Note: Due to Covid-19 restrictions, please check individual websites for schedules and reservations.
There’s a reason for this.
Not only are the hot mediterranean days in the northern/central California AVA perfect for growing robust grapes like Zinfandel or Primitivo, but the cooler nights from the Sacramento Delta and San Francisco Bay’s sea air extend the ripening season, letting Zinfandel grapes from Lodi grow to be full of bold-flavored juice.
While many may think of Lodi as one AVA, there are in fact six different microclimates in the area. Wines grown in East Lodi, West Lodi, or nearer to the Mokelumne River (that runs from central Sierra Nevada into Lodi Lake, and ultimately into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta) all showcase vastly different flavor profiles.
No matter where in Lodi wineries reside, it is a region of farmers. At their core, these vineyard owners consider themselves to be family farmers, growing grapes and other fruits and vegetables that love the central California climate.
With over 100,000 acres of wine grapes and more than 80 wineries, grapes are the area’s number one export, but both fruit and nuts are also important crops to the region. Driving through the vineyards on Harney Lane in East Lodi or on Highway 12 in West Lodi, you’ll see farmers with tables of the latest produce, and mid May, it was all about cherries. It also wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to have a tractor driving down the middle of Kettleman Road, allowing visitors a little extra time to enjoy the scenery between wine tastings.
Insider Lodi wine tasting tip: make sure to bring a cooler when you head out for a stretch of wine tasting so you can keep your Zinfandel bottles you purchase cool, so they don’t heat up (and potentially get ruined) in your trunk.
Lodi Wine Visitors Center
2545 W Turner Rd, Lodi
For visitors new to the Lodi wine region, the Wine Visitor Center is the perfect first stop of any wine tasting tour. Guests can enjoy wines from across the Lodi Appellation and then plan their trip around which ones they enjoy the most. Right next door, they have a walk in the vineyards showcasing vines from the most planted grapes from the region, including head-trained Zinfandel vines.
Harney Lane Winery
9010 East Harney Lane, Lodi, CA 95240
The fifth-generation family-owned winery specializes in Cabernet and Zinfandel. They have an indoor tasting room and an outdoor garden they call “the forest.” Guests can enjoy wine flights or wine by the glass/bottle, while sitting outside with friends. Groups of six or more, or anyone who wants to take their Grape To Glass Tour requires a reservation.
7889 E Harney Ln, Lodi
The family-owned winery is perfectly set up for weddings and events. They also have an outdoor tasting patio where guests can enjoy wine flights or wine by the bottle/glass. The winery features rhone-style wines and unique varietals, with a few Zinfandels.
16388 Alpine Rd, Lodi
The barn tasting room is open on Fridays, and throughout the weekend where visitors can savor flights coupled with “small bites,’ relax by the scenic pond and sip a glass of wine or enjoy a picnic. Don’t skip their Friday Night Wine Down event with live music and food trucks on-site every Friday evening.
LoCA Blueberry Farm
5288 W Kile Rd, Lodi
Open May 20th. For 6-8 weeks, you can pick your own blueberries at their East Lodi Farm! Great for all ages.
100B S Sacramento St, Lodi
The downtown wine tasting room will be moving locations in the future, but the laid back atmosphere will stay the same. Guests can enjoy acoustic music on Thursday Nights after the downtown Lodi Farmers Market, along with artisan picnic supplies from the ‘McCay Market’ and a series of dry, well-balanced Zinfandels, highlighting the trueness of each vineyard they pick from.
Jeremy Wine Company
6 W Pine St, Lodi
The downtown tasting room is right next door to Inspire Coffee, so visitors can grab a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the afternoon.
Dancing Fox Winery & Brewery
203 S School St., Lodi
Grab lunch at the Dancing Fox, a family-run Lodi brewery and winery (with a larger focus on craft beer). Grab a glass of their old vine Zin with a Tri-Tip Chili Melt or the Taratata, a Brick Oven Pizza with house made fennel sausage, salami, black olives, bell peppers, mozzarella, and tomato sauce.
Michael David Winery
4580 CA-12, Lodi
While many wineries in Lodi are 21 and over, Michael David Winery encourages kids of all ages to stop by. For first-time visitors to Lodi, Michael David winery provides an experience of a restaurant, farmstand, event center, and wine tasting room. They feature Lodi Zinfandel, as well as Zinfandel from nearby Amador County and Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. Guests can belly up to their outdoor tasting bar for wine flights, or grab a glass or bottle with friends and sit out by the gardens, the lake, or even the playground.
Oak Farm Vineyards
23627 N Devries Rd., Lodi
The elegant tasting room at Oak Farms Vineyards showcases high-end food and wine pairings, along with several Zinfandels. Their Covered Patio space is available on a first-come, first serve basis for glass and bottle purchases, or you can make a reservation for a Seated Tasting Experience or Historical Legacy Tour.
Wine & Roses
2505 W Turner Rd., Lodi
Visit Towne House Restaurant for dinner and weekend brunch and Towne Corner Cafe & Market for breakfast or lunch, both at the famous Wine & Roses hotel just west of downtown Lodi. The hotel is one of the most romantic places in all of Lodi; it is the perfect spot for a Wine Country getaway or girls’ trip looking to enjoy the spa features.
Many nights, dinner at Towne House Restaurant includes acoustic music from a local musician—and you don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy dinner or brunch on the weekends.
The café out front features in-house baked pastries, sandwiches, and various picnic supplies for a day of wine tasting in Lodi. Definitely a great stop for picking up a cup of coffee and charcuterie supplies before you start wine tasting. (It just so happens to be next door to the Lodi Wine Visitors Center, too!)
Whether you are looking for farm-to-table food experiences, a night stay at a romantic destination, or some balanced and easy-to-drink Zinfandel wines, Lodi is the destination for you. Get started with your Zinfandel Trail experience by creating a custom wine-tasting itinerary in Lodi today!
Shana Bull is a wine writer, children’s book author, and digital marketing educator based in the Bay Area. She is passionate about low-alcohol wines, elaborate cheese boards, and traveling on food adventures with her husband and redheaded son, as well as storytelling for wine brands. She can be found on Instagram/Twitter at @sharayray, or at http://shanabull.com.