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If you are looking to move into a California city that has the feel of a small town you may want to look into Lodi. Lodi is home to about 65,000 people and is most famous for its wineries. All around Lodi there are farms that specialize in wine production as well as cherries, strawberries and other succulent fruit. In fact, it is known as the Zifandel capital of the world. The city won the 2015Wine of The Year award, and although its wines tend to be less prestigious than those from surrounding areas it continues to be a significant producer. Sacramento is 40 minutes south while San Francisco bay area is an hour to the east. If you fancy some skiing you can head to Tahoe which is just an hour and a half away.

Lodi has a long history and can be traced back to a group of pioneers – Ezekiel Lawrence, Reuben Wardrobe, A.C. Ayers and John Magley – who offered 160 acres of land to a group of families living in the area who wanted to establish a school for their children. At the same time the Central Pacific Railroad was in the process of expanding towards that region, which was in part motivation for the pioneers – they saw the potential for a town and some trade. All this happen in 1859.

The town was called Mokelumne after a nearby river of the same name in those early days but since there were other towns similarly named. Settling on a new name was not easy though. According to Wikipedia, “Several stories have been offered as to the origins of the town’s new name. One refers to a locally stabled trotting horse that had set a four-mile (6 km) record, but as the horse reached the peak of its fame in 1869, it is unlikely that the notoriety would have still been evident in 1873. Alternatively, Lodi is a city in northern Italy where Napoleon defeated the Austrians in 1796 and won his first military victory. More than likely, some of the earliest settler families were from Lodi, Illinois, and they chose to use the same name as their hometown.” The city was eventually incorporated in 1906 and by 1911 it had its own fire station.

Unlike many areas in California that are hilly, Lodi is made up of flatlands. The land has historically been used for grazing and grain production but today a lot of it has been converted into residential and commercial buildings. Lodi has cool, wet and foggy winters while the summers and very warm and dry.


Initially, the inhabitants of Lodi made their livings by working in sawmill, flour mill, vineyards, orchards, and cattle ranching. The sawmill relied on logs that were floated down the Mokelumne river from high up in the Sierra Mountains. Eventually grapes were introduced and inhabitants were pleased to see that they thrived there – sooner or later there were plenty of vineyards on the area. It is interesting to note that for a short while farmers abandoned vines in favor of wheat and watermelons but logistical problems forced them to go back to vineyards. At the beginning of the last century large manufactures had laid roots there, including At the beginning of the last century large manufactures had laid roots there, including Pinkerton Foundry, Lodi Truck Service, the Lodi Iron Works, Pacific Coast Producers, Holz Rubber Company, Valley Industries, and Goehring Meat Company.

If you are moving to Lodi today to look for a job you will be happy to know that it has several sizeable employers. The Lodi Unified School District is the biggest one, but you can also get a job with the Lodi Memorial Hospital, Pacific Coast Producers, Blue Shield of California, General Mills just to name but a few.

Who leaves in Lodi?

The people who live in Lodi are mostly professionals – they are in the service industry, sales, office workers, teacher, medical professionals and so on. The population is ethnically diverse, with most races represented. Since it has a small town feel to it people are friendly and will interact with others without reluctance. The average income is about $90,000 and real estate prices are on average lower than the state average. There are many foreigners living in Lodi – about 20% of the population. Crime is lower than the average rate in California. The small town has proved attractive to foreigners.

Things to do in Lodi

There is lots that you can do in Lodi. To start with, the outdoors is pleasant most of the year so you can head outside and organize some recreation for yourself. That said, there are certain activities that are loved by visitors and locals alike.

Wine tasting

The city has more than 85 wineries and many of these produce expert wines. You will find more than Zifandel – there are vineyards today that make Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the best is Mettler Family Vineyards. According to, “The Mettler family has been growing grapes in Lodi for five generations, and recently worked with California universities to research which grape varieties grow best in Lodi’s climate, so you could say they know a bit about Lodi wine. They specialize in Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah, and the wines are all concentrated, elegant expressions of Lodi’s character. Their recently renovated tasting room offers a relaxing space to enjoy their wines and to learn about Lodi history and winemaking.” Don’t limit yourself to just this one – there are shuttle services that can drive you to 12 wineries in a day.

Go shopping in downtown Lodi

You will find everything there from clothing boutiques, car chops, old fashioned delis, antiques. A tip from “Check out the up-and-coming Sacramento Street, just one block east of School Street, where a parking garage has been transformed into a hub of restaurants, boutiques, and bars.”

Bird watching

Those who prefer to have a quieter time of things might like to head out to the nature preserves around Lodi – they are a haven for many different species of birds en-route from Canada and Alaska. You can see Greater and Lesser Sandhill Cranes, American White Pelican, Western Flycatcher, and many more. There is a Zoo with exotic animals that you can visit, as well as a Japanese tea garden where you can enjoy a variety of quaint delicacies.

Indulge your taste buds

There are many restaurants in Lodi, fancy and every day. That said, there are `some that stand out. One of them is Avenue Grill. Courtesy of “Hearty American breakfasts and lunches are served here by a super friendly waitstaff. It’s not your typical sleek wine country restaurant—easy to miss as it’s tucked away in a shopping center—it’s mostly a local’s hangout. However, visitors in the know come here to fill up before heading out for a day of wine tasting. The outdoor deck is dog-friendly, so bring your pooch!”

This is not all there is to do in Lodi, CA. There is plenty more exciting stuff whether you are simply passing through or becoming a permanent resident.