside” setting. While a solo guitarist strummed soothing tunes, they had a fire pit going, around which you could enjoy their award-winning wines. The owner and winemaker were also on hand to enthusiastically share their creations, along with some chocolate treats, as well as a tasting of olive oils from their own olive trees and balsamic vinegars bottled under their Consumnes River Farms brand (the latter products, highly recommended!).

Hearts on fire at Consumnes River Farm

At Macchia Wines, we found a good sized crowd settling in, as if they had found their “spot” (or “macchia”) for the day. We found everything a Lodi Wine & Chocolate lover would want at Macchia: good food, live music, happy wine lovers lounging around an outdoor fireplace, and plenty of places to sit and relax while sampling Macchia’s full range of famously intense wines. It was the sheer warmth of the place that drew us in and enhanced our experience of Lodi grown wines.

Deliciously intense and luscious Late Harvest Zinfandel at Macchia Wines

For the first time, Klinker Brick Winery held its Wine & Chocolate Weekend festivities at an off-site location, creating a wonderful tasting experience in the Lodi Vintners barrel room on Woodbridge Rd. Doing so, they were able to fully accommodate their guests with better parking and a larger room – an absolute necessity for a winery that is so popular and widely acclaimed! – complete with a live band, vendors and multiple pouring stations. More space, more wines and chocolates, and more fun all around. We saw that it even drew in the biking crowd!

Wine & Chocolate lover outside Downtown Lodi's Cellar Door

Downtown Lodi, however, seemed to be where the “party” gravitated later in the afternoon. Groups of friends and lovers gathered for the convenience of being able to walk from tasting room to tasting room, coupled with the large diversity of wines – something for which Lodi is becoming increasingly known – offered at each Downtown venue.

Lodi grown sparkling wines poured by several wineries during Wine & Chocolate Weekend

At the Weibel Family Tasting Room on N. School St., everything seemed to sparkle and shine – from the wines (Weibel specializes in bubbly) to the “good times” shared by friends and the electric feeling of romance in the air.

Barrel samples of Syrah futures offered at Downtown Lodi's McCay Cellars tasting room

Next to Downtown Lodi’s historic railroad station at McCay Cellars, we found a bevy of beautiful, natural style wines that fit in perfectly with the McCay family’s renowned hospitality. Owners Mike and Linda McCay, of course, were on hand to personally greet us, and offer their startling range of wines. Everything feels like “family” at McCay Cellars, not to mention their outdoor patio adorned with succulents, welcoming guests looking for a little outdoor comfort in which to enjoy the McCays' adventurous styles of wine.

A toast to love and wine at Downtown Lodis Weibel Family Tasting Room

At Dancing Fox Winery & Brewery, as usual, the food was a big hit. They offered a delicious array of appetizers and treats to compliment their fun variety of wines. 

It's all good at Michael David Winery's Cellar Door

But when it comes to the ultimate Downtown Lodi experience, Michael David Winery’s Cellar Door wine bar is still the “original.” As Lodi Wine & Chocolate lovers discovered, all good wine roads lead here. Their knowledgeable staff, as always, was extremely attentive, and the lively atmosphere only seemed to enhance our weekend experience of love, love, love!

And a few more of Frances Siria's vivid images from Lodi's 2019 Wine & Chocolate Weekend...

Chocolate covered strawberries at St. Jorge Winery

Soulful strumming at Consumnes River Farm

Wine, chocolate and cycling enthusiasts outside Klinker Brick's Wine & Chocolate celebration

Chocolate treats at Downtown Lodi's Cellar Door

Taking it easy on McCay Cellars' outdoor succulent patio

Hanging loose at m2 Wines

Specimen of +100-year-old Zinfandel vine hanging over McCay Cellars tasting room

Bright sun peeking out from behind puffy clouds at m2 Wines

Corks and official Lodi Wine & Chocolate Weekend stemless glasses at McCay Cellars

"The Love Wall" at m2 Wines

Freakshow moment at Michael David Winery's Cellar Door

Flamingo sighting at m2 Wines estate

Enjoying life and Lodi wines at Downtown Lodi's Weibel Family Tasting Room

Wintering vines and historic Devries home in Oak Farm Vineyards

Another sip of Michael David's Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon

Here's to more days of wine, roses and love in Lodi wine country!




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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