Harmony Wynelands Winery – http://harmonywynelands.com/
We had one more stop to fit in before heading downtown and eventually our dinner. Rod and Rene said I needed to see Harmony Wynelands and give them a try. They hadescribed a beautiful facility and grounds, fit for weddings. They also told me the tasting room was cool, with an old pipe organ from one of the theaters in San Francisco. I was sold and we hadn’t even discussed wine. We pulled in after a fairly short drive on straight flat roads (yes, I am still hung up on the flatness of Lodi).
What a beautiful location!!! Indoors and out, this was a place for hospitality. The grounds were spectacular and spotless. I was impressed, then I went into the tasting room and was blown away. A beautiful cedar paneled room with raised ceilings housing a spacious tasting room/music conservatory all in one. This was amazing! We looked through the room enjoying it immensely and then headed to the tasting bar to see what the wines would show us. Our hostess was warm and fun, sharing a variety of information about the family, the wines and the organ in the tasting room.
Soon we were sipping our way through their selections. In the process we tasted the 2010 Riesling, a 2009 Chardonnay, a NV Rose blend, a 2008 GMA (Grenache, Mouvedre, Alicante Bouchet), a 2009 Alicante Bouchet, a 2006 Alicante Bouchet, a 2009 Old Vine Zin and the Zin blend called Pipedreams. Being honest, I was not impressed with the wines in general. They were good, not flawed, but just did not stand out as much to me as the previous two stops. I did like the 2009 OV Zinfandel though, caramel nose with jammy blackberries, nice richness and well managed tannins. A little warm on the finish, but still nice enough to bring home. The Pipedreams and the 2009 Riesling were also nice.
This was a cool stop, especially for the room and the grounds. Would love to be here when the organ was being played to see and hear the show. The wine here is not bad and may appeal more to others it just didn’t ring my bell. Onward to downtown Lodi!!!
Jeremy WIne Company – http://jeremywineco.com/
On the road to downtown Lodi, hunger was building for Rene, Rod and myself. Even though stomachs were growling, we had it in us for one more wine stop before a feeding frenzy took place. Two of our three previous stops recommended the Jeremy Wine Co. It was ideal, being just around the block from our eventual dinner site. Unfortunately, due to creative navigating, we drove in what seemed like a holding pattern around the downtown area until we figured out that we needed to be a bit more North than we were. Finally arriving, we parked and walked over to the storefront tasting room of the Jeremy Wine Company.
Upon walking in the door we were warmly greeted by Choral Trettevik, wife and part owner with husband Jeremy. As we got acquainted, we looked around the nicely appointed tasting room. It was warm and comfortable, showing a focus towards their wines and limited retail products. Choral was excellent in telling us their story, talking about Jeremy’s efforts designing labels and how they came into making their own wine. As she shared, she poured (always a good sign of a great tasting room host).
We started with the 2009 Zinfandel, a wonderfully well made wine. It has an inviting nose that welcomed the palate to boysenberry and candied cherry fruit, clove and vanilla show the barrel influence, topped off with a dusty cocoa nuance that gave the wine an appealing mouthfeel and a lingering memorable finish. Next in the glass was a 2008 Barbera (I am a Barbera fan!!!). Dark berries and spice on the bouquet, it opens with prune, tobacco and coffee on the palate and a beautiful mouthful of rich blueberries. This one came home!!! A 2008 Petit Verdot was wine number three. Violet and dried cherry on the nose, subtle red cherry on the palate with hints of leathery/chocolatey tannins lingering extensively. As I tasted this wine it whispered “serve me with a nicely season, medium rare rib-eye”. I found it hard to argue. Finally, we closed with the 2009 Tempranillo (2 Tempranillos in one day, mmmmmm). Dark fruit and a warm summer oak forest struck me instantly on the nose, this wine is rich, deep and jammy. Spice, vanilla and black peppercorn all drag me to a wonderful finish, albeit before I was ready to get there. It is hard not to love this wine!!!
What a great final stop! This is a wine tasters stop, as the retail is limited, not any grounds, just a nicely purported tasting room to see. It is a must visit stop, as the wine is very good and at these prices, it is the deal not to miss. Again Choral, our hostess, encouraged us to continue to Alebrijes Bistro for our meal. She told us it would be wrong not to experience the food. We bade Choral thanks and farewell and headed to our dinner having had one more solid wine stop under our belts.
Alebrijes Mexican Bistro – http://alebrijesbistro.com
Well, we had been holding off our hunger for as long as we could, but gladly sought out and found this spacious, casual locale. Apparently, Alebrijes had recently relocated from a smaller location that was not as centrally located. We were given the opportunity to sit where we liked, as it was still late afternoon and no dinner crowd would be in this early. We were greeted by Ade, the wife of Chef Rueben and she cordially got us started. The warm, sparsely decorated room had Mexican music playing softly in the background. Just around the corner of the room was a full bar that sported a nice Tequila selection, including infused Tequilas for the connoisseur to enjoy or the novice to experiment with. It was a nice tasteful place, that if I had to guess was a work in progress.
Even though we had decided we had tasted enough wine for the day, we did peruse the wine list while viewing the menu. The wines were local, from a number of different producers, including some of those we had visited during the day. It appeared to be a solid representation of what Lodi had to offer. As for the food menu, well…………..WOW! What an interesting and diverse selection and, as we were checking it out, our hostess, Ade asked if we would like to try the Guacamole with our tortilla chips. We were up for it and she left only to return with a rolling cart and proceeded to prepare fresh Guacamole at our table. Ade smashed and mushed everything together, seasoning it all to our preference and then topping it with diced radish (a first for me, but what a treat). She left and we mulled over our choices, but all three of us came to chose the same dish, the Tour Alebrijes. Ade smiled and told us that our meals would be out in a bit and left us to visit and assess our day.
When Ade returned, we were treated to plates with Petite Filet Mignon with caramelized onions and sauce, shredded pork with marinated onion and sauce, finally a partially wrapped Carne Asada again with its own sauce. Most importantly, all of this was on one plate in a superb presentation. There is not much I can say about the meal other than it was phenomenal, the spices, the flavors, the textures and the experience was wonderful. Additionally, Chef Rueben came out and talked to us for a while, telling about the evolution of Alebrijes and his style of food. What a great finish to a unique and outstanding dinner. Alebrijes is a treat that you need to give yourself if you are anywhere near Lodi for lunch or dinner!!!
The Lodi Summary
We had beautiful weather, good company and some great recommendations to start this Lodi wine trip. It turned out to be a wonderful day spent tasting, viewing and enjoying just a small part of the Lodi wine region. Hell yes, I will go back again, possibly soon. Next time I will check out wineries more towards the Western side of Lodi. I loved the wines for the most part. The pricing on the wines I was tasting was great, mostly in the lower $20 range, which appeals to the thrifty side of me. Additionally, for me I found Barbera and Tempranillo, which are a little off the main wine road, but are wines that I seek out when possible.
We found great hospitality, unique facilities and solid wine. What more could you ask for??? I guess now days it is OK to be, “stuck in Lodi again”.
“Life is too short to drink bad wine”. Remember, you are the one who decides which is bad and which is not, so get out there and start deciding!!!!