5 Things I learned While STUCK in Lodi during #WBC16

Disclosure:  A few weeks ago I attended my first Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, CA.  I learned a few things along the way about the Lodi Wine Region, and am now sharing that with you!


It was almost 2 years ago when I explored Lodi, CA on my own for the first time.  After hearing great things were happening in the wine region, and a new grand opening of a winery, I knew it was time to take a weekend trip to this coveted Wine Region… and what I found back then was enlightening!  BUT, as a first time trip, you can only take in so much, and learn so little along the way…

So, when I heard the Wine Bloggers Conference was headed to Lodi this August, I knew, it was time, to explore a bit more of this wine region.  Needless to say, I may have learned a little more this time around…

  1. Did You Know They have over 110,000 Acres of Grapes growing in Lodi?


Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes on Oak Farm Vineyards Estate Property

So, this FACT, alone, was the biggest takeaway I took from the conference.  Thanks to this brilliant article by Sommelier Randy Caparoso, and Lodi local.  That is double the acreage of all of Washington State, 4 times the acreage of Oregon State, and guess what; double the acreage of Napa!

So, whether or not  you know it, you’ve most likely been drinking wine from Lodi grapes over the years.  I dare ya, turn that California Wine Bottle over…

2) White Wine is Getting Quite the Name for Itself in Lodi

If you were given the option to drink a cold, hearty, white wine on a 110 degree summer day, or a glass of Red Old Vine Zinfandel, what would you choose?

Truthfully, I know what I would choose!  And, Lodi has caught on to what the consumers are also catching on too: Hot Summer Days call for a nice, refreshing White Wine.

BUT, Lodi, is actually excelling with their terroir in certain White Wine Varietals: Albarino, a spanish style varietal wine, has taken off in Lodi, and was a common theme among MANY wineries that were pouring wine throughout the Wine Blogger Conference weekend.


Another varietal that is getting a name for itself is the Symphony Varietal, in huge part to the raging success of Obsession Wines coming from Ironstone Vineyards.  The Symphony Grape was a crossing of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris, was created by Dr. Harold Olmo at UC Davis in 1948. As is the case with most of Dr. Olmo’s crossings, this white wine producing grape varietal was originally developed to be utilized in hot growing conditions of California’s Central Valley. ~Appellation America.

And if you haven’t tried Oak Farm Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, you need to!

3) It’s More than Just Zinfandel in Lodi!

Probably one of my all time favorite quotes that came out of the conference came from Markus Bokisch of Bokisch Vineyards during the “History of Lodi Winemaking” session.

He stated, “The Story of Zinfandel is a great one, but I had a different story to tell” in why he chose to bring Spanish Varietal Wines to the Lodi Region, and begin there.

But, even with that being said, I don’t think people realize how many different varietals are being grown in Lodi, they have well over 100 varietals growing in their area!


Spanish Varietals have really taken off in the Lodi region, bringing in Gold and Double Golds to a lot of the producers in the area. St. Amant’s Winery just won Double Gold for the Best Red Wine at the California State Fair for their 2014 Tempranillo.  Producing a little over 600 cases, now just bringing them down to a little over 13 cases left from their 2014 vintage!

And many varietals from the Southern France region are excelling in the region.

4) They’re Rooted in History


Lance Randolph of Peirano Estate~ 4th Generation Farmer

If you ask any Grape Grower or Winemaker in the Lodi Region, you can tell how much they are invested into the Lodi Region by their wealth of knowledge of the area.  There is a pride there, and it truly comes out the minute they begin sharing the Lodi Wine, perhaps one of the many reasons they’re so LoCa for Wine there!

As Randy stated in his article, the oldest cultivated vineyard is the Bechthold Vineyard – 25 acres of Cinsaut, of all things! – planted by Joseph Spenker in 1886.  Throughout Lodi, you will see many wineries and vineyards pay tribute to the Cinsaut grape and the heritage, in which, Lodi, lies.

The Conference was held at Hutchins Street Square: The Very High School that Robert Mondavi attended himself.  Although, no longer a high school, but a full-fledged conference center.

But, they’ve come a long way from being the most prominent region for White Zinfandel… I’m just saying…

5) They’re Experimental and their Wines will Surprise you!

Hands down, I’m not afraid to say this out loud about the Lodi Wine Region.  If anyone questions it, I automatically ask if they know about the Lodi Native project?

BUT, I am not the one to explain the Lodi Native project to you.  Since the Lodi Native project was the idea of Sommelier Randy Caparoso, his articles are much more in depth about the project, and what it all means!

Also, keep eyes out for upcoming articles about the Lodi Native Project as wine bloggers got to explore these interesting wines, and wineries during one of the Post-Conference excursions.  Follow along with Hashtag #WBC16.

BUT, it shows in their history, in how the grapes got to their region, and the pioneers in their willingness to keep trying new varietals in their wine growing region.  Truthfully, this is a Wine Region to keep an eye on just to see what they’ll be doing next!

For those that attended the Wine Bloggers Conference, what were some of your takeaways from the Lodi Wine Region?

What was surprising to you?

And what are you most excited about from this Wine Region?







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Organic Melon Farm in the San Joaquin Valley!

