Oak Ridge Winery
Summary: Oak Ridge Winery in Lodi has a unique tasting room experience. The tasting room is located inside a redwood wine tank. Experience the portfolio of reasonably priced wines.
After parking in the visitor area, look for an immense old redwood wine tank, the site of the Oak Ridge Winery tasting room. The barrel used for the tasting room once held 49,429 gallons of wine. The tank was not moved far; its original place was just across the road near the railroad tracks. The tank was used by the Roma Wine Company after the repeal of prohibition in the early 1930s. Later the Mid-Valley Winery used the tank for wine storage until 1964 when East Side Winery acquired the tank and moved it to its present location. The floor, staves and ceiling are all original.
The curved tasting counter matches the circumference of the walls. Behind the tasting counter, bottles are stored in cubicles. Along the rest of the interior circumference there are displays of wine-related products.
The original winery was founded in 1934 and has the distinction of being one of the oldest operating wineries in the Lodi area. Originally it was the East Side Winery, a cooperative venture. For many years the cooperative of local growers did well; however, it began to decline in the late 1990s. When East Side Winery went out of business in the early 2000s, three members of the original cooperative: Rudy Maggio and his partners, Don and Rocky Reynolds bought it in 2001 and named it Oak Ridge Winery. Today, Oak Ridge Winery produces about 300,000 cases of wine. Plans include future growth for the winery.
Vineyards and Winery
The owners of Oak Ridge Winery also own about 8,000 acres of wine grapes and control another 14,000 acres. About 20 to 25 percent of their fruit is used to craft Oak Ridge wines while the remainder is sold to other wineries. Many of the vineyards are planted with Zinfandel grapevines.
We met production manager Chue Her. Chue formally worked at Opus One. He started in the wine industry in 1992. During his senior year in college, he worked at a winery as a lab technician. Now he oversees two associate winemakers and two oenologists.
Chue came to Oak Ridge in 2005 and built up the wine program. The first phase of reconstruction took place in 2005 and 2006. In 2014 another construction phase took place and new tanks and updates are installed.
The winery produces different brands that are aimed at different price points and markets. The winery also serves as a custom crush facility for other growers who have their own wine brands.
The signature wine is OZV Old Zinfandel Vines. Many of the wines are made in small lots. The 2012 OZV Lodi AVA was an opaque, dark ruby color with 13.95% alcohol. The wine had slight floral notes and an abundance of blackberry. The full-bodied wine had mild tannins and a very affordable price of $12.99. Also made predominantly with Zinfandel and a splash of the dessert wine was the Moss Roxx Lodi AVA. This wine was made with Ancient Vine Zinfandel, vines aged over 100 years. The wine had an opaque, dark ruby color with 14.5% alcohol. It offered floral notes and blueberry and blackberry fruit. The wine had medium/bold tannins, and was full-bodied. Also a Zinfandel based wine was the Non-Vintage OZV Lodi dessert wine. It was a blend of mostly Zinfandel with some Cabernet Sauvignon and brandy. The opaque, dark ruby colored wine had 18.35% alcohol. There were jammy black berry fruit notes and medium tannins on this slightly sweet dessert wine. The full-bodied wine had a touch of heat on the finish.
The 2012 Lodi Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Zinfandel. It had an opaque, dark ruby color and 13.9% alcohol. The full-bodied wine offered notes of blueberry, blackberry and spice. It had medium tannins. The 2012 Three Girls Cab Lodi was mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Merlot. The wine was named three girls because each of the winery owners has three daughters. The translucent ruby color wine had 13% alcohol. There were notes of blackberries, cassis and spice on the aroma and taste. The full-bodied wine had mild tannins. It retails for $13.99.
A few steps from the tasting room is the old winery’s brandy area that has been renovated into an event space. The banquet room holds weddings, receptions, anniversaries, corporate meetings and fund raisers.
Outside of the banquet room there is a lovely courtyard ideal for smaller events. It provides a wonderful setting for wine tastings.
When in Lodi, plan to visit one of the oldest operating wineries. The unique tasting room is in an old redwood wine tank. Enjoy tasting from a large portfolio of wines at an affordable price point.
Oak Ridge Winery
6100 E. Highway 12, (Victor Rd)
Lodi, California 95240
GPS: N38º 08.250’ W121º 14.542’
Article written September 2014
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