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Oak Farm Vineyards: Quality Wines, Stately Oaks and Local History

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A plot of land that was once rugged and wild in the early 1800s is now home to one of the most breathtaking wineries and historic sites in the Lodi area.

Founded in 1860 by William DeVries and his wife, Cornelia Crowe, the property was originally dubbed Elkhorn Township, but the name was changed to Oak Farm to emphasize that it was one of the few places in the region where the oak trees were actually preserved. Not long after the purchase of this property, the City of Lodi was founded in 1869.

Respect for the Land
DeVries was originally born in Carroll County, Maryland, and chose to migrate to California in 1853 at the young age of 21. Once settled, he became a wheat farmer and cattle rancher; he even became Justice of the Peace and was responsible for enforcing the law. It was the DeVries family who became the first caretakers of the stately oak trees; they were enthusiastic lovers of trees, particularly of oaks, and they never allowed a tree to be cut unless it was a menace.

Today, many of the property’s enormous 400-year-old oaks still stand tall on 70 acres and are one of many notable assets to this flourishing vineyard. Although the oaks are source of much conversation and wonder, Oak Farm Vineyards’ fantastic winery and tasting room are also worth the short drive from the center of Lodi. Varietals grown on the property include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, albariño or finano, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, primitivo, petite sirah, petite verdot, sangiovese and barbera.

“This winery continues to grow every year, and it’s still a very popular gathering place for special occasions,” co-owner and events manager Heather Panella noted. “Along with the Oak Farm Tasting Room and Banquet Center, our renovated Historical Redwood Barn is ideal for weddings, as are our Great Lawn and Rose Garden Patio. This property, with all of its majestic beauty, fine wines and deep history, has become a destination for locals and vacationers alike.”

New Experiences for Visitors
Noting that the winery and vineyards continue to grow and evolve, Heather shared that Oak Farm’s focus in 2017 is to provide their visitors with the most dynamic experience possible. Dan and Heather Panella, along with Dan’s mother, Dorothy, work tirelessly together to provide guests with a classy and relaxing experience. The business has worked hard to upgrade and enhance their reservations systems to include specified areas for private wine tastings and small group gatherings. New and special amenities have been added for Oak Farm’s Wine Club members as well.

“We have some great things happening this year for our Wine Club members,” Heather revealed. “We are focusing on implementing specific changes and enhancements that will make being a club member a more elevated experience. These benefits include private sections of the property that are reserved only for members.”

Open seven days a week, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the property offers a sense of serene privacy and peacefulness that helps guests feel that they truly have escaped to the countryside. The Panellas have added a unique offering that complements the property’s already welcoming atmosphere while also sharing the deep history of the property and what makes it is so special.

Go Back in Time
“We have added the option of hour-long guided historic estate tours to our services as well,” Heather shared. “Visitors can make reservations to stroll past the family home, the original cemetery plot for the DeVries family, the stately old barn and outbuildings while sipping on our signature wines and learning more about the history of Lodi’s wines and the history of the DeVries family, Oak Farms and the Panella family.”

A unique gallery area located inside the Tasting Room displays history of the ranch and collected artifacts. The Panellas have spent the past few years gathering historical details and items connected to the property from the descendants of the DeVries family and other residents with ties to the property, spurred by the purpose of sharing that history with those who walk through the winery’s doors.

“This family-owned winery is committed to creating an enhanced wine experience for Central Valley residents,” Heather concluded. “It’s about family, celebrating the past and creating a venue for friends to gather together over a glass, or a bottle, of our award-winning wines. Oak Farm Vineyards has developed over the years and it’s now known as a retreat where new traditions can begin and old ones can be remembered.”

To learn more about Oak Farm Vineyards, visit them on the web at oakfarmvineyards.com.