In April of 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival released the single “Bad Moon Rising.” On the B-side was “Lodi.” One was a massive worldwide hit; one was a modest, but enduring classic. That struck the town of Lodi as just about right. Lodi has always been the blue-collar B-side to Napa’s international glamour. And that’s okay, too. Because Lodi is a place where great wine is made by farmers, not by global consortiums or celebrities. The people here are proud of their roots and those roots produce some of the finest wines in the world.
Lodi sits smack dab in the middle of California’s Central Valley, bounded by the Mokelumne River and the foothills of the Sierras. It was the river that drove Lodi’s earliest industries, with sawmills and flour mills built along its banks. But from the beginning, settlers knew that the region’s land, with its rich, sandy loam and Mediterranean climate would nourish world-class orchards and vineyards. They weren’t wrong. Today, Lodi is surrounded by 100,000 acres of vineyards. That’s twice the size of Napa Valley. Generations of Lodi winemakers have nurtured old vines and forgotten varieties to make us “California’s best-kept secret for Cabernet Sauvignon.”
There’s charm in this little town, and not just the kind associated with antique stores and bookshops. It’s always been a city of old, heavy industry and startling innovation. In the summer of 1919, Roy W. Allen opened a roadside hot dog stand in Lodi and served the world’s first mug of A&W Root Beer. Lodi is home to large manufacturing and agricultural companies — Archer Daniels Midland, Lodi Iron Works, Holtz Rubber, Kubota Tractors and Tiger Lines — but also home to some of the wine industry’s most innovative ecological standards. The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing is California’s original sustainable viticulture program, and a model commitment to care for the land and those who share it.
Inside the Lodi Arch, you’ll find a host of best-kept secrets. There’s the Farmers Market, which runs from mid-May through the end of summer. In September, there’s the Lodi Grape Festival, a showcase of food and wine tasting. There’s the Wine and Food Festival (in spring) and Taste of Lodi (in early fall). In February, you can enjoy the Wine and Chocolate Weekend, with more than 50 wineries hosting special tastings and activities. And of course there’s Zinfest, always the third week of May at Lake Lodi.
Years after “Lodi” charted, John Fogerty admitted he’d never been to Lodi before writing the song. He said he just picked it because “it had the coolest sounding name.” And we’re cool with that. USA CABERNET comes from Lodi and we’re proud to call it home.