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November 13, 2007

Days of wine and roses

Last week I headed to Lodi in the Sacramento Valley. The Lodi wine region is located 100 miles east of San Francisco and south of Sacramento. I had already enjoyed going to Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Temecula. With this visit though, I had a more "inside" view of wine country since I was there with a bunch of winos--serious wine enthuaists and those in the industry--the California Association of Winegrape Growers.
We stayed at a super gorgeous inn appropriately named Wine and Roses (I kept humming the theme from the 60s film Days of Wine and Roses, but I think I'm among the few that actually know that Academy Award winning song). The spa/inn made me wish I was there for romantic reasons and not business, but alas I still had fun exploring the visitor center and touring their grape vines, where I tried a merlot and voigner grape. I doubt I was supposed to pluck these grapes, but I couldn't resist and I was all alone so... they reminded me of sweet concord grapes, because they have that chewey sack inside and big seeds. The Lodi region annually grows 600,000 tons of grapes and comprises 18% of California's total winegrape production- more than Napa and Sonoma Counties combined. There are five major wineries in the area: Robert Mondavi Woodbridge, Turner Road Vintners, Sutter Home Winery, Bear Creak Winery and Oak Ridge Vineyards.
 
Luckily, the weather was beautiful and both warmer and clearer than L.A., which was perfect for when we visited Bear Creek Winery (not open to the public), Lange Twins Winery & Vineyards, and even to an olive orchard, Corto Olive Co., which gave us a couple of bottles.

Apparently, wine and olive grow well in the same temperatures and the olive oil industry is going up and up. U.S. is also the 4th largest consumer of olive oil behind Italy, Greece and Spain. We were also told that Extra Virgin olive oil here isn't up to the same standards of Europe, we basically get their weak stuff. Also it seems that some wine growers are even moving to growing olives too.

Listening to the family owned vineyard owners discuss their estates and operations from grape to glass, I marveled at their business minds and realized how big business a winery could be. I also began to wish that I grew up on a winery.

When we were leaving the following day, we couldn't resist doing another wine and champagne flute tastings at the airport's Vino Volo, despite the fact that it was only 10 a.m., lol.
Wine tasting is so much fun, but not everyone is lucky to be close to a noted wine region.

News: Further proof that God is a Yankees fan, Pope to Visit Ground Zero and Celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium o:-)

5 comments

  1. Sounds like a great time while you were ...stuck in Lodi again.... :)

    Sorry, couldn't resist. LOL

    ~SL

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  2. That sounds awesome. I've always wanted to do a wine tasting and I hear Lodi is just the place to start (that and Santa Barbara).

    And there's nothing wrong with drinking wine at 10 am, haha.

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  3. Wine tasting at 10am using your chai tea latte as a palate cleanser is priceless!

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  4. I loved your story. My husband and I went on a wine tasting tour on our honeymoon in North Carolina at the Biltmore Estates. Ok, so its not California but it was wine and it was fun. We also found ourselves drinking at 11am.

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