When people think of California wine country they automatically conjure up images of Napa Valley or Sonoma. Not many consider or think to visit Lodi, but if you like to get off the beaten path when exploring wine regions then add Lodi to your list. The Lodi appellation is best known for its old vine zinfandels and is situated directly east of San Francisco and due south of Sacramento in the San Joaquin Valley. There are enough wineries and restaurants to enjoy in Lodi without being too overwhelming. The atmosphere is quiet, open and rustic. A refreshing change from the exploding development of other nearby regions.
I made a beeline to Michael David Winery as I know their zins are worthy of a special trip. As a matter of fact you may be familiar with their flagship brand, 7 Deadly Zins. As soon as you enter the tasting room you feel right at home. It is more than your simple tasting room but houses a bakery, farm produce stand and cafe while the surrounding outdoor space contains a large pergola and patio, mini pond, and sprawling lawns and gardens for strolling. You could easily spend an entire day at this place. Too bad I didn’t have that much time.
Michael and David are the Phillips brothers whose family have been farming fruits, vegetables and cultivating grapes since the 1850’s. While this winery is known for the old vine Zinfandel, they also bottle Rhone varietals such as Viognier, and Syrah that are worth a try.
I tasted at least 15 wines while visiting Michael David and was hosted by Allen, who walked me though the range of wines from Sauvignan Blanc to Petit Syrah. I walked away with a few bottles in my bag, which I rarely do when I have to carry the wine home in my luggage. A few stand outs for me were the 2015 Symphony, a hybrid varietal created by Dr. Harold Olmo of University of California Davis in the 1940’s. It’s a crossing of Muscat of Alexandria, a varietal said to be one of the oldest in the world and Grenache Gris. This is a perfect summer wine with a beautiful floral nose and hints of honeysuckle, peach and citrus on the palate. Another highlight was the 2013 Inkblot Cabernet Franc, a varietal found mainly in France’s Bordeaux region. Cab Franc is known to be a difficult grape to cultivate and vinify, but when it is done well it is magic. The 2013 Inkblot Cab Franc is complex, with dark fruit characters, plum, pepper and notes of dark chocolate. The tannins in this wine are velvety smooth but ever present. This wine is made in limited supply and can age for many years. I will cherish my purchase before popping the cork.
Michael David is located on West Highway 12 and is an easy drive from Sacramento or San Francisco. Their website is www.michaeldavidwinery.com and you can buy the wines I featured in the post direct from the winery. Hurry though as I know supplies are going fast.