Lodi is experiencing a downtown business boom.
For more than 150 years, Lodi grapes have been included in many California wines. However, just 20 years ago, local wineries started proudly labeling their bottles with “Lodi.” Since then, the city has seen a significant increase in tourists from around the world.
The recent economic recovery has prompted several new businesses to start in downtown Lodi. Just 20 years ago, there were only eight wineries in Lodi. Now, there are more than 85 wineries and tasting rooms in the area. Around 14 tasting rooms are in downtown alone.
“When we first opened here, there were 12 spaces available in Downtown, now there aren’t any,” longtime Lodi resident Cindy Della Monica said.
Della Monica and her husband opened “Cheese Central” three years ago. It is one of the only cheese specialty stores between Modesto and Sacramento. She pairs specific cheeses with the local wines from nearby tasting rooms. She said business is going very well.
“That momentum that has been building, has been really positive and just booming here lately,” Cameron King, Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, said.
The Commission started more than 20 years ago, to advertise local wineries, and increase wine-related tourism in the area.
“Some of our events, like the Zinfest coming up, are drawing international audiences,” King said. “They are tourists from Europe, Asia, Canada, Mexico, etcetera.”
Locals said their wines now rival those of Northern California wine giant, Napa.
“We very much hold our own,” Della Monica said.
Lodi Wine and Visitors Bureau says they expect more than 5,000 additional people to attend this year’s 10th Zinfest on May 16-18.