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Jan. 15, 2008
Contact: Jeff Hood, communications specialist, (209) 333-6801

SJCOG Regional Excellence Awards go to Lodi nominees

The City of Lodi has been selected by the San Joaquin Council of Governments to receive the Robert J. Cabral Leadership Award for the city's partnership with the local wine industry in developing a downtown wine-tasting room.

City of Lodi nominees are receiving two of SJCOG's five annual awards. The other city nominee, the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, will receive the Environment Award for the Lodi Rules, a program that provides an opportunity for winegrape growers to have their farming practicing certified as sustainable.

SJCOG, a regional planning agency, will present the awards to the City of Lodi and the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission during ceremonies Feb. 22 at Hutchins Street Square. Entries were judged on how they provided a model that benefited the region, displayed innovation and cost-effectiveness, and improved the community.

"Good things are happening in Lodi," Lodi City Manager Blair King said. "We're excited that others in San Joaquin County recognize the efforts the city and the local winegrape growers are making that have long-term benefits for the Lodi region."

Lodi partnered with three wineries -- Van Ruiten Family Winery, Jessie's Grove Winery and Michael-David Vineyards -- to open "cellardoor," at 21 N. School St., in early 2007. The wineries needed a way to meet the state's increasingly stringent wastewater discharge rules, and the city was looking for more downtown wine-tasting rooms. The wineries joined to open cellardoor, in return for the ability to discharge their industrial wastewater to Lodi's White Slough Regional Water Pollution Control Facility (paying an out-of-city surcharge).

The Lodi Rules, crafted by the nearly 800-member Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, became the first third-party-certified sustainable winegrape-growing program in the State of California. The commission hopes to have 7,000 acres from the 2007 crop certified as grown under the Lodi Rules, which emphasizes practices that reduce pesticide applications. The Lodi Rules benefit the environment and growers who are looking not only to reduce costs, but reach a growing segment of consumers looking for earth-friendly products.

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