THAT MELLOW, MARVELOUS TIME OF YEAR: If you could crystallize late September's charms, perhaps enshrine them in a frame or shadowbox or display case, what would you include? Probably some of that soft, not-so-hot golden sunshine that seems to rule around early fall. Maybe a few grapes, to signify the time of crush and harvest and general winery busyness. And maybe a photo of a long table, to represent the meals organized to celebrate what is essentially wine's holiday season. But you don't need a sedentary display case or photo frame to gaze upon the gifts of the end of September; you only need venture to Lodi, over the final weekend of the month. The winery-filled region is throwing its second annual Sip Savor Lodi, a three-day celebration that boasts two major events worthy of a display case or shadowbox: a Harvest Dinner and a Grand Tasting.
LET US ALSO... pay diligent due to the cellar tours scheduled for the weekend, an always essential part of seeing where the wine you're enjoying at the dinner or tasting spent time in the whole process of officially becoming wine. The Harvest Dinner starts the weekend off, on Friday, Sept. 25, and in a memorable setting: downtown Lodi, along Pine Street. The alfresco affair will feature many local vinos and "the agricultural bounty grown in the Lodi region," bounty turned into "freshly prepared cuisine by Elaine Bell Catering." Local vinos continue to be the sippable star on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 26, when the Grand Tasting again takes over a chunk of downtown. And on Sunday, Sept. 27? A number of wineries in the area will lead guests back to the barrels and tanks for a deeper look at wine-makery.
LODI WINERIES, AHOY: Over 40 wineries will participate in the big weekend, so perhaps the place that makes one of your favorite labels will be on board. If not, you can always pop by the tasting room while you're in the region.