In the search for a good bottle of wine, readers of our dispatches often query us for winery recommendations in places like Sonoma, Paso Robles, Gold Country or Lodi. They’re looking to either expand their winery knowledge, or just looking for a place to start their tasting journey.
Having visited both wine producing appellations, we can say Lodi produces a more mature wine, a more drinkable wine than we find in Temecula. We have found the ‘price/to taste’ ratio to be skewed to the wrong direction in Temecula because it tends to be more expensive. A high ‘price/ to taste ratio’ is bad! This wine appellation sits adjacent to three major metropolitan areas, San Diego, San Bernardino/Riverside and Los Angeles/Orange County (17 million people.) With these huge populations within driving distance of your wine appellation, your prices can rise because of heavier traffic. And as we all know, a higher priced bottle of wine does not necessarily equal a better bottle of wine.
While Lodi sits in the middle of the central valley, within driving range of only Sacramento and Stockton (2.15 million), their local wine tasting traffic is lower. Add Santa Clara County (San Jose area, this is a stretch of the imagination) and the population rises to 3.98 million. Because of the smaller local population, Lodi’s price points seem lower, or as we say, their ‘price/to taste ratio’ is on the lower end (lower price/better wine.) A low ‘price/to taste ratio’ is good!
Lodi, while hosting over 90 wineries is producing beautiful wine. Local farming has been dominated by agriculture, but as the Wineification of California continues (it seems everybody wants to be a winemaker, and there’s a lot of open agricultural land in California capable of growing fruit) many new areas of California have been tilled for grape. In fact, if you drive north on California’s Highway 99 you’ll see grape vines starting south of Bakersfield, almost all the way north of Lodi.
‘Comparing Lodi wine with Temecula, we find Temecula wines to be too tannic for our tastes, with high alcohol content. This doesn’t fit our wine palate. And, the price point for that tannic, high alcohol wine, is higher than the plush wine you’ll find in Lodi.’
We would not call either destination ‘pretty’. Both appellations can be hot and dry. Neither region is as pretty as Foxen Canyon, Paso Robles or Sonoma/Napa, but the wineries can be gorgeous. The winemakers of both regions put plenty of money into their venues.
The thing we find interesting about Lodi is their control of tannin and alcohol. Growing grape in a warm climate usually means your wine is tannic with high alcohol. We noticed this after tasting in California’s Gold Country. Many of their wines were tannic, with plenty of alcohol, as high as 18.5%. The wine’s nose smelled of alcohol. Now if you like you’re wine this way, you’ll be in heaven. However, wine like this doesn’t sing for us.
When we dropped down the hill from Gold Country into Lodi, we were struck by the controlled alcohol levels and softer tannins. We’ve been impressed by this regions’ wine, and their central valley friendly attitude.
You’ll see our Lodi winery recommendations on this site, by following this link. There are plenty more bottles of wine we need to sample in Lodi, and we expect to visit there soon. You should also visit, you owe it to yourself to explore this area.
Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Bakersfield.