Wine, Chocolate and… Redwood Sculptures?

     One wouldn’t normally think of a Best Western hotel/motel as a tourist attraction. Like most of the major national chains, it’s simply a place to get a good night’s sleep on the way from one locale to another.

     But there’s a Best Western in Sacramento, Calif., that you absolutely must see if you ever find yourself near California’s state capital. It’s the Best Western Sandman, located at 236 Jibboom Street, just off Interstate-5.

     There, you’ll encounter an amazing collection of sculptures sawed and carved out of redwood. Al Sarti is the art patron who envisioned the project, and J. Raven and R. Sandoval are the artists who carried it out.

     Walk around the grounds of the motel, and you’ll see highly detailed sculptures of everything from bears to mountain men, ranging in size from 4 to 25 feet.

     “I dreamed of this project for a long time,” Sarti says. “Bears, Indians, buffalo, mountain men and gold miners have always symbolized to me the true California spirit, and I feel this is my spiritual/artistic contribution to the community.”

     That’s all well and good, but what’s a tale of redwood sculptures doing in a wine blog?

     Well, the Best Western Sandman is a convenient place to stay if you’re planning a visit to the Lodi winegrowing region. Lodi is somewhat limited in gourmet dining opportunities, but Sacramento is not. So you could visit the Lodi wineries by day, then grab a good meal in Sacramento before retiring for the night.

     Maps, brochures and other helpful information about Lodi wine country can be found at the Discover Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, located at 2545 West Turner Road. It’s just 35 minutes from Sacramento, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy a casual breakfast, wait for the morning rush hour to subside, and then head south to begin your day of wine touring.

     If you’d like to visit Lodi when there’s some sort of special event taking place, start making plans – now – to attend the Lodi Wine Country Wine & Chocolate Weekend. It will take place February 13-14 (Valentine’s weekend), and more than 40 Lodi area wineries will be pouring wines and offering samples of decadent chocolates.

     Tickets are $45 on the days of the event, but you can save $10 by ordering in advance. For further information, log on to, or call 209-365-0621.

     The price includes a tasting glass and even a chocolate bar – as if you wouldn’t be getting enough of the sweet stuff anyway.

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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