Lodi, California. A quaint little town, situated south of Sacramento and east of San Francisco, with a population of over sixty-three thousand, whose main industries are cereal (General Mills) and wine (a much longer list!). Let's talk about the wine! A product very important to the region's economy, accredited largely to the abundance of it's raw ingredient - the grapes. Without the rich history of multi-generational grape growers, some of whom have reached near-celebrity status in their small town, the wine industry would not be what it is today.
When the Lodi area was first being discovered and settled, in the mid-1800's, wild grapes were found growing along river banks. As the area developed and grew, more grapes were planted, but Tokay and Zinfandel flourished. Other crops were planted, but the vineyards sustained the trials of economics - supply and demand. In a thirty year period, starting in the 1960's, as consumers tastes changed and their exposure to and desire for quality varietal wines increased, more and more varieties and acres of grapes were planted.
Today, Lodi grows the widest variety of grapes varieties in the nation. The climate and the soil and the geography all combine to make Lodi a prime area for grape growing. Thanks to Lodi Rules, a partnership between the Lodi Winegrape Commission and Protected Harvest established in 2005, the Lodi Rules For Sustainable Wingrowing ensures the land, and the community, will be viable for many generations of winegrowers to follow.
There are about eighty wineries, many with tasting rooms, and over one hundred thousand acres of planted vineyards in the Lodi appellation. In the 1960's to the 1990's, much of Lodi's grape harvest was sent to other wine producing regions, but when Lodi became a recognized AVA (American Viticulture Area) in 1986, putting Lodi on the label happened more frequently, and more of the harvest went into Lodi-produced wines.
Because of Lodi's rich history in winegrape growing and wine making, it's wineries display a huge diversity. It's wine community is still a warm and casual environment, for both the wine makers and the wine tasters, many of whom are found interacting on any given day in a Lodi tasting room. Lodi even has a group - LAVA, the Lodi Amateur Vintners Association - formed to encourage and mentor the amateur winemaker - some of which go on to become commercial winemakers!