Newest Art Mecca and Wine Destination by Carmel L. Mooney

The city of Lodi nestled between the San Francisco Bay and the Gold Country Foothills has emerged as a popular and prominent cultural, wine, and fine dining destination. Lodi boasts a Mediterranean climate, perfect for growing grapes. But much more than a place to sip Zinfandel, Lodi is also a much sought after antique lover’s paradise, a dynamic spot for golfing, skydiving, bird watching, fishing, and most recently a real hub of cultural activity.

Local residents are proud of Hutchins Street Square, a performing arts and conference center considered by many as the cultural heart of the city. Every November Lodi’s famous Sandhill Crane Festival is hosted there, celebrating the yearly return of hundreds of Sandhill Cranes. Lodi Art Center, The Community Arts Center, Performing Arts Guild, and the Stockton symphony Orchestra round out the cultural side of Lodi’s emerging presence.

Lodi’s rapid growth in recent years in the areas of cultural, artistic, and culinary expression is propelling the region into the position of one of Northern California’s most sought out travel destinations and wine regions.
With only a dozen wine labels produced under the Lodi name a decade ago, now there are nearly 200. An impressive three dozen or so boutique wineries now dot the landscape, each offering a friendly welcome, an atmosphere of art and culture, and award winning vintage. Lodi’s wineries seem to have found a unique way to delicately interweave an array of unusual artistic media into the very thread of their lifeline, partnering wine tasting with galleries, music, poetry, and various other cultural events and displays.

Lodi’s Wine and Art Center offers a myriad of exhibits and displays both educational and entertaining as well as a grand wine tasting room featuring all the region’s offerings. It’s the perfect place to begin any visit to the Lodi region and to acquaint oneself with the region’s fine offerings of dining, lodging, shopping, art, and wine. Today numerous Lodi wineries marry a wine and culture appealing to visitors wanting to explore much more than grapes. At Vino Piazza visitors enjoy more than a dozen wineries in a single Winery Plaza where multiple micro-wineries share their individual techniques and art of winemaking.

World class Fossil and Mineral exhibits of top museum quality are on display in the tasting room of the Olde Lockeford Winery located in Vino Piazza where owners Don and Karyn Litchfield share their passion for both award winning wines and prehistoric treasures and artifacts.

When it comes to dining, Lodi offers an impressive palette of over 100 restaurants. Lodi and its environs are quickly becoming famous for an extraordinary culinary landscape.
Wine and Roses, another perfect marriage of wine, food, and art is located next to the Visitors Center. This serene and elegant setting amongst seven acres of botanical gardens is the ultimate experience of fine dining and accommodations.
If an overnight visit is on the agenda, Wine and Roses offers in-room dining, gourmet continental breakfast, well stocked mini-bars and refrigerators, and all the extras such as Italian linens, fluffy down pillows, along with massage therapy and aromatherapy spa treatments.

This once small farming town has become the chic spot where visitors and local artists enjoy the ambiance and all that is making Lodi a true California gem.

Carmel Mooney says 2011 Brings Some Exciting New Travel Enhancements:


A handful of cutting edge road trip goodies and gadgets are already proving to make 2011 a little safer and more cost effective, and did we mention fun?
The first cool new must have item is Joby’s Gorillatorch Flare, the ultimate flashlight unlike any predecessor. This clever gadget is mounted on Joby’s award-winning bendable, flexible legs and powerful magnetic feet. It will grip to almost anything, allowing travelers the light to illuminate any target hands-free. It has four powerful LEDS that provide six unique light settings, allowing travelers to choose the best one for any given situation. It even has a flashing white light, or steady and flashing red light. It’s also water and drop resistant and its compact and lightweight design allows for easy storage in a car glove box, RV, or a camping backpack. We love it for camping in a tent or RV. It makes cooking and packing a snap and it’s even great for a reading light. “The Gorillatorch Flare is a must-have for the outdoor enthusiast,” said Joby CEO Forrest Baringer-Jones. Whether you need some light preparing a meal at your campsite, or fixing a leaky pipe under the sink, the Gorillatorch Flare provides powerful illumination and frees up your hands for more important tasks. In addition, it makes a great flare to signal a roadside emergency; keep one in your car or truck and always be prepared. The Gorillatorch Flare weighs just 9 ounces (including batteries), is 8-inches tall, has a MSRP of $34.95, and, features a 1 year limited warranty. It is available for purchase at selected global retailers and ank” REI.
Balanzza, makers of the first ever digital luggage scale for travelers, now offers the Mini, a smart, light and easy way to pack and avoid overweight luggage fees at the airport. As the third generation of handheld Balanzza scales, the Mini is the smallest yet, but features an over sized LCD screen for improved visibility, weighs less than one-third of a pound and has a weighing capability of up to 100 pounds.
This great little travel must-have helps travelers avoid unexpected overweight charges at the airline ticket counter as well as the embarrassment or having to repack on the airport floor in front of strangers.

“Balanzza is excited to bring another solution for every travelerfs struggles with luggage weight and fees,” stated Ronald Kritzler, president of Balanzza. “Time and money are common worries when we travel, and the Mini provides convenient peace of mind.”

The Balanzza Mini is available directly on Opens in a new window”, in select Bed Bath & Beyond stores and in specialty stores nationwide for $24.95.

Lemur Monitors knows that traveling frugally is important to all of you with rising gas prices and now they have made available a new auto monitoring solution designed to empower consumers with additional insight into their vehicles’ operation. EconoDriverTM increases awareness of fuel consumption and inefficient driving. It installs within minutes and doesn’t require additional tools or even a computer connection. Simply plug the sensor into your vehicle’s Data Port which then wirelessly relays the pertinent info to the display.
EconoDriver is a must on any road trip as it helps travelers drive smarter and more economically by relaying real-time fuel economy to understand how efficiently they drive. Road tripping folks can even program in the current cost of gas and it will indicate how much money they spend as they drive. Admit it; now saving money really can be fun.

Portable Sound Laboratories, Inc, is a leading innovator of portable speaker systems, and now announces the iMainGo X. This premium travel must was designed to offer high-end sound quality and amazing light weight portability to customers who use the iPhone, any Apple iPod, the Microsoft Zune, and most other MP3 players.

Complete with premium high output stereo speakers, tuned porting for amazing bass reproduction and an ultra-efficient digital music amplifier, the iMainGo X provides much greater sound performance and quality than other systems many times its size and price. iMainGo X also custom fits and protects all iPods (except Shuffle), iPhone, iPod Touch and most MP3 players.
iMainGo X can even be used as a premium external speaker system for any device with a 3.5 mm connection, such as the iPad, Kindle, or a laptop computer. An amazing value at only $69.99 MSRP (USD), the iMainGo X includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, two headphone jacks, mic input, plug-in charger, custom travel bag and two carry straps.

“Our goal with the iMainGo brand was to create a new standard in ultra-portable stereo products, providing iPhone, iPod and MP3 users with the best in sound quality and design, at a very affordable price,”said Tim Jacobus, President of Portable Sound Laboratories, Inc. “With the introduction of the premium iMainGo X, we are again raising the sound quality bar, while adding the features that many of our customers have requested.” The iMainGo X includes rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, greater functionality and a more modern look. Once again, we’ve heard our customers, and responded to their needs.

iMainGo is available at: and
2011 opens new horizons for travel and with that, great ways to make our travels and road trips more rewarding, affordable, and memorable.