Do you remember the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “Lodi”? Yes, the one that had the classic line, “Oh Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again”. Well, I had those words rolling around in my head last week as I took up some old friends on a wine tasting invite down in the Lodi area. I ran up to Sacramento to pick up my friends Rod and Rene, people I worked with during my “cubicle life” days and readied ourselves for fun. We hopped in my “Clown Car”, a Scion XB (actually a great car to wine taste in) and headed down into Lodi for a day of wine tasting and exploring on a beautiful February day.
Now I will be honest and tell you I haven’t been down in that region for many, many years and my past experiences weren’t that memorable. Today, I was optimistic about the visit, having recommendations from my passengers and from a new friend, Mark Chandler, formerly the Executive Director of the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission. Armed with many choices we dove into an exciting day. I have tasted many wines from Lodi over the past two years, and have been quite impressed, especially with the quality in relation to the prices of the wines. Translated that means I was anticipating tasting some delicious and interesting treats.
Macchia – http://www.macchiawines.com
After a quick drive, we arrived in the Lodi area and headed for Macchia out on Peltier Road. This is where I admit my affinity to hills and valleys and acknowledge a slight prejudice for them, seeing as there are none around Lodi. We all were chuckling about my obsession with the flat appearance of Lodi wine country as we pulled into the Macchia parking lot. Jumping out of the car, we stepped into a wonderful, lush grounds around the farmhouse style tasting room. They have set a beautiful location on the outside to match a fun and eclectic tasting room. This is a cool use of a farmhouse, adding to the appeal of Macchia (which translated from Italian means “the spot”).
Once inside, we checked out the quirky, old farmhouse converted into a tasting room and retail area. It is a great venue, well laid out and interesting. It is a must see location with plenty to take in both for retail appeal and in the decor! Well, having roamed and chatted with our hostess Tanya (also the Macchia General Manager) as she was opening the tasting room, we bellied up to the bar to experience Macchia wines. The selections included a number of Zinfandels, adding Sangiovese, Barbera and Petite Sirah to the list. Macchia features a number of single vineyard Old Vine Zins sporting names like “Ambitious”, “Voluptuous” and “Serious”. Their Zinfandels are in a rich, full bodied and usually jammy style and are great examples of Lodi and Amador fruit.
Each of the wines we sampled were delicious. We began with Italian varietals, Sangiovese and Barbera, both which I am a fan of. Both wines showed bright fruit, depth and good balance. The Barbera was very representative and displayed the acidity you look for in this Italian varietal. All four of the Zins were quite good, bringing big fruit, richness, depth and the jammy quality that Macchia shoots for in their wines. We finished with a solidly delicious 2009 Petite Sirah (Rebellious) that was complex, but young. It presented coffee, chocolate, dark berry flavors and moderate tannins all in a package that should age well.
Bottom line was that Macchia was a great first stop! The wines were consistently very good, the grounds were attractive and would make a nice picnic stop. The tasting room was fun and visually interesting, definitely a must see stop. The old farmhouse is an ideal wine destination!!! Fnally, Tanya was fantastic as our guide to all things Macchia. I left with the 2009 “Oblivious” Zin, the 2009 “Luxurious Zin and the 2009 “Rebellious” Petite Sirah. All three of us loved Macchia and would definitely add it to our list of return to wineries in the Lodi area.
Harney Lane Winery – http://www.harneylane.com/
After a solid first stop, we headed over to Harney Lane WInery, taking up the recommendation of Tanya at Macchia as a good place to continue our day at. As we arrived at the scenic, beautifully modern tasting room and winery facility, we observed that, the property has outstanding landscaping, with very picturesque grounds that guests can sit out and enjoy during their visit. The inside of the tasting area is open, spacious and welcoming. It is representative of the hospitality we received from the staff that greeted us as we took in the well laid out room. Here we were with two stops in a row, displaying impressive, but different presentations of who they are.
When we stepped up to sample the wine of Harney Lane, we were treated to well presented information on the winery, the wines and the general Lodi area. Our host was a younger woman (seriously, to me, under 40 is a “younger” woman) who’s personality and presentation was fantastic. She guided us through a very delicious tasting of Albarino, Chardonnay, a couple of Zinfandels, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and an Old Vine Zin Port. I liked all of the wines poured for us, but really went for a few that I had to have.
The 2010 Albarino was delicious, tropical fruit (pineapple), green apple, nicely crisp, refreshing and a lingering finish. The 2009 Tempranillo made me think of listening to a cello, with depth and richness surrounding plum and dark cherry flavors. This was supported by leather, chocolate and subtle barrel hints of vanilla. Tannins were medium, noticeable, but lingering in a long waltz with the fruit through the finish. Very nice!!! Following that was tough, but the 2008 Petite Sirah really took the challenge and gave me earth, barnyard, blueberry and baking spice. Big, rich and showing nice layers, solid end to end fruit and very well managed, bigger tannins sliding into a lingering finish. Good now, but deserves the chance to lay down and become even more. Finally, we ended our visit with the Old Vine Zin Port. A tasty close to a great visit, the port gave me prunes, chocolate, rich dark berry fruit and surprised me with a subtle approach to the sweetness. Brought back hints of the Vintage Portuguese Ports I love. Yummm!!!
Another quality stop, two thumbs up on the facility, the hospitality, the wines and the grounds. Additionally, this was the first stop to recommend our dinner locale for later on. They said Alebrijes, located downtown was the bomb and we needed to give them a chance to prove it. As you will see here later, we did! Harney Lane Winery does it right, go and see if I’m fibbing!
Editor’s note: Tune in on March 17 to read Part Two of Rick’s Lodi Adventure!