1. Lunch in Stockton; A Pitstop En Route to Lodi
The day trip drive to Lodi from Silicon Valley, San Francisco, or the East Bay, inevitably will take you through Stockton. Stockton is an ideal stopping off point en route to Lodi for coffee and a bite to eat. We stopped at House of Shaw, a place that looked like an old-fashioned American diner but was really a Lebanese leaning coffee shop and restaurant. We ate and got a bit of a sunshine injection dining al fresco in Stockton.
2. Lodi's Mettler Family Vineyards
Moving on, we arrived in Lodi's sphere of influence and stopped at our first winery of the day. Lodi's Mettler Family Vineyards features an elaborate tasting room and gorgeous vistas outside that are perfect for photo ops. I imagine that they host many weddings here.
3. Lodi's d'Art Winery
In contrast, Lodi's d'Art winery was much more quirky than Mettler Family Vineyards. An old timey truck with wine barrels on the back sat outside. Three metal mice welcomed us to the property. d'Art sold all manner of fun souvenirs including my favorite: the Drink-up Bitches tea towel. My favorite part about d'Art is that they served a dish of chocolate chips to accompany tasting of fine Lodi wines. On the way out, we even met the winery's resident hound.
4. Stroll through downtown Lodi
We drove into downtown Lodi and marveled at just how adorable the town is. A classic arch with California state bear on top greets you along with an iconic water tower declaring that you have indeed arrived in Lodi. There are lots of little shops in Lodi that make me think of Main Street USA from days gone by. Art adorns many of the facades in Lodi and the main street is dotted with sculpture. The town of Lodi is a great stop for a little rest and atmosphere before continuing the day trip to the next winery.
5. Pizza for Lunch in Lodi
We treated ourselves to fresh pizza in the sun at Lodi's Smack Pie to fill our bellies and fortify ourselves before an afternoon of wine tasting. Various finishing sauces, including the hot and spicy buffalo sauce that I added to my pepperoni pizza are a nice touch.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other wine country day trips in the San Francisco Bay Area? There is always a classic weekend in Napa and Calistoga to consider.
6. Lodi's Langetwins Winery
Langetwins sounds like it should be a tiny family run operation so when we drove up to it, we were surprised to find that Langetwins is a massive commercial operation in Lodi. Huge tanks line the property and Langetwins has a huge tasting room which was quite full when we visited Lodi for the day. We normally avoid the big name wineries when we go wine tasting in favor of smaller boutique brands with more limited distribution that we wouldn't get to try otherwise but Langetwins was still worth the stop for their tasty Lodi-grown red wines.
7. A Birdwatching Break in Lodi
Even better, Lodi's Langetwins vineyard sits at the edge of a pond and is actually a lovely spot to do a bit of California bird watching. We spotted this kildeer just strolling along the path on our day trip drive to Lodi. A brace of wildflowers had also popped up near one of the pipes leading out of Langetwins winery and onto the nature trail. I liked this mix of natural and industrial in Lodi.
8. Lodi's Michael David Winery
Michael David Winery is situated inside what looks like an old time general store so you can pick up food (they had nice looking bread and pies) in addition to Lodi wines and winery souvenirs. They also had some wonderful and well-priced reds including Don's Lodi Red which was priced at about $7.00 per bottle at the winery and also had a feel good element in that it was created special for the current owner's father, Don. As an added bonus, Michael David has a lovely lake and picnic area out back. Michael David Winery epitomizes Lodi at it's finest.
9. Lodi's Woodbridge Ecological Reserve
We finished our day at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in Lodi where thousands of birds had amassed and were feeding and splashing about. California has a great reputation for birds but until this point I had only been birding in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were really hoping to see the Sandhill cranes that come to Lodi to breed but alas, it was not to be. We were a little late in the season when we visited Lodi for a day in early March. Plus, Sandhill cranes normally don't arrive until dusk. We had a two hour drive from Lodi back to San Francisco ahead of us and didn't want to do it in the dark. Oh well, at least it gives us a reason to go back to Lodi.
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