Last Saturday I was invited to visit Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi, CA for a sneak peek of their new processing facility and tasting room. It took a lot of arm twisting for me to be talked into a vineyard tour and wine tasting on a beautiful sunny day, but I am committed to bringing you the best blog content so off I went.
Oak Farm Vineyards is family owned and sits on 70 acres of land, 60 of which are allocated to growing grapes. They currently have 10 different varietals of grapes, some of which were planted as recent as three weeks ago. Dan Panella, the Managing Partner, spoke with pride about how the new processing facility was not only focused on the quality of the wine, but also on sustainability. As a result of this commitment Oak Farm Vineyards does not use any harsh chemicals in the processing of their wines. Dan put it best when he said their goal is to “make a pure product that has minimal impact.”
Our next stop was the newly built tasting room. From the first step inside it is obvious that detailed thought and care went into planning the layout and decor. A prominent U-shaped bar in the middle of the room features modern touches like a polished cement counter top and drop light fixture overhead. Large glass doors on either side of the tasting room lead to the courtyard or the great lawn. Both areas feature scattered seating areas, perfect for grabbing a bottle of wine and catching up with your partner or best friend. The seating areas situated throughout the property is one of my favorite features of the new building because they invite you to relax and enjoy a moment – it might even inspire people to put away their phones and have a conversation!
One thing that struck me as I walked around the perimeter of the building was how the view changed with each side. I would move from the expansive great lawn in front to the stately family house that looks like it belongs in the South somewhere, and then rows and rows of grapes growing all set against a cloudless blue sky. It was like visual eye candy, and I couldn’t get enough. All I could imagine was how lovely it would be to have a glass of wine in my hand and watch the sunset over the vines.
The most impressive feature of the tour was the 400 year old oak tree that is situated just to the left of the family house. If you go to Oak Farm Vineyards the tree may look familiar, it also appears on their wine bottle labels.
After we toured the grounds we headed into their barn to taste some wines. I tasted 6 of their wines and for full disclosure I will tell you that I had my fiance, who tastes for a living, help me out with descriptors. He also took all of the pictures featured in this post, so in short he is pretty amazing (why do you think I’m marrying him?). Scroll down to see the full write up on the wines.
Sauvignon Blanc: Aroma was grapefruit and lemon. Taste was high acidity, citric, and “lemon in the front, grapefruit in the back.”
Verdelho: Aroma was banana and vanilla. Taste was buttery, smooth, touch of citrus, and “like banana creme pie.”
Chardonnay: Aroma was toasted coconut and vanilla. Taste was smooth, low acidity, velvety mouth feel, “interesting.”
Tievoli (red blend of Zin and Petite Syrah): Aroma was bing cherry and cedar wood. Taste was plum, soft mouth feel, low acid, slightly sweet finish.
Barbera: Aroma was blackberry and raisin. Taste was ripe black berry, jammy slightly heavy body but no aggressive flavors. This one was our favorite.
Zinfandel: Aroma was vanilla, caramel, sandalwood. Taste was toasty, oak, caramel, soft velvety mouth feel.
Oak Farm Vineyards is anticipating having their new tasting facility open by mid September, but in the mean time I would encourage you to head over for a tasting and a romantic stroll around the oak tree.