If you’ve ever thought about taking a trip to California’s wine country, it’s likely that Napa or Sonoma topped your list — and for good reason. These iconic destinations are world-renowned for their picturesque landscapes, near-perfect weather and, of course, great wines.
But roughly 70 miles east of Napa and Sonoma is Lodi, California, another welcoming wine region with all of the vineyard charm — yet none of the traffic and sky-high prices — of its westerly neighbors. In fact, with more vineyard square acreage than Napa, Sonoma and all of California’s central valley combined, you’re sure to have indulged in multiple Lodi varietals without even knowing it.
Should you decide to take a trip to experience Lodi for yourself (because, wine), there’s only one place you should consider staying: Wine & Roses. Like a cross between a chic boutique and a quaint bed & breakfast, Wine & Roses is the perfect place to have a gourmet meal, indulge in an award-winning spa treatment and relax after a long day of wine tasting.
The history of Wine & Roses is as rich as the lush greenery that blankets the beautiful, seven-acre estate. The centerpiece of the property is the historic Towne House, named for Burton Towne, an engineer from Minnesota who bought the then four-room cottage in 1898. Over time, the property was expanded — up to 13 rooms plus an annex of apartments by the 1930s.
In 1984 the estate was sold and converted to a 10-room bed & breakfast; the current owners, Russ and Kathryn Munson, purchased it in 1999 and ultimately developed the current 66-room resort.
Each of the rooms/suites on-site has a balcony or veranda — ideal for enjoying a glass of wine, or simply listening to the chatter between Rudy and Best Man, the resident Macaws at Wine & Roses. (The latter was so named because of the number of weddings hosted at the resort. Need a sub for your own groomsman? This lively parrot will happily fill in.)
Housed in the original Towne House, where Burton and his wife lived, the Towne House Restaurant is quintessentially Lodi, with a list of over 70 local wines and a menu chock-full of seasonal, local ingredients. Renowned chef Bradley Ogden is the Culinary Director, and with prestigious accolades including “Best California Chef” from the James Beard Foundation, you can be sure that every plate is expertly crafted and meticulously prepared. Menu favorites include the buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote, lemon curd and maple syrup for breakfast, and the duck breast with wild rice pancake for dessert.
Anything with heirloom tomato is sure to be a treat, as the juicy fruit from Lodi will far trump anything you’ve ever picked up in the supermarket, and if you have the chance, you should always opt for dessert. Everything is made in-house — including the ice cream.
Vacation isn’t vacation without a spa treatment, and the Spa at Wine & Roses definitely won’t disappoint. Consistently ranked as one of Spas of America’s Top 50 spas, the spa is sure to delight, whether you choose the Celluli Attack (“a spot treatment of a vigorous cupping technique that stimulates the stubborn cellulite prone areas and can effectively reduce the appearance of cellulite in turn making the skin appear smooth and firm”), the Wine and Roses Organic Signature Facial (“Following a personal skincare analysis, organic products are specially selected to exfoliate, detoxify, oxygenize, and rehydrate your skin. Utilizing the Eminence Organic Skincare® line of products, ‘the natural skincare solution’.”) or anything in between.
Just be sure to book your spot early, as appointments fill up fast. As an added bonus, be prepared to enjoy your spa experience with a view overlooking a relaxing waterfall.
Though it would be nice to spend your entire vacation inside your Wine & Roses room, the reality is that you’re going to want to get out. And based on Lodi’s designation as “2015 Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, you’re going to want to start with wine. You may have gotten a taste of a few local favorites at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center on site and Wine & Roses, but nothing beats heading out to the wineries, walking among the grape vines and talking to wine makers face-to-face. Lodi is probably best known for its Zinfandels, and while there are some great ones (the 2014 Select Block Zinfandel from m2 wines is a must try — and buy), there are plenty of other varieties to try.
Though best known for its 7 Deadly Zins, the family-owned Michael David winery is also behind the Symphony, a unique cross between the Muscat de Alexandria and Grenache Gris that was developed by a University of California-Davis scientist in the 1940s. The result is a bright, crisp white that’s sweet with the flavors of peach and citrus without being overbearing.
Finally, the Bokisch Winery is known for its Spanish varietals — a refreshing departure from typical California reds. If you’re into dessert wines, the 2015 Late Harvest Graciano is a must-try. The extra vine ripening develops a deep color and full-bodied flavor that is reminiscent of chocolate and berries, but is still slightly acidic and, thus, not syrupy sweet.