We’ve been bouncing around the California central valley region and settled in Lodi for a couple of weeks. While here, we took care of some business such as dental work for Jeff and replacement of our failed rear air conditioner unit under warranty. It helps to stay put for a while in order to get those things done!
Lodi is a pleasant small town known for its vineyards – particularly those growing old vine zinfandel grapes. There are vines here over 100 years old and still producing! This area produces more grapes for wine making than Napa and Sonoma put together – in fact, some of those wineries source their grapes from Lodi. They just make the wine and charge a whole lot more for it! We found prices to be reasonable here – tastings run $5-10 and very nice wines can be had in the $20-30 range.
Jeff’s all time favorite wine is a Reserve Ancient Vine Zinfandel from Oak Ridge Winery, here in Lodi. In fact, that winery is the primary reason we put Lodi on our travel itinerary. It just coincidentally happened that our RV park gave us a coupon for free tastings at Oak Ridge and 20% off wine purchase there! We made our pilgrimage and found Oak Ridge also makes other brands that we have tried and liked, such as “Old Soul” old vine Zinfandel. Now we know why we liked it! We used that coupon and stocked up. Other wineries we especially liked in this area include Drava Wines (makes a great Mourvedre) and St. Amant Winery (really nice ruby and tawny Ports). There are a number of wineries here, so you could be tasting for quite a while!
Using Lodi as a home base, we took some day trips to sights nearby, including the city of San Francisco. Here’s a parking tip if you can plan in advance – use the Park Whiz app. We booked a 12 hour parking spot at a hotel right at Fisherman’s Wharf for $22; their normal daily rate was $60! I pre-booked a Big Bus Tour (saved 10%), and we spent the day touring the classic sights: Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge (and Park), and Haight Ashbury (Summer of Love) area. I had been to the city twice previously but did not remember the homeless problem being quite so … evident. It was disturbing to see so many homeless people sprawled on sidewalks, and two even gave a not-so-friendly single finger wave to the tour bus. San Francisco is an interesting historic town, but between the traffic, high prices, and belligerent homeless – it dampens my desire to visit there.
Off in the other direction toward the Sierra Nevada Mountains is the Marshall Gold Discovery Historic State Park. In 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold in the tail race of the sawmill he was building. That discovery launched the California gold rush — a mass-migration of people flooding into the area, seeking their fortune. California became a State just 2 years later, due to the unprecedented increase in population and development. The gold discovery site became a bustling town (Coloma) and the park includes buildings and historical exhibits dating from that era. Tours are given twice per day for the nominal fee of $3 per person. We were the only two that booked the 1 pm tour, so we had a private guide! It was fascinating to delve into this exciting time of history. Ironically, James Marshall wasn’t that great of a businessman and didn’t profit from the gold rush that he inadvertently started. He died penniless.