Lodi is surprising.

Surprising in that Lodi grows more premium wine grapes than any region in California.

Bet you didn’t know that.

Did you know Lodi grows more premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and many other varieties than any region in the state?

Did you know Lodi is home to approximately 125 wine grape varieties because of its Mediterranean climate and well-draining soils that are ideal for wine grape growing?

Did you know Lodi has some of the oldest vines in the country planted to Zinfandel, Carignane, and Cinsault? For instance, the Bechthold Vineyard, planted in 1886, is believed to be the oldest Cinsault vineyard in the world.

Did you know Lodi’s proud wine growing history dates more than 150 years due to the hard work and innovation of its farmers, of whom many have passed along their knowledge, care for the land, and traditions for four, five, six generations?

OK. Enough with the questions.

If all of this is a surprise, you’re not alone. There are many wine drinkers who live and work in the San Joaquin Valley that have no idea Lodi is the engine that revs California’s wine industry.

I’ve had the pleasure of unveiling Lodi’s surprises for several years as a tasting room associate at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, and as the author of the former From the Vine column in The Record. Now, it’s my honor to bring all that is Lodi wine to Stocktonia’s readers.

My column will focus on the people and the wineries that make up the Lodi American Viticultural Area, which covers approximately 500,000 acres, of which about 100,000 are farmed by some 750 wine grape growers.

For wine lovers, the area has exploded in the past 20 years, as several multigenerational wine-growing families have vertically integrated their operations by opening their own wineries. Mavericks from outside the region have found Lodi to be a welcoming place to plant their roots as well.

From a handful of tasting rooms in the late 1990s to close to 100 today, Lodi is converting millions of visitors from around the world every year from doubters to believers with its authenticity, natural beauty, diversity, and delicious, high-quality wines.

Bob Highfill covered sports and local news for more than 25 years for The Stockton Record, and he wrote the weekly “From the Vine” column in the publication. Bob has earned the Certified Specialist of Wine certificate from the Society of Wine Educators and the Level 3 certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and he will take you on a journey to meet the growers and winemakers who make Lodi such a special place. Please share your article suggestions and your tales from Lodi wine country at info@stocktonia.org.

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