It just might be the perfect weekend to be "stuck in Lodi." February 9-10 marks the 16th annual Wine & Chocolate festival in Lodi wine country. And, though I usually report on San Francisco restaurants, I can't resist spreading the word about what is definitely my fantasy kickoff to Valentine's Day.
Lodi is a bit like Napa was 30 years ago, with family-owned wineries and a laid-back, non-corporate atmosphere. And did I mention chocolate? More than 50 participating wineries will be serving goodies paired with their wines. While Lodi is famous for Zinfandel, you'll find a lot of interesting varietals that growers are experimenting with. Should be fun to see how those pair up, too.
Here are some of the more intriguing tastings you'll find at the event:
- Jeremy Wine Co. will be serving their Chocolate Port, a special Valentine's Day label, paired with tamales and mole sauce (containing chocolate, of course). 6 West Pine Street, Lodi; 209-367-3773.
- At Klinker Brick Winery, indulge in chocolate brownies drizzled with Klinker Brick wine reduction sauce. There's also live music from noon to 4 p.m. 15887 N. Alpine Road, Lodi; 209-224-5156.
- Clements Ridge is offering chocolate bread pudding and chocolate cream cheese pie, as well as Landjäger German sausages. 23225 E. State Highway 88, Clements; 209-759-3850.
- Estate Crush is pairing with Crush Kitchen & Bar’s slow-braised, English-style short ribs finished with red wine and dark chocolate pan gravy. And if you've got room, dark chocolate house made peanut butter sea salt cookies. 2 West Lockeford Street, Lodi; 209-368-7595.
- I'm not sure what H-G Vineyards is going to pair with chocolate-covered bacon and meatballs in chocolate BBQ sauce - but it could be worth a visit, just to say you tried it! 9 West Locust Street, Lodi; 209-263-0839.
- Both Harney Lane Winery (9010 E. Harney Lane, Lodi; 209-365-1900) and Heritage Oak Winery (10112 E. Woodbridge Road, Acampo; 209-986-2763) are serving up chocolate chili - which I'm guessing could be quite tasty, considering the Mexican tradition of savory chocolate.
- Michael-David Winery may be trying to give you a heart attack for Valentine's Day, with deep-fried candy bar bites and deep-fried Oreos©. 4580 W. Highway 12, Lodi; 209-368-7384.
Tickets are $45 in advance or $55 the day-of at participating wineries, and are good for both Saturday and Sunday. If you're looking to stay overnight, Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant & Spa has a romantic package.
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