Lodi and Amador wineries
I plan to spend a few days next week exploring the wine country around Lodi and Amador. Would really appreciate some guidance (too many wineries, only 3 dAys). If it's any help we really like zin and syrah. And of course let me know if there are any sure-fire restaurants then wife and I have to visit
Went out to Lodi to visit Oak Grove. I liked all but one of the ten or so red wines we tasted (they weren't pouring any whites), and the one I didn't like wasn't that bad, which is pretty much the opposite of my usual experience at California wineries. One was the best Port-style Zin I've had, delicious but at $30 / 375ml not competitive with real Port. I bought a case of the OZV and a mixed case of a few of the other reds and some whites to try.
The visitor center (part of the same complex as Wine & Roses) is a good place to start, you can get a map and taste the day's selection of wines. I really liked the Jeff Runquist Touriga, but their tasting room turns out to be in Shenandoah.
The bartender at the visitor center recommended Jessie's Grove. Walked into the tasting room and they were playing drinking games. Ugh. Skipped it.
Went to Harney Lane because we were curious to try their Tempranillo. They have some great fruit but I didn't think the wines were very well-made. They were out of their Albariño, said it would be released next week. They sell to lots of other wineries, I'd look out for those.
Bokisch will be at the cellardoor tasting room starting next weekend.
I picked up a 2005 Oak Ridge OZV Zinfandel at Corti Bros. a while back and finally got around to trying it. Relatively low alcohol for a Zin (13.95%, current release is 13.4%), balanced, old-school. I'm curious to visit the winery and try some more.
They claim to be the oldest winery in Lodi. Seems like they produce wine under a number of different brand names:
I just received a bottle of 2007 Rumplestilt Zin from The Dancing Fox winery as a gift, and I was very impressed. It was well extracted, complex, balanced (not overly tannic) and ready to drink; I'm sure it will age well for fiveish years if you must.
The ironically hilarious aspect to this find is the packaging - the label and back description are totally cutesy and completely uninformative to a wine lover. I would never have bought this without tasting first. If all of the wines are this good, the owner needs to be flogged into improving the packaging.
Unfortunately the web site is just as annoying:
At least it's not smothered in disruptive flash animations :-).
ChrisG, did you dine at Wine and Roses? We had a lovely lunch there before doing some wine tasting in Lodi. This was our first visit to the area. Our meal at Wine and Roses was so good! The hotel setting is beautiful. I had the Pasta Carbonerra which was rich and creamy, I had a glass of Old Vine zin which was very good. Our server was so gracious, she also brought over a taste of another Zin for us to try since the winery was closed that day. I found a new fave place in Wine and Roses! :)
Jessie's Grove was a highlight of a Lodi wine run earlier this year- I don't believe they do a Syrah, but the zins (particularly Westwind) and Carignane were quite good.
Convivial, bordering on rowdy tasting room crowd with generous staff when we were there.
The Lodi Wine and Visitors Center features bottles from many area wineries for sale, but they were pouring a very limited selection when we went.
In Lodi, one restaurant I'd suggest is Wine & Roses. As a hotel, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Good food and lovely setting. Their wine list has some good local wines on it. If the weather allows it (and unfortunately I think it won't), eating out on their patio is my favorite location.
Taste in Plymouth (Amador) is only open for dinner. Andrae's (very small) bakery shop in Amador City makes good sandwiches, pastries, and a really tasty cracker. We always get a few tubs of the crackers to take home if they are available. I believe they are only open Thu-Sun; you might want to call to doublecheck their open hours.
Wine & Roses
2505 W Turner Rd, Lodi, CA 95242
Story Winery in Plymouth has a spectacular setting for a picnic. Great zins, too. Taste is a great restaurant but also try the smoked, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers at the Dancing Bear, just a couple of doors down inside the Plymouth Hotel.
Drytown Cellars has the best Sangiovese I've had in Amador, better then Vino Nocetto who is supposed to specialize in it. Also try J&D's Steakhouse in Sutter Creek if you have time.
In Plymouth is a great restaurant called Taste. The town is tiny and you wouldn't expect cutting edge food but don't miss it for dinner. Be sure to make reservations.
The only winery I can recommend in Amador is Nine Gables. They have a good syrah and calital blend. Nine Gables is also a wonderful B&B.
In Fairplay, just a few minutes from Amador, are a bunch of wineries I really enjoy. Cedarville crafts terrific zins, syrah, viognier, and grenache. They were just given a plug in Saveur magazine. You need to call ahead and make an appointment. Mt. Aukum Winery is perched on top of it's namesake mountain and has extraordinary views of the whole area. I like their zin, viognier, and rousanne. Holly's Hill also has a beautiful view and makes a nice rose and syrah. They were mentioned in the same Saveur article.