LOCAL STORIES by wangping12


									        LOCAL STORIES

          by Jennifer Bonnett

                                           Wineries dot the Highway 88 landscape surrounding Lockeford and Clements,
                                           beckoning residents and travelers alike to stop and taste. And what better way to
                                           explore the area’s wine than by limousine?

                                           Chauffeur Joseph Jordan and ESQ Limousines, looking to emerge as the premiere
                                           wine tour limousine company through the Lodi wine region, recently took Clements-
                                           Lockeford Chamber of Commerce members on a tasting tour of the area’s wineries in a
                                           white stretch Hummer. The Elk Grove-based company is owned by Rick Lewis.

                                           First stop: Woodbridge Winery, 5950 East Woodbridge Road, home to Mondavi’s
                                           finest. Visitors are invited to pull up to the wine bar and experience both well-known
                                           wines and limited-production ones such as Muscat and Barbera. Nearby, sneak a peek
                                           in the gift shop that sells art, pottery, clothing, jewelry and even specialty foods such as
                                           olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salad dressing. You can even take a free public tour of
                                           the winery at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

                                           Next on the limo tour is Oak Ridge Winery, 6100 East Highway 132. Nowhere else
                                           in this area can you taste wine while standing inside a fifty thousand gallon used
                                           redwood wine barrel. Lewis, who had never been to Oak Ridge, said the visit was an
                                           enlightening experience with the winery’s rich history and “great tasting red wines.”
                                           He actually purchased the OVZ, or Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi’s signature grape.

                                           After a brief drive through Lodi city limits, head west on Turner Road where the Wine
                                           and Visitors’ Center, which also offers wine tasting, is the gateway to several nearby
                                           wineries including Lucas, Jessie’s Grove, Ripken, Michael-David and Borra Vineyards
                                           and Winery, 1301 East Armstrong Road. In addition to wine tasting, owners at Borra
                                           will provide a catered lunch if given advance notice, whether it be sandwiches or a
                                           buffet. And their special “Fusion Fridays” offer belly dancing and catered food from
                                           area restaurants.

                                           Head east on Highway 12 back toward the Lockeford area, passing Berghold Winery
                                           and Vino Piazza, a collection of a dozen wineries found under one roof. After a filling
                                           lunch of Portobello mushroom sandwiches and pesto gnocchi at the on-site Gigolo’s
                                           Italian Restaurant, cruise back down Highway 88 passing the Lockeford Springs Golf
                                           Course and Omega Cellars.

                                           Both Denene Lucchetti and Cathy Lytle with The Fruit Bowl in Waterloo were
                                           impressed with what local wineries had to offer. They were looking for red wines to
                                           pair with a special seven-course dinner, and Lytle took notes on a small pad throughout
                                           the tour. She admitted she was amused when people started at the Hummer as it was
                                           making its way through the area, likely wondering who was riding on the other side of
                                           the tinted windows. Lytle, who had not ridden in a limousine, said she never thought
                                           she’d be the person on the inside.

16   T H E B E S T O F C O U N T RY E S C A P E S                                                                        Fall 2007
                     LOCAL STORIES
Cynthia Haynes, chamber CEO, thought the tour was a fun way to
spend a day with friends and especially enjoyed the Italian lunch.
“Every winery offered a different surprise…the organ from San
Francisco, and Vino Piazza is like a day in Tuscany.”

Turn west on Harney Lane, coming to a stop at Harmony Wynelands,
9291 East Harney Lane, where, if there’s a crowd, owner Bob
Hartzell will come out and play a song or two on the 86-year-old pipe
organ. He purchased it from the Castro Theater in San Francisco and
built a special building at the winery to hold it. The organ can mimic
some forty different instruments.

Timothy Fowler, president of the chamber, had never before gone
wine tasting in a limousine but said it was a great way to spend the
day with friends. Of all the wineries toured, the only one where he
had never tasted was Harmony Wynelands, where he said the pipe
organ was just an added bonus to the great wine and gift selection.

Continue on west to Vino Con Brio at Amorosa Vineyards Inn for
more wine-tasting treats.

Lewis, who is researching wine packages for limo customers, said
this stop is just one of the unique but perfect draws for wine tasters
from all over Northern California. He wants to be able to set his
company apart from others doing similar tours, and is thinking about
including wine education as part of his escorted tasting packages.

The chamber also wants people to be aware of the special wineries
throughout the area. Listen for the organization’s radio advertisement
on 105.5 The River twice a day. It invites people to take a break to do,
what else, wine taste on and off Highway 88.

Get back on the highway and head toward Clements where Crystal
Valley Cellars has made their local home. The Cosentino label, which
offers forty-seven wines, originated in Napa where the family still
operates a tasting room. In Lockeford, tasters are invited to call ahead
for a quick sample on their way to dinner and try out their signature
wine Cigarzin, a unique blend of Sangiovese and Zinfandel grapes.
And, don’t forget to pick a grape from the vineyard; you’ll see what
makes some of their wines so sweet.

No wine is sweeter, though, than taking a limo through the wine
trail. Just be sure to do some research before choosing one. Call the
wineries to confirm their property is “limo-friendly,” allowing enough
clearance to enter the facility and offering large-vehicle parking. And,
before you rent a limousine, check out how accessible your vehicle
will be. A wine bus or even a sedan, both offer a lower threshold
making getting in and out easier. The wine tasting experience should
be comfortable for everyone! •

Jennifer Bonnett is a resident of the Lockeford/Clements area, a
former reporter, and now a freelance writer.

ESQ Limousines
9630 Bruceville Road, Suite 106-109
Elk Grove, CA 95757 • TCP 18285-P

Fall 2007                                                                  T H E B E S T O F C O U N T RY E S C A P E S   17

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