The 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC), held in Lodi, California, was an astounding success this year! Why? Because, at our ripe young ages…
We’ve adopted a winery!
Our new family is Oak Ridge Winery. It all started with Nicole Smith, age 23, granddaughter of late co-owner Rocky Reynolds, Graphic Designer for Oak Ridge Winery, co-organizer and representative for Oak Ridge Winery at the WBC, and our newly adopted winery daughter. We met Nicole early in the conference and for some reason, besides her better judgment, we’re sure, she latched on to us and we, taken with her personality and smile, latched on to her. Within hours of this new bonding, we learned that the host of our WBC famous “Mystery Dinner” was none other than Oak Ridge Winery! We were so excited!
Not only were we going to spend more time getting to know our new friend, but it turned out that we were going to be having dinner at one of the original owner’s houses, outside surrounded by the vineyards enjoying Oak Ridge wine and a meal prepared personally by Shelly Maggio, daughter of founder and co-owner, Rudy Maggio. The experience was truly amazing and is best told by our Timeless Winer, Brian, who, as expected, infuses his natural sense of humor and makes it a fun read! (Click here to have a chuckle or two or three!) Bottom line, by the time dinner was over, we were so taken with this family that we felt compelled to schedule a visit at their winery and write a review…and of course, adopt them as our own.
Well, here – why don’t you meet Shelly yourself? Watch the video below of Miki having a chat (and glass of wine!) with Shelly and listen to Shelly tell the story herself. You’ll see why we were so taken with them. Just plain fun, down-to-earth folks!
And now for the written, more detailed version, with pictures!
Meet Oak Ridge Winery – the OLDEST vineyard in Lodi
It all starts back in 1938 when Rudy’s parents, Roy and Lydia Maggio, bought a farm in Lodi, California. And what would you grow on a farm with the last name of Maggio? Well, grapes of course! They were Italian after all. According to the story, told by one of the family members over dinner, as a child Rudy would come home after school and help his father tend the fields. He would plow the ground behind their faithful workhorse and care for the grapevines, the same ones that are still on the farm today.
The original farmhouse still remains on the property and has been the home of each of the generations of the Maggio family. Shelly Maggio, the second of three daughters of Rudy and Sheila, lives with her husband in the now-converted barn, and their son, Roy, in charge of harvest operations, resides in the original farmhouse, updated of course. Shelly is in charge of PR and outside sales. Shelly’s husband, David, works in fruit transport. Rudy, at the ripe ole age of 76, is still involved on a daily basis. And the rest of the family, daughters, husbands and children alike, all play some part in the family business. Six generations and going strong.
The Maggio family joined with two other families who were longtime grape growers in the Lodi area and dear family friends – the Reynold family in 2002 and the Dondero family in 2010, to form what is now the current ownership of Oak Ridge Winery. The three families all work side by side.
From growers to winemakers
From 1938 to 2002 it was all about growing grapes. Thousands of acres producing some of the best fruit around, from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and several others. The families knew grapes and they knew farming. For years, they would deliver their harvest to the local Lodi Co-op, where the grapes would be purchased and made into wine by others. But as they say, “times change”. One fateful day in 2002, the Lodi Co-op found itself on the auction block. Rudy and Don made a bid – the only bid, Shelly says – and the winery was theirs! And now, in 2017, the three families now bring their same grapes from the same vineyards to the same production facility, only now the wines are their own.
Today, Oak Ridge Winery produces wine under seven different brands – Oak Ridge Winery, OZV, Old Soul, 3 Girls, Maggio, Moss Roxx and Lodi Estates – with about 97% being estate grown. Their wine is shipped to almost all 50 states, internationally and through their way cool tasting room. Close to half a million cases per year!
The Oak Ridge portfolio, as you can imagine with seven brands and nearly half a million cases sold per year, is much too large to go into depth in this article. Did we try them all? Ha! Wouldn’t you like to know! Here are a couple we did try that quickly became our favorites:
Old Soul Chardonnay – The grapes for this label come from the “old vines” on their estate where the roots run deep into the ground bringing forth complex flavors from years past. This Chardonnay has just the right amount of creaminess to give it a smooth texture, but not too much to hide the flavors of pear, tropical fruit and pineapple. Upon the first taste, this Chardonnay became one of our all-time favorites. Suggested pairings: Chicken, Salmon, Tilapia, Duck, Pizza, Green Salad and Pasta.
OZV Old Vine Zinfandel – The grapes for this label come from vines between 50 – 100 years old, again bringing that complexity and richness into the glass. A classic jammy Zinfandel with rich flavors of raspberry and mocha and just the right amount of smooth tannins to finish it off. Suggested pairings: BBQ ribs, Angus-patty burgers with Gruyere, Pepperoni Pizza, and Hangar steak with Balsamic Reduction.
Moss Roxx Ancient Vines Reserve Zinfandel – This particular vineyard plays home to vines that are over 100 years old, and the grapes that come out of this vineyard are as complex as would be expected with 100 years of experience. This wine is bold, yet rich and soft, as one would expect with age, showing flavors of cherry, raspberry, chocolate, and spices. Suggested pairings: BBQ pork ribs, beef, lamb, and venison.
And now, the way cool tasting room!
Made of California redwood, Oak Ridge Winery’s unique tasting room was once something very different.
Originally housed across the street from Oak Ridge Winery on what then was land that belonged to the Roma Winery, the structure in the early 1930’s was a functional wine fermentor and storage container that could hold 49,429 gallons of wine. In 1965, it was moved across the street to be used as the tasting room by the new owners Royal Host Cellars. It was taken down stave by stave, numbered and marked, and then reassembled piece by piece. The floor, staves, and top of the tank are original, with only the doors, windows and roof added during the reassembly. This impressive structure continues to serve as the tasting room for Oak Ridge Winery, whispering secrets of the past to those that will listen.
The Winer’s Experience
|AMBIANCE||GROUNDS & SCENERY||TASTING ROOM|
|Wine-centric oasis in the middle of a production complex. They have done a great job at carving out a portion of their very busy wine facility and transporting you to a nice, relaxing, fun wine-tasting atmosphere.||You get a bit of two different worlds. On one hand, you can see from the parking lot (not allowed to enter, too dangerous) the busy, busy production area. On the other hand, the oasis has been created to bring you to a mental place to enjoy your wine experience. Very relaxing.||Way cool! An authentic German fermentation barrel that was used many, many years ago and was moved stave by stave and reconstructed to serve as the now tasting room. Very original – tasting wine inside a fermentation barrel – who could pass that up?!|
|WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE||CUSTOMER SERVICE||TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE|
|These folks are intimately involved as this is a family owned and operated business, and therefore really know their stuff inside and out.||Again, the family is involved in every aspect so their customer service is top notch. And even the non-family staff are also fun, engaging and great at what they do.||They pretty much have this in spades as they ARE their business, from the fields growing the grapes to the sales force, to the marketing and tasting room.|
Vineyard & Winery Information
|Oak Ridge Winery||6100 E. Victor Road, Lodi, CA 95240|
|Daily 10 am – 5 pm|
|MUSIC||WINE CLUB||TASTING FEE|
|Check calendar||Yes||$5, refunded with purchase|
|No||Nothing to purchase, but can bring your own picnic or snacks||You have to stop just to experience the tasting room!|