How many times have you driven – well, perhaps speeding a bit – along the two-lane curves of Highway 88 through San Joaquin County? The road is framed in summer by golden fields interspersed with vineyard greenery. Sometimes we all need to slow down and take in the view. Really see the place. Miles of Highway 88 include small unincorporated Stockton towns – Waterloo for one. There’s a longer story here for another time, but today the focus is wine. Yes, vino. Elixir of the gods by many standards. Got your attention now, right?
The “Open” flag fluttering in the wind reaches out to zooming motorists. Often I am among the speeding, hurrying on to some other more important destination. Or so I think. But not at the present. Today, “Open” is my destination and make the turn at Sorelle Winery. I have seen the sign before. Driving into the comforting scene of a historic home, rolling lawns and vineyards the question of, “Why haven’t I stopped before?” resounds.
Signs directing to visitor parking wind past the historic Dodge House. Beautifully preserved, the expansive porch and whicker chairs leave me pining for my Southern roots and possibly a little more R&R on this warm summer day. Rounding the house and hedges, the 1800s-barn-style tasting room comes into full view. Black wrought-iron tables and chairs shaded by a festoon of black and white umbrellas – okay, it’s time to pull in and stop.
The tasting room belies its age. Newly built circa 2010, it’s old in every sense of the word having utilized salvaged wood and windows in the construction – truly a labor of love. You’ll feel welcomed and comforted by its rustic appeal. An old table and school benches are wonderfully chic. Salvage is so environmentally friendly and green – who knew wine tasting could be so PC.
Sorelle translated from Italian means “sister” but this is clearly a family and friends affair. On a Monday afternoon you’ll find Lindy, a neighbor and Sorelle wine club member, volunteering behind the pour. “Eric (my husband) and I lived here 10 years and had never been wine tasting. The 2009 Sangiovese hooked us and is what brought us back. We have a once a week wine-tasting date, but Sorelle is our place!” The Dodge House property was purchased in 2007 by Mike Scott with his wife Joanne whose Italian lineage inspires their wines. Daughters Kim and Melissa are the Sorelle sisters. Vineyards were planted and the tasting room opened in September 2010. That’s hustling to get the job done. All the wines were Italian with estate varietals Sangiovese and Barbera grown at Sorelle. Then in 2013, Sorelle expanded their vino flights with a luscious Chardonnay. That same year, Sacramento’s Mike Dunne – wine critic to the gods – gave a nod to Sorelle Winery 2011 Lodi Sogno Dolce Sangiovese Rosato. High praise!
Boundaries are sometimes confusing. Just a stone’s throw from Waterloo and part of the Lodi-Woodbridge AVA, Sorelle’s address is unincorporated Stockton and they happily claim that moniker. Visit the Sorelle website for tasting room hours Thursday-Friday. The winery is also available for weddings and special events. Shaded picnic tables invite you to bring lunch or snacks and relax in your new backyard. Oh, yes, don’t forget to sample the wine slushies made with Pinot Grigio – a “fan favorite” according to Lindy. Perfect on a warm summer day. Well, any day if the truth be known.
The Rest of the story: My Stockton: Mike Scott, Sorelle Winery, Owner & Winemaker and all around nice guy!