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
April 3, 2024 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi's spring Wine Festival is your yearly opportunity to taste the latest handcraft releases grown in America's largest winegrowing region

Inside the historic, barrel-shaped Ole Mettler Grape Pavilion at the Lodi Grape Festival.

Each spring since 1980, the Lodi Grape Festival has been holding an early April wine festival on its fairgrounds. It is always the Lodi region's first large wine tasting event of the year.

This year, the 2024 Lodi Wine Festival takes place this coming Saturday, April 6. As always, it is held in the historic Ole Mettler Grape Pavilion, a ribbed wooden showroom built in 1949 that makes you think you're in the inside of a gigantic wine barrel. Very Germanic... very "Lodi!"

The recent bud break in Lodi's fabled old vine vineyards.

Spring, as you probably noticed, has definitely sprung in California wine country. Heavy rains have subsided, and this year Mother Nature is promising a bright and clear weekend with highs in an exceedingly pleasant low 60°s.

This is also the time of year when local winemakers are just itching to show off their latest wines, many of them bottled just over the past two or three months. The 2024 Lodi Wine Festival will feature the latest releases of no less than 40 wineries (about half of Lodi's existing bonds), showing over 200 different wines. 

Panels from the expansive mural painted by John Garth (1960) depicting Spring, Summer and Autumn in Lodi wine country, on the walls of the Lodi Grape Festival's Ole Mettler Grape Pavilion.

The Lodi appellation, in case you haven't noticed, is also becoming better and better known for its white wines and rosés—almost all of the latter produced in light and refreshing bone dry styles, from over a dozen different black skinned grapes. 

Lodi, after all, is traditionally known for its lush and round red wines—grown in easily the largest wine region in America (more acreage than Sonoma and Napa, or the entire states of Washington and Oregon, combined!). Therefore, local wineries have a choice of numerous grapes from which they can craft dry rosés as well as a few blanc de noir ("white from black") style wines, which they do... and you can experience them first at next Saturday's Lodi Wine Festival!

Olive trees—a plant that has adapted as easily as wine grapes to Lodi's Mediterranean climate—in the Mokelumne River AVA's historic Church Block vineyard.

There will also be olive oil tastings offered by 5 of Lodi's specialty producers, as well as artisan craft booths, a good number of food vendors and live music throughout.

Attendance is limited, but at this writing there are still tickets available for the Grand Tasting taking place between 2:00 and 5:00 PM. Tickets ($50 in advance, $60 at door). Your entry also includes a commemorative wine glass.

Dry Lodi-grown rosé in commemorative Lodi Grape Festival glass. Lodi Grape Festival.

As longtime Lodians know, since 1937 the Lodi Grape Festival—located at 413 E. Lockeford St.—has served as a non-profit 501(c)5 Association established to promote agriculture and agricultural products of San Joaquin County and to offer diverse forms of agriculture education. Under a contractual agreement with San Joaquin County, the Association produces an annual spring wine show as well as a three-day Lodi Grape and Harvest Fair in the fall of each year.

Thinking about visiting Lodi in an RV? The Lodi Grape Festival grounds also offers RV parking (including overnight parking for a very low fee) for vehicles or trailers of virtually any size. Just contact the Lodi Grape Festival to make a reservation.

Designated driver tickets are also available online or at the door. For more information, visit the Lodi Wine Festival Facebook page.

Lodi wine lovers at the Lodi Grape Festival. Lodi Grape Festival.




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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