Disclosure: I was invited down to the San Joaquin Valley on behalf of the California Farm Water Coalition.  Here we met with different farmers along the San Joaquin Valley and explored their farms.  This is one experience we’ve had meeting with Organic Melon Farmer Joe Del Bosque. 

Oh Summer, Berries, Melons, Stone Fruit…. some of our favorites right?  Every Summer, I look forward to cutting open my first Watermelon of the Season, and back in Minnesota, I was a huge Cantalope fan, so you can imagine my excitement when we were pulling up to an Organic Melon Farm in the San Joaquin Valley!


But, the road to get there was a little heart breaking.  As we drove from the East Side of Fresno to the West Side, the West side told a much different story:  We drove by towns (Firebaugh) where the main street shops had closed down, we drove by towns that were struggling to stay together.  The West Side was mainly agricultural towns, full of farmers, but because of the drought the past several years, towns had taken on some hardships, and what was left, told that story.

As we drove further along, we’d see the farms, we’d drive by fields of almonds, even saw a cotton field, but then we’d also drive by farrow fields (fields that were all set, ready to go for that years harvest, but because of there not being enough water, the fields sat empty (even after farmers invested a ton of money into getting that field ready!) But there is a land purchasing program where irrigation districts will go through and purchase the lands that aren’t getting water, so no one will grow on it!

I always said, being a farmer is being the biggest risk taker out there! As farmers begin the season, they pay in for their water to their irrigation district, but truthfully, they don’t know how much they’re going to get back every year.  Some years, they are only getting a 5% allocation, that’s tough, especially in the San Joanquin Valley!  Keep in mind, Fresno County is the 3rd LARGEST Farmer County in all of California!


The San Luis Canal that provides water for 1/3 of the Los Angeles Population.  Water flows all the way from Lake Oroville in Northern California.

The West Side of Fresno gets their water from up north, a huge reason why the water infrastracture system is so important in the state of California.  For places like the San Joaquin Valley, where water isn’t as frequent, It is what makes water possible for the agricultural on the West Side of Fresno.

But then we arrived to Del Bosque Farms where we met up with Joe Del Bosque, who has been farming since 1985.  An organic melon farmer that grows Watermelons, Cantalopes, Gaileas, Honeydew for Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and higher end clientele.  He also grows Asparagus (March-May) Cherries (May) and Almonds!


We started out in his organic melon fields where he showed us how to pick out a ripe Cantalope.  It is all in the color when picking out a cantalope, looking for a more yellowish skin in Cantalope.

With the Galeia Melon ( a cross between a cantalope and Honeydew melon) it’s an even more yellowish color that you’ll be looking for.  See below:


Left: The Color upon being Ripen, a more yellowish tone.  Being Cut straight from the farm.  Right: Enjoyment right at home. 

Although the Watermelons weren’t quite ripe, we still had to explore the fields a bit:


We were in luck too because they were in the process of harvesting their Cantalopes and Galia melons that day!  So we saw the crew working.  To this day they still all hand harvest the melons! The crews are incredibly organized, which each person having a designated task as they go through the fields:


Joe Del Bosque discussing Melon Harvesting with us.

After exploring the Melon fields, we made a quick trek over to his Almond Trees:


Almond Trees have a bad reputation in California for how much water they consume, however, I don’t think people are aware of HOW much Almond Trees do beyond just eating:

For example: in California Agriculture, there’s 3 parts to the Almond: The Shell, The Hull, and the Kernal (the part we eat!)  Nothing goes to waste in California:


The Shell, is used for dairy feed!  And is sent off to dairy farmers for their animals.

The Hull is used for animal bedding!

And of course, the kernal is used for Eating!

Farmers are constantly thinking of ideas of how to reuse the crops they have on their land, and especially their resources.

It was such a pleasure visiting with Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms, and seeing all that he does on the West Side of Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley.  We were quite impressed with how neat he keeps all his crops, and his land, and of course, we enjoyed the hillside views:


The view directly behind his Almond Trees



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Groupon: Things to Do All Around LA!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Groupon!  All opinions are my own.

When I first moved to LA, I always kept my eye out for the latest deals and discounts on things to do and places to see all around LA.  Things like taking a painting class, or a wine tasting experience, or a great dinner experience! I kept Groupon Things to Do: as a great to go place to look when first moving to the city:


  1. It’d help me meet new people
  2. It got me out exploring my new City
  3. It helped to find things I never would have thought about.

This is when I fell in love with Groupon and all that they had to offer.

Doing a search today brought up fun activities such as:

Taking Basketball Shooting Lessons (do you guys realize how popular Basketball is in Los Angeles?)

Taking a Hollywood Tour (when you first move to LA, you have to be a tourist for a day and take in all the sites!)

50% Museum Prices! (LA has a lot of GREAT museums!)

And for those that enjoy wine like me, LA does not leave you out:

Take a Malibu Wine Excursion Tour:

Or Enjoy an Afternoon at Rosenthal Estates (Up to 46% off!)

I was also huge in taking part in the festival circuit: Finding the latest and new festival to attend:  There’s ALWAYS something happening in LA:


Dessert Week Anyone?

Sylmar Olive Festival?

Sunset and Dine Food Festival? (the perfect combination, if you ask me!)

So, definitely be sure to check out ALL the awesome Groupon Things to Do in Los Angeles!  There’s something for everyone.


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