Presented by Touring & Tasting
The oldest operating winery in Lodi, California, Oak Ridge Winery originated as a winemaking cooperative of local grape growers. Today, the winery is owned by the Maggio, Reynolds and Dondero families, who are focused on introducing as many folks as possible with their wonderful wines.
Lodi is definitely blessed with warm days and cool evening breezes, creating ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. Most of these top Lodi varieties have thrived over time in Oak Ridge Winery’s vineyards. Actually, beneath the direction of Nick Karavidas and winemaker Chue Her, Zinfandel is one phenomenon. The portfolio presents an extraordinary group of handcrafted Zinfandels using Old Vine grapes. The 2010 Maggio Old Vine Zinfandel won Gold at the 2010 NORTH PARK International Wine Competition and was named among the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Wine Club Annual dozen Best Buy Wines from a field of 800 entries. Another Zin, the 2010 Moss Roxx, earned gold medals in the 2010 SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Chronicle Wine Competition, the 2010 NORTH PARK International Wine Competition and the 2011 Pacific Rim Competition.
The winery produces its wines in small lots and maintains its tradition of offering custom winemaking services to other Lodi wineries. After a thorough and comprehensive renovation in 2002, Oak Ridge Winery’s state-of-the-art facility can meet greater volume, style and quality demands.
Family-owned and operated, Oak Ridge offers several special venues for both small and large private get-togethers. Undoubtedly, the most unique of the may be the winery’s tasting room. This historical landmark was converted from the initial winery’s 50,000-gallon redwood tank. It still serves as a great tasting room by day and a romantic party room by night for 20 guests. The winery’s original brandy distillery is fantastic for banquets as high as 175, and its own adjacent courtyard hosts sets of up to 60.
An Interview with General Manager Nick Karavidas:
T&T: How did a Southern California boy as if you discover Lodi?
NK: When I was 18, I headed out to Rancho Cucamonga, that was a substantial wine region in the past. I worked for Brookside Winery, a business giant. When I left 2 decades later, I told myself I wasn’t likely to work for anybody anymore and targeted Lodi as another great up-and-coming wine appellation. Lodi had seen a genuine surge in plantings in the 1990s (about 80,000 acres were planted there in eight years!) and I knew there weren’t enough wine professionals living there to aid its growth. I didn’t just see potential, but great potential, and I was right.
T&T: And how did you become involved at Oak Ridge Winery? NK: Soon after arriving in the Lodi area, I started a consulting business, that was doing very well. In this same time period, Rudy Maggio and Don and Rocky Reynolds had recently purchased Oak Ridge Winery with the intent of repositioning in to the wine business. I was hired by Oak Ridge Winery for some projects that went perfectly, which resulted in Rudy asking me to seriously full-time as the overall manager in late 2003.
T&T: How has Oak Ridge Winery were able to expand distribution so successfully since you’ve been up to speed? NK: The short answer is “relationships.” It starts with the three families who own the winery: the Maggios, the Reynolds and the Donderos. The relationships they have with one another, their workers and others running a business are of paramount importance. Because of their strength and integrity, we’ve had the opportunity to network with other industry leaders within an selection of business endeavors.
T&T: What exactly are your major goals now? NK: Our goal is to keep to market a family-owned operation while we expand distribution. We don’t want to ever grow so large that I don’t know the individuals who work here. I also want to greatly help Lodi grow. I moved my children here understanding that this region would develop the highest quality level at the very best prices. It’s great to help with making that happen also to be in a location that is setting a fresh standard for California wine.
What things to Buy: ’05 OZV — Jammy raspberry, milk chocolate, mocha $12.99 ’09 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon — Ripe dark fruit, smoke, vanilla $14.99 ’06 Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel — Raspberry, chocolate, mocha, spice $24.99
Contact: 209.369.4758 [email protected] oakridgewinery.com
Tasting: Tasting Room Open Daily 10-5 6100 E Hwy 12 Lodi, CA 95240
Special Notes: Private tastings and tours, picnic grounds, gift shop, weddings and receptions,