06 May 2014

Lodi Farewell Dinner

On my last night in town, we had a dinner at Jeremy Wine Co., with a few winemakers, and they broke us up so that the wine writers didn't cluster together in our instinctive fashion. I was seated with a husband and wife team from Peltier Station, and when I introduced myself, the husband mentioned that they had flown into Mississippi to promote their wines. It sounded a little odd, so I said, "Did you fly into Jackson?"


The casino business has made Tunica a little busy, so I asked if they'd flown in there. "No, we're not into gambling, it was somewhere else..."

I said, "Did you fly into Olive Branch?" "YES! That's it!" So of course that led into a conversation about general aviation, their Cessna, and how I had not only flown out of that strip on more than one occasion but was privileged to take the yoke while Dad was logging flight hours. Turns out that he and his wife barnstorm all over the country on promotional trips. The jaunt to Memphis went Lodi, CA - Denver, CO - Fayetteville, AR - Olive Branch, MS. He thought it was a great trip, the wife seemed to indicate that it was a little long in some of the stretches.

I thought about my great-grandfather E.J. a lot while I was out there, particularly because two of my fellow writers were from San Diego and because so many of the winemakers that I met were fifth or sixth generation farmers in the same patch of land. I got to place my hands on old vines that were planted during the Civil War, and also to walk through some patches that were considered "new" seeing as how they were planted before WWI. Due to the Volstead Act during Prohibition, people were able to make batches of wine at home for personal use, and since Lodi had easy access to railroads, tons of grapes made their way east to fuel the home wineries of German and Italian immigrants in the big cities. Lodi is also the home of the first A&W root beer stand in the country, and while we drove past it, we did not get a chance to have a float while in town.

I have many more stories to share, but I'll leave you with this: while staying in the luxury resort Wine & Roses for four days, I'd notice that in the morning I'd smell cookies or toast or something similar wafting over the breeze, and it never corresponded to what we had for breakfast. Less than two miles away was a General Mills factory, so I was smelling Cheerios, Lucky Charms, or Kix depending on the schedule that day.

Note: This trip was sponsored by Lodi Wine and Snooth.

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