When is wine tasting not just about the wine? It’s in Lodi, California during the Wine and Chocolate event held in early February. We have always loved Lodi’s Old Vine Zin’s, but when we first started wine tasting in Lodi there were only a handful of wineries. Now Lodi is home to over 60 wineries! We can never seem to leave Lodi without purchasing a few bottles of Old Vine Zin from Van Ruiten, but they do have a lot of great competition now.
My new favorite Cabernet is from Michael David Winery. It is called Freakshow; but now Michael David has made me question my favorite by introducing me to Incognito and Earthquake. And then there is Oak Farm Vineyards, great wine and beautiful! Oh and Berghold is a must see and must taste! But remember, I said it’s not just about the wine!
Lodi Wine and Chocolate is a two day event and begins at 11AM and ends at 4PM. Tickets in advance for the two day event are $55 per person. We were able to book a non-stop flight on Allegiant Airlines arriving on Friday and departing on Monday. The flight was only one hour (much better than an 8-hour drive) and the cost was less than the cost of gas to drive it.
We chose to begin our Wine and Chocolate experience at Sorelle where we got our first chocolate bar, wrist band and wine glass complete with the Wine and Chocolate logo and a tutu wine skirt around the stem. For the rest of the event our wine glasses were coveted by those who had started elsewhere. Apparently was a “golden ticket” inside the wrapper of some of the chocolate bars and participants had the opportunity to win one of 100 prizes, including a “Lodi Wine Country Getaway”. My bar had only some decadent Brix dark chocolate inside….so even though I did not get a “golden ticket” I felt like a winner.
During the weekend, in spite of the rain, we visited about 20 wineries of the 40 participating. We dipped strawberries and rice crispy treats under a chocolate fountain. We sampled chocolate ice cream made with wine, and we enjoyed a sizable portion of chocolate chile. We ate chocolate and brie sandwiches, homemade fudge, chocolate dipped pretzels, cupcakes, pizza and we learned about wine pairings with fruits, cheeses, and tender strips of tri-tip. Oh, and there was always wine to sample when you felt the urge.
We danced to 60’s and 70’s music. We chilled by the fire place and listened to a saxophone player. We watched people dancing to rock music (not our generation), and were lulled by a cello player. We toured barrel rooms and were invited to partake in barrel tasting. We took a few “selfies” in the photo booths and chose only a few of the many props available to us.
And the nice thing was that even though we had planned for a designated driver, there was so much to do and see that we were all feeling great at the end of each day. However, the event very wisely allows one designated driver per car free entry and access to all the water and chocolate they can stand! If you love wine or chocolate or fun, or all three, you should definitely add this to your “must do” list!