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Get Your Zin on at Lodi's ZinFest This Weekend

Here's how to celebrate the grape.


With this week’s gusty winds and perplexing weather patterns confusing San Francisco natives and tourists alike—parka in the morning, tank top by noon—you might be tempted to seek out the sunny skies (and higher temperatures) of California’s northern Central Valley. And what better occasion than this weekend’s ZinFest? Held in the charming sleepy city of Lodi, home of antique boutiques, historical museums, and over 85 tasting rooms in which to sip, swirl, and swill the fruit of local vines.

You might start at the Wine and Visitors Center (yes, wine is officially a part of the name), where you can pick up destination information and also sample some of the 150 Lodi labels on hand. Or you may just park the car and start wandering the streets in search of Lodi Lake, the location of this year’s ZinFest. The event kicks off with a Friday night lakeside barbecue, but doesn’t really get going until Saturday afternoon, when winemakers from over 40 Lodi wineries offer over 200 wines, along with all you’ve ever wanted to know about the process and premise behind their products.

There will be plenty of local food vendors to cater to your midday munchies, and an array of live entertainment, including strolling street musicians, on-stage bands, and a pop-up piano bar. ZinFest also offers both a wine and a cooking classes on topics ranging from food pairing to home-blending to a working definition for what terroir means.

There is perhaps no other festival during which you can watch grown men and women (all local vintners representing their respective wineries) race across the dwindling waters of Lodi Lake in boats fashioned from wine barrels. You may want to down a glass or two prior to or during this event. (Which may be what the contestants decide to do themselves).

A ZinFest merchandise store offers all of the screen-printed visors, tote bags, and matching t-shirts you could want (or not want), while the ZinFest Wine Shoppe will offer perhaps the best opportunity of the weekend—a chance to pick up custom blends and local labels that are hard to come by.

After a full day (or two, or three) of sipping syrahs and swirling chardonnays, you may need some sleep before taking the trip home. No worries. Bella Vino B&B has you covered. This two-story cottage-style bungalow features all kinds of rustic character—with a covered porch, community sun room, 1912 fireplace, and wood-floored dining room. The four bedrooms are even named appropriately: Champagne, Chardonnay, Merlot and Zinfandel. 


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