Oak Farm Vineyards sits on a historic piece of land at the end of DeVries Road north of Peltier Road in Lodi. The Mokelumne River flows nearby. Oak is in the name of the winery for a very good reason unrelated to winemaking. The property is dotted with beautiful, old oak trees that were the passion of William DeVries who purchased the property in 1860. He insisted on preserving them and they are particularly beautiful this time of year showing off their new, bright-green foliage.
A pair of large oaks perfectly frame the new winemaking and wine tasting facility at Oak Farm Vineyards, which was completed in the fall of 2014. You might not consider a building completed nearly four years ago to be new, but by comparison it will always be new. The large redwood barn and beautiful two-story home on the property date back to the 1860s and ’70s.
The Panella family are the current stewards of the property and have lovingly restored the old buildings, built the new facility and planted 60 acres of estate vineyards. They are a busy family with a clear vision for the property and the winery.
The Oak Farm Vineyards’ tasting room is spacious and filled with light. The tasing experience there is very pleasant. Outdoor seating areas include a fireplace and there is a bocce court as well.
Patio Tasting Experience
Now, in addition to all of the above Oak Farm Vineyards is offering a Patio Tasting Experience. This tasting experience is brand new and we were invited guests for a soft opening of the tasting on Thursday. What an experience!
The private East Patio overlooks an expansive lawn, oak trees and vineyards beyond. The patio is furnished with tables and chairs as well as coffee tables surrounded by chairs and sofas. Large umbrellas provide ample shade.
We were seated by Chris, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic tasting room staff member, and quickly sunk into the comfortable chairs surrounding a coffee table set with wine glasses and the menu for our tasting. After presenting the cheese and charcuterie platter, Chris guided us through the tasting providing winemaking details as we went along.
The Patio Tasting Experience is a paring of four wines, two current-release wines and two library wines, along with a selection of cheese, charcuterie, fruit, olives and nuts. The entire experience is unhurried, informative and delicious.
The wines included in the tasting will vary. Our tasting included the 2017 Albarino, which shows generous floral aromatics, minerality and bright citrusy acidity and the 2017 Rosé sourced from Shinn Farms, which is delicately colored, very aromatic and flavorful. This is assistant winemaker Sierra Zeiter’s first Rosé for Oak Farm Vineyards and she is clearly very proud of it. She stopped by to the share the winemaking details with us. Look for those details and tasting notes in a forth-coming post featuring Lodi Rosé.
Our tasting of library wines included 2014 Petit Verdot sourced from the Elk Vineyard in Lodi, which was still ruby-violet in the glass with generous aromas and flavors of dark fruit, vanilla and cedar. Our tasting concluded with the 2015 Vapor Trail, a blend of Amador County and Lodi Zinfandel that is big and unapologetically bold. Library wines are available for purchase in very limited quantities and of course current release wines are available without that limitation.
Heather and Dan Panella have done their homework in creating not only the cheese pairing for this tasting, but the entire concept. They experienced food and wine pairings at other wineries to see what works and talked cheese with those who make it. The result is a collection of soft and hard cheeses that complement the wines of Oak Farm Vineyards.
Our selection included Cascadia Creamery Sleeping Beauty, Bellwether Farms Blackstone, Essex Street Cheese Company Wilde Weide Gouda and Peterson Cheese Brie du Pommier. Dried Italian salami, green olives, almonds, fresh grapes, blueberries and blackberries were served along side. Local honey and crackers completed the assortment.
We were free to mix-and-match wine and cheese as we pleased. Every cheese was delicious with the wine and the fresh fruit, and honey, were unexpectedly delicious.
If you are looking for a tasting experience that is different from one provided at a tasting bar then this experience should please you. It is the perfect tasting if you are not in a hurry or want to taste and visit with friends or family. It is the perfect way to introduce out-of-town friends to the Lodi wine region. The rural Lodi setting is beautiful and you don’t have to drive for an hour and a half to get there.
The other thing that makes so much sense about tasting wine with food is that this is the usual way we enjoy wine — with a meal. Often we enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day before a meal, but we almost always also accompany that glass of wine with a taste of something and then go on to enjoy wine with our evening meal.
Thank you, Heather and Dan, for the invitation to preview your new Patio Tasting Experience. I’m certain it will be a big success!
You can view other details of the Patio Tasting Experience and make your reservations on the Oak Farm Vineyards website. Be sure to check out what else is happening too!