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
June 20, 2011 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi wine country summer concerts


The Carlos Lopez & Ben Kolber Band stir up the wine lovers during the first of Ripken Vineyards’ Full Moon Events this past June 17

Here comes the sun, summer concerts and glorious wines of Lodi’s wineries…

It’s that time of year again:  wine country summer concerts, and the opportunity to soak in those long, lingering golden sunsets with good food, family, friends and of course, the juicy style of wines for which Lodi is especially known… good times.


Amazing rosato sangria at Ripken's

So mark your calendars, Lodi wine lovers, for the following upcoming can’t-miss events coming up through July (please note: in every venue, outside alcoholic beverages are not allowed, and you are invited to purchase wines by the bottle or glass at each winery):

Fri. June 24 – Big Booty Bob at Lodi Cellar Door – Lodi’s most exquisite, and powerful, wines — those of Michael~David, Van Ruiten, Jessie’s Grove, and (the latest addition) Bokisch Vineyards — are always being poured at this elegantly furnished Downtown Lodi wine bar on historic School St., and as longtime San Joaquin County music and wine lovers know, no one  kicks it like Big Booty Bob & The Backside Kickers — physically impossible to sit still when they’re in the house!  Fee: none.  Time: 7-11 PM.  Phone: 209- 339-4394.

Sat. June 25 – Summer Celebration at Sorelle Winery – If you’ve not yet been to this new, stellar winery at the south end of Lodi on Hwy. 88, on a site recently marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution where John C. Fremont and Kit Carson camped in 1844, after their historic mapping of the wild, wild west, now’s the time!  On this Saturday, the Scott family will offer the American blues and roots style music of Blind to Reason, which you’ll be able to enjoy with Sorelle’s award winning wines (Pinot Grigio and Barbera to die for, Sangiovese and Primitivo that will make you wanna cry), free chair massages by Faith, bocce and vibrant birdlife among the surrounding vines and orchards.  Fee: zero.  Time: 2-6 PM.  Phone: 209-931-4350.

Sat. June 25 – Mumbo Gumbo (and let’s spend the night together) at Jessie’s Grove – This iconic Lodi winery estate is celebrating its ninth year of Groovin’ in the Grove Summer Concerts, and there’s nothing like ’em.  Are you ready to Mumbo Gumbo?  This is big-time good-time music — a potent mix of rock, soul, afropop, zydeco, country, lush balladry and always, irresistably danceable music by these SAMMIES award winning recording artists.  Carignane, Carignane! But wait, there’s more:  new for this year, Jessie’s Grove also invites concert goers to spend the night in The Grove.  Bring your RV, tent, sleeping bag or blanket, spread it over the grass and enjoy the entire night under the Lodi stars.  In the morning, for a small fee, they’re also offering a Brenda Breakfast — prepared by Brenda, of course.  Fee: $23 (Wine Club, $21).  Time: 6:45 PM.  Phone: 209-368-0880


Good times on the lawn at Ripken Vineyards

Fri. July 1 – Neo Hipsters at Lodi Cellar Door – The Neo Hipsters are dedicated to the silky, suave Memphis blues and classic, skin tingling soul of the sixties — hey nineteen, they ain’t!  All them ore reason to get down to this elegant Downtown Lodi wine bar to enjoy the powerful “house wines” of Michael~David, Van Ruiten, Jessie’s Grove, and Bokisch Vineyards — a fab four, if there ever was one.  Fee: zilch.  Time: 8-11 PM.  Phone: 209- 339-4394.

Mon. July 4 – Fourth of July Picnic & Concert at Heritage Oak – Heritage Oak Winery owners Tom and Carmela Hoffman are classicists at heart — their Zinfandels, for instance, the essence of the finely polished, buoyant, elegant style (as opposed to the clumsily rambunctious) — and so they’re planning a classic setting for this great American holiday:  live entertainment by TuneStruck, a barbershop quartet under the spreading old oak tree, which they invite you and your family to enjoy with your own box lunch and those exquisite Heritage Oak wines.  Fee: nada. Time: 12-5 PM.  Phone: 209-986-2763.


Civilized repast atop "Ripken Mountain" (elev. 55 ft.)

Sat. July 9 – Whiskey Dawn at Jessie’s Grove – As the name suggests, Whiskey Dawn is a tight, hot, high octane country band, with the chops to show (they’ve performed with Brad Paisley, Faith Hill, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Clay Walker, Lady Antebellum, and many others); and so if you’re ready to line ’em up with some civilizing glasses of high octane Jessie’s Grove wines, then get your tickets while you can.  Also, for the first time in the nine years of their memorable Groovin’ in the Grove Summer Concerts, the winery also invites you to spend the night in The Grove.  Bring your RV, tent, sleeping bag or blanket, spread it over the grass and enjoy the entire night under the Lodi stars.  In the morning, for a small fee, they’re also offering a Brenda Breakfast (cooked up by Brenda, of course).  Fee: $23 (Wine Club, $21).  Time: 6:45 PM.  Phone: 209-368-0880.

Fri. July 15 – Full Moon & Joey V at Ripken Vineyards & Winery – Call on your neighbors to put down their labors, and bring your blanket and lawn chairs to soak in the sun sinking into the Ripken family’s sea of lush vines, and then welcome the beautiful big moon as you enjoy the seriously fun, catchy rhythms of Joey V and Jambalaya, as they resurrect the funkedelicizing jazz and R&B of the giants of The City that Care Forgot (Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Ernie K-Doe, Dave Bartholomew and the like).  For sustenance, you’re invited to pack your own picnic, or partake of the astounding wood oven pizzas of Guantonio’s Wood Fired CuisineFee: gratisTime: 6-9 PM.  Phone: 209-367-9463.


The Ripkens celebrate summer at their redwood hewn table



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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