3 Day Lodi Wine Tasting Itinerary: Unique Experiences Beyond the Wine

Creedance Clearwater may have written a song about getting stuck in Lodi, but after reading this itinerary, that won’t seem like such a bad deal. A quick trip from San Francisco or Sacramento airports, Lodi is set in the northern part of California’s Central Valley, nestled between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Coastal Ranges. This area is home to the Mokelumne River and the many channels leading to it. 

Until the Lodi AVA came to be in 1986, Lodi was the prime supplier of wine grapes to both Napa and Sonoma, among others. Today, Lodi is California’s largest appellation and boasts more than 550,000 total acres—100,000 of which are vines planted by more than 750 growers. Known for their Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi has made a name for itself but many wineries are exploring Rhône, Catalan, Portuguese, and many other varieties.

Old Vine Zinfandel in Lodi California
Lodi is perhaps best known for its superb “Old Vine” Zinfandel.

The region is an excellent place to visit for a wine-centric trip, but the rivers, farmland, and bustling downtown make for a vacation that caters to all styles. If you’re looking to spend a few days, it makes for a great stop as part of a broader west coast road trip. Alternatively, you can fly directly into Sacramento International Airport and then rent a car. We put together an itinerary for a quick and fun-filled three-night stay. 

Day One

A quick visit to Fields Family Wines for a tasting

Hit the ground running and pop into Fields Family Winery. Fields is a small winery that produces handcrafted, low-intervention wines using mostly estate grapes (occasionally sourced locally). They grow Syrah, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Grenache Blanc, and Vermentino and they source Cinsault and Carignan from the Bechtold Vineyard (also in Lodi), and Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon from a dedicated block on Mt. Veeder (Napa Valley) in Dr. Konrad’s Vineyard. 

The tasting room is open 7 days a week 11 am to 5 pm. It is a small, kid and dog-friendly spot with a relaxed outdoor setting. The tastings are free and the pours are generous!

Check into Wine & Roses Hotel

Prepare to be blown away with whimsy. Wine & Roses is a seven-acre property that includes a luxury hotel with 66 rooms and suites surrounded by wildflowers, landscaped flora, fruit trees, and ferns the size of small buildings. There is an upscale restaurant for dinners and drinks and a bespoke café for breakfasts and lunches. The spa is divine and includes numerous ponds and waterfalls, a tranquility room, and high-end products. 

Amenities include an outdoor pool, hot tub, and a fitness center. All rooms include Wi-Fi, refrigerator, coffee station, and balcony or veranda overlooking the landscaped grounds. Some of the King Rooms and most of the suites include a fireplace. Hotel guests may also play golf at the private Woodbridge Golf & Country Club.

A walk on the grounds and a dip in the pool

Stroll through the flowers and say hello to the many tropical birds that call Wine & Roses home. Take a refreshing dip in the pool and then relax in your robe back in the room.

Dinner at Towne House Restaurant followed by jazz in the lobby

Town House is headed by Food & Beverage Director Chef Jacob Des Voignes. Before coming to Wine & Roses, Des Voignes worked at Daniel (Daniel Boulud) and Craft New York (Tom Colicchio). The cuisine is American Classic and the ingredients are seasonal and sourced from local farms. The wine list features more than 200 wines and champions the Lodi region by putting more than 70 from Lodi wineries on the list.

After dinner, head next door to the lounge to hear some jazz. Different musicians play on a rotating schedule and there is plenty of seating inside and out.

Day Two

Breakfast at Towne Corner Café & Market

Towne Corner Café is an adorable breakfast and lunch spot on the hotel grounds. Coffee and tea are free for guests. The selection of dishes are made using local ingredients on-site. There is a little market to buy cute little knick-knacks and gifts, as well as pre-made foods. In the fridge, you might find pickled fiddlehead ferns, a quinoa salad, and fresh-pressed juices; while on the shelves you can find freshly baked bread and pastries, along with local chips and crackers. 

Make your way to Headwaters Kayak to kayak on Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River 

The knowledgeable team at Headwaters will take you out on a 1.5-hour tour of Lodi Lake and through channels to the Mokelumne River. Red-winged blackbirds soar overhead and red-eared slider turtles sun on fallen branches as you glide through. You might even spot a Great Blue Heron. You’ll pass vineyards and mansions on land and wild blackberries that grow along the sides of the water. 

Grab some lunch at The Farm Café at Michael David Winery in Lodi (4580 W Hwy. 12)

The draw here is the gorgeous grounds and the delicious food. Michael David Winery was built in 1976 around the family’s roadside fruit stand and includes a tasting room, a bakery, a small market, and a farm-style café. There is a spacious indoor tasting room and the outside sitting area is surrounded by wildflowers. Hollyhocks are taller than a basketball player and burst into a kaleidoscope of colors. There is a large pond with a waterfall that adds to the ambiance. In addition to lunch seating, there is a tasting bar outside as well. 

If time allows, pop in for a quick tasting at Lucas Winery 

Lucas Winery was established in 1978 by winemakers David Lucas and Heather Pyle-Lucas. Both cut their teeth at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville before opening their venture. Lucas Winery specializes in Chardonnay and Zinfandel single-varietal wines that they have perfected through years of trial and error. The grapes are grown organically on-site and are hand-harvested.

Guided tastings are $20/per guest and include an etched wine glass for each guest to take home. The experience is complimentary to wine club members. Open Friday-Sunday 11:00-4:30.

