By Robert FarmerIt had been some time since I visited Lodi. And so it was on a recent drive through the once-slumbering farm town that I was truly amazed to see the growth. But it wasn't just the growth of the town itself that caught my eye - complete neighborhoods now stand where I recall from previous visits only open fields and farmland. No, I was also quite impressed to see the incredible amount of vineyards seemingly everywhere I looked.
Of course, I have long been aware that Lodi has grown grapes and has for decades been an important California wine-producing region. But really, if you haven't been for awhile, you will undoubtedly be surprised to see just how important Lodi has become. Indeed the Central Valley entirely has accelerated its wine-related farming, and as the wine-buying world has taken the region more seriously, so too has the region itself been taking itself more seriously. An indication of the phenomenon can be seen not just in the amount of grapes being grown in the area, but also in the quality of wine being produced. Among the more than 40 wineries thriving in the San Joaquin Valley is a growing number of boutique-style wineries. From the Lodi AVA alone, there are dozens of wineries making a name for themselves around the world.
As I renew my relationship with the region, I'll continue to report on the latest developments, and provide tips and my picks for the best wine experiences Lodi has to offer. In the meantime, you can explore for yourself and a great place to start is the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center, which features a tasting bar pouring a huge selection of varietals from the area as well as more information about the area than you can absorb in a single visit.