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This is the first of a series I’ll be doing, spotlighting a “winery of the month”.(WOTM) I visit several wineries in California and take the time to filter through some of my favorites and the ones that bring value and good wine to all of you.

WOTM #1 – Woodbridge / Robert Mondavi – Lodi, CA – PART 1

Woodbridge is not only a well known name in the wine business and in many homes across America that drink wine; but they also serve as a great piece of history to the wine industry altogether. If not for Robert Mondavi’s father bringing his family to the Americas and then onto Lodi,CA – the wine industry would undoubtedly be different today. How, I can’t say, but the real fact is a immense impact was made by the Mondavi Family on the industry. Robert Mondavi grew up in Lodi, Ca and started his wine making at Woodbridge. It’s humble grounds and facility are far from the Robert Mondavi winery in Napa, but it shines of the beginning of a empire and the roots of a iconic man.

Upon my visit to the winery I was greeted and asked to try their “free” tasting of the most popular retailed wines under the Woodbridge name. I was given 4 different pours. Most of these are the wines that many of us see on all those wine isles at our local grocery stores; discount stores and liquor stores. Admittedly, I have always passed up these wines, never really giving them a second glance and after my informed tasting at the Woodbridge Winery, I do see the wines in a “new” light.

First up I tried the 2010 Lodi Sauvignon Blanc. It was crisp; clean and green. Not as fruity as some Sauv Blancs, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable. I do like a grassy, straw like Sauv Blanc from time to time and this one fit the bill.

Second was the 2010 Rosato. This Rose’ is styled in a Mediterranean way that Italy and France enjoy their Roses’. It’s fermented completely dry. 98% Syrah with 2% Viogner. The nose was enticing with floral notes and a fresh, unique taste with a hint of spice at the end. Very refreshing.
Third was the 2010 Ave of the Vines Zinfandel. A rather tasty Zin for the price point. It’s a juicy, jammy Zin with hints of earthiness to it. Would pair nice with BBQ.
Fourth was the 2009 Cherokee Station Red. This red blend is a combination of some of their favorite grapes to make a bold table wine that would go with any meal! Good stuff!

After I tasted these four signature wines I was asked if I would like a tour of the facility. Of course, I said yes, please! Winery tours are given twice a day, everyday for anyone at the fair price of “free”! I happen to be visiting on a Saturday when no one was out wine tasting (I can’t really fathom that, but hey, more for me!) so I was given a VIP Solo tour. The facility has much history, so much that I won’t be able to include all of the details in this blog post, but it’s enriching and endearing to walk around the property and see the vineyards, facilities, even the famous “cork tree” and the Giving Garden – that started it all for Mr. Mondavi. The tour does give you great insight on how a large production winery is run and all that goes into it. If you like the “nuts & bolts” of winery tours without all the “fluff” then this one can’t be beat, especially for free!

Check back for PART 2 of this post on the tour details and further tasting that occurred from some FANTASTIC wines you can only get or order from the winery itself.