Get your apron ready (just kidding, they provide them) for a cooking class and dinner at The Bordeaux Inn (333 W Locust St.)

The Bordeaux Inn is a bed-and-breakfast in an early 1900s American Foursquare style home. Owners and operators Craig and Rebecca Forrest refurbished the home themselves, keeping the quaint charm but adding modern touches such as the kitchen. There is a large porch that wraps around the front with rocking chairs and a large patio in the back with an outdoor kitchen and pizza oven (which you just might be using!)

Rebecca offers classes in French, Caribbean, and Italian-style cooking. She is an accomplished cook, who has studied in France, Italy, Spain, and other countries. You’ll be cooking under her guidance so you know the food will turn out beautifully—which is good because you’ll be eating it!

Back to Wine & Roses to relax on the patio

Day Three

Breakfast at Tillie’s Fine Food & Coffee Company

Tillie’s Fine Food & Coffee Company is a casual spot for breakfast and coffee. They are known for their array af smoothies and coffee shakes. You’re going to need to fuel up for the action-packed day that’s planned. 

Walk a few blocks to Lodi Cyclery to take a guided ride through the vineyards (312 N Ham Lane)

The skilled team at Lodi Cyclery will help choose the best bike to rent for your ride. Whether you are a novice or you came prepared with your gloves and padded shorts, they will make sure you have everything you need for a fantastic cycling experience.

Visit Lodi! has produced a series of interactive bike routes in a “Bike Lodi” brochure available online. There are many options to choose from, but here’s an example of one route:

Your ride will last about two hours and will go from downtown Lodi through Woodbridge and past numerous vineyards. It is mostly flat terrain so it’s smooth sailing unless you are facing the Delta Breeze which will slow you down a bit. It might be annoying but hey! it’s important for grape growing in Lodi so you’ll be thankful for it once you are tasting the delicious Lodi wines that were able to retain their acidity due to the Delta Breeze. Plus it will cool you down a bit. The ride will culminate at Oak Farm for lunch.

Downtown Lodi California
Lodi has an incredibly welcoming and quaint feel across the downtown area.

A well-deserved lunch and tasting at Oak Farm

The 70-acre Oak Farm wine estate is truly stunning. It’s no wonder many choose to have their wedding here. Surrounded by old oaks and even older vines sits a Colonial Revival-style historic home, built in 1876. There is a pond where waterfowl sit stoically, and a historic barn outfitted with string lights and chandeliers. The tasting room opened in 2014 and is a spacious and handsome place to unwind. There are many tables on the patio as well. 

Oak Farm grows many of its own grapes but they also source some from local vineyards. Owner Dan Panella has decided to focus on grapes that speak to his Italian heritage. In addition to the Lodi classics, Chardonnay and Zinfandel, he is producing Soave, Sangiovese, and Cortese. 

There are snacks for sale at Oak Farm but you are going to need more than that. A favorite thing for locals to do is to bring a picnic lunch. Order up some fantastic lunch options from Bon Appetit to be delivered. Consider ordering 20-30 minutes before your ride concludes so it’s ready and waiting for you.

Head down to San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum in Micke Grove Park, Lodi (11793 N Micke Grove Rd.)

Get to know the area at The San Joaquin County Historical Society & Museum. Spread across its 18 acres are 12 buildings that tell the story of San Joaquin County and the importance of agriculture to the region. The Sunshine Trail is a walking trail equipped with panels and audio messages that tell the story of the habitats.

Soak in more nature at San Joaquin County Parks

Feel completely serene as you tour the 3-acre Japanese Garden. It is surrounded by Kwanzan flowering cherry trees with five Akebono flowering cherry trees at the center. A traditional teahouse pavilion is set among a koi pond with a red, arched Japanese walking bridge and a Chinese angle bridge. Lodi’s sister city, Kofu, donated a five-story pagoda lantern that was added to the 10 lanterns already in place. 

Depart for Acquiesce Winery (22353 N Tretheway Rd.) in Acampo on the northeast side of Lodi for a quick tasting

Sample southern Rhone-inspired white wines at Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards. Owner Sue Tipton has long been a fan of the white wines made by Chateau de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, so she tapped Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles (owned by Chateau de Beaucastel) for cuttings and tips on growing Rhône varietals in California.

Depart for Bokisch Winery in east Lodi (22769 N Bender Rd.) for dinner and pairings

Bokisch specializes in Spanish varietal wines, made by owners Markus and Liz Bokisch. Wines produced range from Albariño, Verdejo, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha, to Monastrell. They also make a Late Harvest Graciano, a Malbec and an Old Vine Zin.

They don’t serve dinner every night so be sure there is an event happening before tasting on an empty stomach. Locals agree that the dinner and wine pairing nights are unforgettable. They have hosted tapas, Catalan barbeque, and paella pairing dinners—all put together by Liz Bokisch.

The views are incredible—there is no better way to take in a sunset than from the top of the vineyard hills at Bokisch. Within the vines, there is a small, cleared area that has a vintage Shasta camper-turned bar.

Now to sleep and drink in your fantastic stay before you depart tomorrow. It wouldn’t be too bad to get stuck in Lodi, huh?


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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Carrie Dykes is wine writer and reviewer living in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Her by-line can be also be found in Hudson Valley Wine Magazine, InCider Japan, The Cork Report and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. She is an international wine judge for the IWSC, where she uses the skills she has learned in her WSET Diploma training. Follow her travel and wine adventures in Instagram @lilmarzipan.