I love this warm February weather. I’m in a better mood with all the sunshine. Mark and I are just tickled with seeing 70 degree temperatures before March. I feel like I have more energy to do stuff in this t-shirt weather. This morning, I finished running 2 miles by Alamo Creek.
And this weekend, we explored the wine country in Lodi. My co-worker gave us free tickets to the Wine and Chocolate Festival. It was a lovely, romantic way to kick-off our Valentine’s Day holiday.
We first stopped at the Michael-David Vineyard off Highway 12. I overheard folks from Sacramento and beyond drove down to this vineyard to restock on their vino supplies. I sampled the 2005 Earthquake Syrah by the duck pond. We learned that Lodi was all about the Zins. We enjoyed drinking every spot’s version of the Zinfandel.
Here’s Mark getting friendly with the barnyard residents at Michael-David’s. This winery had beautiful grounds for outdoor picnics and lazy walks. I enjoyed the 2006 Heavenly Chard with its buttery finish. I also enjoyed the 2004 6th Sense Syrah with its rich tones of oak and berries.
First, we filled up our bellies with lunch at the Farmer’s Cafe inside Michael-David’s. The regulars looked shocked that there was a wait for a table because of all the festival hype. This is their “famous” chicken tortilla soup. I enjoyed the fresh guacamole, savory broth and juicy chicken bites. It tasted good, but not quite the same as the amazing chicken tortilla soup I had in Ixtapa, Mexico. I have a feeling I won’t find the same flavors here in the States. I also had a half-serving of the turkey bacon sandwich. I was impressed that they used a hunky slice of turkey and not deli meat. Yum! And Mark enjoyed his tangy bbq tri-tip sandwich. And keeping with the Wine and Chocolate theme, Michael-David’s also had ice cream sundaes for wine tasters. They drizzled chocolate syrup with port over our scoops of ice cream.
Our next stop was Jessie’s Grove Winery. I’m hanging out inside the Joesph Spenker Museum at the winery. It has a bunch of antique farm machines and old photographs of the valley. The folks at this winery were so friendly. They told us about their outdoor concert series that’s held during the summer months.
We loved sampling the 2005 Royal Tee at Jessie’s Grove. It’s made with 119-year-old Zinfandel vines. It had an amazing complex, rich flavor and I wanted it to melt in my mouth. According to our server, the owner won’t sell these bottles by the case. In fact, a wine lover can only buy 6 bottles at a time.
This gnarly vine is 119-year-old. At least that’s what the sign says.
We also checked out the Lucas Winery.
This is the owner’s dirt collection at the Lucas Winery. He traveled around the world as a consultant for Mondavi. He brought back the dirt from all the different vineyards he’s visited: from South Africa to Europe and beyond. He also collected sand from his surfing adventures.
Our final stop was at the Omega Cellars off Highway 88.
We got a preview of Omega Cellar’s new dessert wine, the Midnight Serenade. I thought the wine had a beautiful balance of fruit and rich tones. The owner says he’s releasing this wine next weekend when he gets his new labels. We also tried a bite of his wife’s homemade baklava. Of course it went perfectly with the Midnight Serenade.
It was an educational and idyllic Sunday afternoon in Lodi. We learned that great wine can be made outside of the Napa Valley. We can’t wait to go back and try more of these fascinating vintages.