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Lodi, California: Wine Weekend Getaway

Discover heritage grapes, wine and wildlife festivals, fine cheeses, a Japanese garden, and kayaking in an historic California town.

  • Kayakers paddle the Mokelumne River in Lodi, California, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Garrick Ramirez
    Photo caption
    Kayakers paddle the Mokelumne River and survey the wildlife.
  • server pouring native zinfandel at m2 winery in Acampo, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Garrick Ramirez
    Photo caption
    A server pours one of m2 Wines’ artisanal blends.

The long-established vineyards around Lodi, in the Central Valley, produce more grapes than Napa and Sonoma Counties combined. These days topnotch wineries, diverse eateries, and unusual sights draw travelers to explore the revitalized agricultural town along the beautiful Mokelumne River.

  • Lodi's annual ZinFest Wine Festival (May 13–15) fetes the region's heritage grape with gourmet food, wine and cooking seminars, zany wine-barrel boat races, and sips of some 200 local vintages.
  • Nibble creamy Cotswolds and crumbly blues at Cheese Central, where the affable staff slices samples from a worldwide collection of 80 cheeses and gives spot-on winery recommendations.
  • In nearby Acampo, check out m2 Wines, housed in a striking, burnished-steel structure. Towering walls slide open to let visitors enjoy a leafy vineyard setting. Compare its Old Vine and Lodi Native zinfandels, two distinct wines crafted with grapes from the same vineyard.
  • A gleaming DC-3 marks the Lodi Airport Cafe, which sports an aviationthemed interior. Enjoy homey fare such as a zesty chicken-pesto sandwich as you peer out at skydivers reuniting with terra firma.
  • From a boathouse on Lodi Lake (starting Apr. 15), Headwaters Kayak Shop offers classes and rents gear. Paddle to the serene Mokelumne River and keep an eye out for rare dawn redwoods as well as beavers and cormorants. In the fall, the Sandhill Crane Festival celebrates the enormous birds that migrate to the area by the thousands for the winter.
  • In Micke Grove Regional Park, you'll discover a Japanese garden, a zoo with over 130 animals, and carnival rides. The San Joaquin County Historical Museum includes 19th-century buildings and antique tractors.
  • It is no surprise that Zin Bistro tops locals' lists of lunch and dinner faves. Relax in the humble storefront dining room and enjoy dishes such as fork-tender marsala-braised lamb shank


This article was first published in Spring 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.