Disclosure: We visited Oak Farm Vineyards on our Friday Night Excursions into Lodi during the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference. This is my experience along with the beginning. All opinions are my own.
Oak Farm Vineyards will always hold a pretty special place in my heart. It was the first winery I ever visited in Lodi, CA. It was also during their Grand Opening Weekend, almost 2 years ago! After this year’s visit, I realized, that this winery, will always be the place I stop back at, to see how the vineyards in the front have grown, to see how the Winery has transformed, or stayed the same over the years, and to remember, the very beginning!
And, it’s great to find a place like this, where a true connection is formed! Because, this property, is one of the oldest in the Central Valley, and has a lively history:
Oak Farm Vineyards, located at the end of DeVries Road, was home to William DeVries and his wife Cornelia Crowe. William purchased the property in 1860, and at the time, the area was called “Elkhorn Township”, DeVries was a well wheat farmer and raised cattle, he even became Justice of the Peace and was responsible for enforcing the law.
The ranch was known throughout the San Joaquin Valley as one of the most magnificent and beautiful pieces of property within the state.
DeVries was an enthusiastic lover of trees, particularly of oaks, and on the home ranch, he never allowed a tree to be cut unless it was a menace, newspapers reported upon his death. The beautiful colonial style home was built by William and his second wife Mary Jane in 1876.
The Panella family has truly renovated this property, to bring it back to its roots, and to honor the history that lied on this property. And with keeping with tradition, they, too, have not taken down any of the Oak Trees, teaching the Vines to grow around them including the beautiful 430 Oak Tree that lies to the left of the White House, and what their Logo is based off of. Oak Farm Vineyards is the perfect name knowing the lineage and history of this property!
(The 430 Oak Tree with the Oak Farm Vineyards Logo on their Wine Glass)
When I first pulled up to their winery, my jaw hit the floor to how beautiful it truly was. You could instantly tell all the thought and details they put into building their winery and tasting room.
As you walked up to the tasting room, your eyes were instantly drawn to the little White House on the right. And then dreams of living there flashed through your mind. Luckily, owners, Dan and Heather Panella actually do with their 4 children!
(These Vines were just baby vines during Grand Opening Weekend!)
So, for this 2nd Visit, this time, escorted by Dan and Heather Panella along with Winemaker Chad Joseph, we would hear a little more history of the property, and see all of the grounds surrounding it:
We started our tour with a visit next to the Tasting room, where our glass of Albarino was about to be poured for us. On this warm, hot, summer day, the Albarino was quite refreshing upon greeting!
After our glasses were filled, we walked out, along the vineyards directly in front of the White House. These Vines were Cabernet Sauvignon, just a few short weeks away from harvest:
Once we got to the end of the row, a quick view looking back towards the Tasting Room and Winery:
We then rounded the corner and saw the 430 Year Old Oak Tree, in which the Winery was named after. They told us how they’ve been renovating the property to restore it back to the ranch and layout that it once had, back in the 1800’s.
And also, told us about the Cemetary, that was found upon the property. The previous owners never knew about it when they had purchased the property, but, once they began digging, they discovered it.
They’ve done a great job of protecting the cemetary, and even dug up a bit of history on who lies there. But that is a story to tell on behalf of the Panella family, it’s a good one!
We then walked around the backside of the White House, where we discovered a Chicken Farm and a beautiful Rose Garden:
After frolicking around with the Chickens, we found the Private Tasting Room where a beautiful bar stood: A bar that was in Dan Panella’s parents house for several years, but then became apart of the Private Tasting Room.
This Tasting Room is utilized for Group Tastings, to deter the big groups from the main Tasting Room Area to give everyone a special tasting when visiting the winery:
One last walk through the Barn, which is completely restored and ready to host special events, Wedding receptions and more: They were getting set up for the Wedding that was taking place there the following night:
It’s a pretty spectacular venue, and they’ve done a GREAT job restoring the Barn. Has it’s own Bar Area, Storage Area, and plenty of space for a dance floor!
We then headed back to the Winery to take in the Tasting Room, refill our glasses with other wine options such as: Sangiovese, Tiovoli, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Zinfandel, Barbera, Albarino, Chardonnay, Fiano, or Cortese. After refilling our glasses, we talked with Winemaker Chad Joseph for a little bit as he discussed the wines, and a bit of his history as winemaker:
Then we sat down for dinner, a meal prepared by Chef Michael Midgley of Midgeley’s Public House out of Stockton, CA, perfectly paired with Oak Farm Vineyards Wines: Sauvignon Blanc (they have quite a following!), Barbera, Zinfandel, and Fiano.
Of course, the perfect end to a wonderful evening at Oak Farm Vineyards: Sunset!
A huge thank you to Oak Farm Vineyards and the Panella Family for hosting a wonderful evening of Good Times, Good Food, and Good Wine! I will always look back to your Winery with fine memories, and this winery, will always be a must visit for me every time I come back to Lodi!