One of the great things about the conference is that the location changes every year, giving wine bloggers the opportunity to visit new wine regions across the country. Lodi is not only an excellent wine producing region, the city itself was also an excellent host to the several hundred wine bloggers that descended in from all over the world.
It also turns out that Lodi is surrounded by lots and lots of wine. Since I was in California wine country, I figured I couldn’t leave without making a few stops to do some field research. So Laura, my new Italian wine blogging friend, and I took our matching convertibles up to Clarksburg on our way to the airport on Sunday. We met up with Robin from Wine Flights in Sacramento who I’d met at the conference; he was a native and offered to show us around.
We made our first stop at Miner’s Leap, a winery owned by a lawyer who I’d met at a conference panel the day before. I thought I was busy, but then I met Loyal Miner. He’s a named partner in a Sacramento law firm and a few years back decided to open a winery. No big deal. While he wasn’t mowing the lawn, blending wine or writing summary judgment briefs, he decided he should expand his operations and build a concert amphitheater on the grounds of the vineyard. We arrived and he was knee deep in concrete getting it ready for the concert that was scheduled to occur the following weekend.
We tasted some wines and then headed to our next stop: Lunch. It was a little BBQ joint called Husick’s Taphouse that was just about the quaintest thing I ever did see. We walked in to an gentleman playin’ his guitar and singin’ the blues. The family-owned restaurant showed us a good time, and my bacon, turkey and avocado Panini was to die for. They insisted we leave with a bottle of wine that we enjoyed with our meal.
By this point in the trip, I had four bottles packed in my suitcase and I didn’t think I had room for more. Getting the wine home is always such a dilemma. We had at least two more places to visit and I couldn’t buy any wine. In stepped Robin to save the day. He’s the brain behind, Wine Flights in Sacramento, a new wine tourism company that organizes all your travel needs in the Sacramento area. They recognized that Sacramento isn’t a top wine tourism destination, which is silly since it has an international airport and more than 600 wineries within an hour’s drive. It’s a less expensive way to experience California wine country without sacrificing the quality. The best part is, they’ve developed a wine carrying case to get you and six of your favorite bottles home safe on the plane. He had a prototype in his trunk and agreed to let me try it. Score! I now had room for more bottles! We backtracked to Miner’s Leap where he’d wanted to send me home with wine, but due to my former space quandary, I’d had to refuse. I’m now the proud owner of two lawyer-made wines.
Next up on our journey was Bogle, the iconic winery that produces more than 2 million bottles per year, far more than all other wineries in Clarksburg combined. Bogle is one of my go-to repeat wines, especially for parties where I know we’ll be going through wine quick. It’s great quality at an affordable price. Robin told us about the special blends they make available only at the tasting room, so I was excited to try.
We were running a bit low on time, so we didn’t do a full tasting, but what we did taste was fantastic. The Rosé was so good I had to buy a bottle. And it was only $13. The winery itself was beautiful too; several production buildings sat next to the tasting room which looked out over acres of vines. The lawn was packed with people listening to live music, eating pizzas from the mobile wood-fired pizza truck. And good wine was obviously flowing.
Time continued to tick, and Robin really wanted to show us one last place, The Sugar Mill. We weaved along the back country roads until we arrived at an old massive factory complex. In various stages of renovation, the first building is one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen. Talk about innovative entrepreneurship; they’ve taken the shared space model and really made it work. Eleven wineries have their tasting room here so visitors can come to one spot and enjoy lots of local wines without having to drive to multiple wineries. We weren’t there long but it was a nice taste of what the Clarksburg area had to offer.
Traffic was light and check-in was a breeze, so Laura and I had some time to kill before our flight. We settled in to the Vino Volo right outside our gate and gabbed and Instagrammed over a flight of Rosé. Not a bad way to prepare for a flight.
I had two flights to get home and for my first leg, I was glad I had a window seat. The landscape was incredible, again, and this time the sunset was absolutely breathtaking. Wine adventures are so much fun!
I’d finished my book on the flight out, and lucky for me I’d met a new wine friend at the conference who happened to write a book! She gave me an autographed copy for my flight home; the subject is wine and romance, so clearly I was hooked from page one.
I’ll certainly be back and I’ll need another empty box to fill! And thanks so much to the #WBC16 Scholarship Committee for funding my travel scholarship to get me out to the conference. Can’t wait for next year!
 See Pre-Cap, Recap, Gewürztraminer, and Goats. When’s the next wine trip, Universe? I’m ready!
 He insists on doing it himself. No OCD here at all. But it does look good.
 Because, #priorities.
 Which was only medium sized, not my jumbo.
 Hello Book Club.
 That whole “catch a plane thing”.
 Thank god I had some extra room!
 With the top down. Obvi.
 The space was amazing but my Type A personality was really starting to kick in, so we had to say our goodbyes and make our way to the airport.