Just got the pictures loaded from Lodi. There are a lot, so kick back, get a glass of wine (It's not a work day for most tomorrow) and enjoy. As I post, I decided I needed a beverage to enjoy and here it is, one of our purchases from today:
It even got a Peabody two paws up
I will touch more on this wine later.
We started off at Jewel Winery
Here we met Rustin, who is the Tasting Room Assistant Manager and Sam Whitmore (who we'll talk about in a minute), the Head Guru. Apparently, Jewel is one of the oldest wineries in Lodi, in fact, their main building that does alot of the magic is from 1901
This other building next to it used to be a distillery, but its not operational anymore. Sam said that at one time, brandys and other spirits were made there.
We spent some time in their tasting room, and Rustin talking us into the their wine club, which honestly can't be beat...6 times a year, $15 each time, you get one of their "library" wines and one of their everyday wines. The library wines are in the $25-39 range. Not a bad deal. I couldn't resist and signed up for their "gold club" where you get 6 bottles every 2 months for $43.98 plus tax and $10 shipping. Check out their site above for more information.
After that, Sam then took us on a tour, but not with out his faithful friend, Iggy.
Iggy is a rescue dog who Sam found and seems to have no problem hanging out with riff raff like ourselves
Sam, not only is the GM at Jewel, but a few years ago, decided to take on his own project and label. It's Whitmore Wine Company
. One of the things that I really liked about Sam's new wines is not only the fun catchy names, but the fact that he supports children and animal charities. That alone gives him an A+ in my book.
After talking with Sam for a while, you can totally tell the passion that he has for making good wine. He's really looked into his demo's and knows who he wants to appeal to. I couldn't help but notice that his wine has screw caps
You can't see them in this picture, but I asked him about that. (We also got our bottles signed by him, which is very cool) He said that most people feel that the romance of a bottle of wine is opening the bottle,(which I totally agree with) in his opinion, the romance is what is in the bottle, and that can be ruined when you smell, for example, "barnyard" because the bottle is corked, and that is not romantic. I guess I can agree with that. He also said that after spending some time in France, that it is conceivable that someday we'll see high end wines in bags or boxes, since they are easier to store, and when you have large families that drink wine, they just make sense.
We also learned some interesting information from Sam and others today, that sort of answer a question from Smithy regarding the state of Lodi grapes. Well, hold on to your glasses, because apparently, some of the wine makers in Napa and Sonoma rely on Lodi to supply their grapes. Lodi growers have just in the last few years started becoming winemakers. Sam had mentioned that the winemakers sometimes have a tough time in Lodi, due to inexperience, and not having enough resources at their hands, so their wines from one year to another can range in consistency. Lodi, as I have known is wonderful for their Zinfandel, but they also have great Cabernet Sauvignon crops and other big reds as well, and not to exlude some whites from the delta areas as well. So when you shell out $60 bucks for a Silver Oak (Which we are planning on opening tomorrow), it could very well be Lodi grapes. Interesting.
I am going to send Sam the link to this blog, so please, feel free to correct anything I may have inaccurately said.
Here's some more pictures from their cellars and of Sam giving us the lowdown, and some barrel samples that did not suck!
Lastly, the other thing really cool about this place is their table wine. It's called, "Saturday Red" Here is an article
about it. You buy the jug for $4.99 and then can take it to the winery for a refill for $2.99.
It's pretty damn tasty.
After all this great fun and information, we headed off to Vino Piazza
. Watch the video, it's quick and gives you a good feel of what this place is. First here are some landscape pictures, of what a beautiful day it was:
This is right across the street.
another across the street.
Here are some shots of the buildings themselves. We only found 3-4 wineries open today, which worked out fine, we needed to get home safely.
Unfortunately, today was almost like a ghost town. Kara, Mark's sister who came with us has been there before when there was a festival, or that kind of thing going on and said it was a lot of fun. We still had fun. We met Gus, who is the wine grower for Stama Winery
Gus's family has been growing grapes in Greece for many generations, and he has for the last 22 years in Lodi. For the last two years he's (well, someone else is, but if he doesn't approve, it doesn't get bottled.) started making his own wine, as you saw earlier, it got a Peabody two paws up. We got that Cab for $70/case. Here are a couple more pics of Gus' wine.
His tasting room
This building used to house a big winery, as the video earlier said. I thought these pipes would make a cool picture, which in the circle, which was a window, is a shot of the mural on the outside wall, in another room, which in my opinion was very cool.
One more word about Gus. He was so nice. After being in his tasting room a bit, we decided to have a snack. We brought some cheeses and my "crackers" that were made out of sunflower seeds, thick and thin
and water. Kara and Mark seemed to like them, I did if they had the cheese. We brought our "picnic ware" with us and as Gus walked by, he said, "Do you need some wine to go with that?", we say, "sure", so he tells Mark to bring in the glasses and he filled them up with one of his best Cabs. Gus does not suck!
We also visited
and tasted a few wines. Alot of people were raving about a butterscotch wine. This is the place owned by the guy who started the whole Vino Piazza. Mark took a ton of pictures of the skeletons that were in the video, so I won't post them again here.
After that, it was getting late, we, well some of us (not naming names), were getting buzzed and it was time to go home. We had a great time!
I just finished off a bowl of chili, a glass of wine and we may head over on foot to the Raven for a couple of after dinner cocktails. I hope tonight finds everyone well, and please stay tuned for tomorrow.
Tomorrow's plans. We are going to make a potato/mushroom thing out of Bon Appetit. We will also do some food for a homeless shelter (more info on that later). Then we'll (Mark, Me, Riley and Lucy) head to my dad's house in Martinez, about 1 1/2 hours away for dinner. Everything there will be documented, hopefully Dad has some wireless connection and I can upload tomorrow, if not, Friday when we get back. I can promise, some really good Napa (although maybe Lodi now) wine, good food and who knows what else. Stay tuned.......