Ah, the heart of the harvest season. Drive around wine country this time of year and you're likely to find trucks hauling freshly picked grapes and catch the tangy whiff of juice that'll soon be fermented into wine.
Vintners from around the state remain optimistic about the 2012 harvest, given the nearly ideal weather over the growing season. Industry observers recently predicted that California is on track for its second-largest harvest on record.
Meanwhile, let's do some wine tasting. The Lodi Wine Stroll is Friday, featuring pours from more than two dozen wineries in the School Street area of downtown Lodi. Local shops will double as wine bars as vintners show off their latest bottlings, along with music and appetizers at many stops.
Sure, we can hear the gripes now, especially from Sacramentans: "So, we're supposed to taste all that wine and then have to drive home?"
Here's some good news that'll help keep you from being a public-safety risk. Amtrak has a stop in Lodi that's within walking distance of the event, and it returns to Sacramento around 11:30 p.m. Friday. Also, Lodi's Holiday Inn Express is offering a special $159 package that includes an overnight stay, two passes for the wine stroll, transportation to and from the event, and breakfast in the morning.
Designated drivers can score discounted tickets for $15. For those who want to indulge: $30 in advance, $40 at the event. For more information: (209) 367-7840, ext. 100, or www.lodichamber.com. For overnight stay information: (209) 210-0150.
Wine & Roses
For an intimate, white-tablecloth experience, a harvest celebration with dinner is scheduled Saturday at Wine & Roses (2505 W. Turner Road, Lodi). The event starts at 6 p.m. with an art walk and appetizers, and dinner seating at 7:30 p.m. Local wines from Macchia, McCay Cellars and Acquiesce will be featured, along with foods from local farms. Live music and dancing will also be on tap from the Ike & Martin band.
Tickets are $75, plus tax and service charge.
For more information: (209) 371-6117, www.winerose.com.