Lodi Lark: The Vintner's Regatta

Winemakers race barrels across Lodi Lake during Zinfest.

THERE'S NEVER A TIME OF YEAR... when Californians aren't dreaming up something a little madcap and quirky. Our state does, after all, have the reputation of being the sort of place where innovative ideas practically rain down, droplet-style, on a regular basis. State residents, in turn, are known for seizing moments and going distances and trying things that might be deemed droll -- read: wacky -- in certain quarters. Take the Golden Stater's love of building unusual sailing vessels, at least those Golden Staters who consider themselves big boat buffs. While any time of year is the right time of year to do something a little different in the realm of boat construction, it is the springtime when several offbeat boat events reign. Both the Wooden Boat Races at the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival and the Kinetic Grand Championship, which rolls/floats in Humboldt County over Memorial Day Weekend, boast unusual and fantastic float machines, but they're about to have competition when ZinFest arrives. "Lodi's premiere wine tasting event" is absolutely about the vino -- zinfandel, to be specific, though you probably could have guessed that from the zinsational name -- but there is a to-do of a humorous bent that draws onlookers to Lodi Lake. It's...

THE VINTNER'S REGATTA: The regatta is set to sail on Saturday, May 16, which happens to be the middle day of the three-day-long party. Winemakers will sit upon vessels that are, fingers crossed, seaworthy, though "lakeworthy" is more accurate. Those vessels? Why they're wine barrels, oh yes they are, and while the barrels are aces at holding liquid, how they remain atop liquid, while keeping their pilots upright and afloat, remains to be seen. It's a lively day, full of healthy competition, but if you're looking to stick just to the zin-tasting side of things, you're in luck: The Saturday-afternoon-long wine festival is by the lake. Plan on sipping some of the "200 handcrafted wines from over 40 Lodi wineries." Are you up on your Lodi-local love, as far as what the grapes are giving, how zingy the zins are, and all of the choice stuff that comes with knowing your appellations? ZinFest is a fine place to get in the know. That a little sail-a-strange-ship fun is thrown in, and a few barrels standing in for boats, is just how we do it in California come the spring.

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