Suisun Valley in the Winter

The rains had stopped for a few hours on a Sunday in January.  I say “rains”, plural, because in a month we had four, five, or more storms roll across our skies; pouring rain, drizzling rain, steady rain.  There was a feeble suggestion of a sun break from my local weather forecast, but rain or shine on this day I was going out just to get away for awhile.  I was craving the ease of a Sunday drive, pulled out my colorful map of Suisun Valley and ventured forth with sunny memories of the summer and the farmer’s markets.

Suisun Valley is a small agricultural jewel just off Hwy 80, west of the city of Fairfield.  The farmers and vintners of the valley have worked together to welcome visitors to their rural community.  There is an excellent website, www.SuisunValley.com that offers plenty of information about the farm stands, wineries and events of the valley.  You can download a map of the area and local attractions, or pick one up at the Suisun Valley Wine Coop, on Suisun Valley Road where the journey begins. I started out on Suisun Valley Road to make my way from Rockville Corner north and loop around the valley.

My mission was to find the farm stands that stay open year round.  The website and map lists the farm stands and the days and hours

The Vegetable Patch

they are open.  From Suisun Valley Road I turned east onto Rockville Road and headed to The Vegetable Patch.  I was planning to gather winter root veggies for roasting.  Family owned and operated for over 29 years the bright indoor farm stand is well-stocked with veggies, dried fruits, jams, fresh farm eggs and local breads.  I consider it a special opportunity to get out in the blustery, winter weather and be able to pick up farm fresh produce right from this stand.  From The Vegetable Patch I doubled back toward the roundabout on Rockville Road, turning onto Abernathy Road to continue north. Satisfied with my veggie purchase, I was headed next to Cal Yee Farms for their famous dried fruits and nuts.

As I drove along Abernathy Road I experienced the remarkable environment of this valley; a bit of a step back in time.  Large wooden farmhouses surrounded by fruit trees, a classic 1953 Chevy parked in the driveway, the smell of wood smoke from a fireplace or stove in the air. In January the yellow mustard blossoms were already covering the fields between the bare gray trees and brown grapevines.  A damp drizzly mist hung low over the fields, the atmosphere brightened by the sunny mustard. The Suisun Valley is what sustainability is all about.  The residents of this small rural area are bestowed a country life just fifteen minutes from the suburban bustle of Fairfield and Vallejo. In the 20th century this area provided an abundance of fruits, nuts, vegetables and dairy products for the surrounding counties.  Some orchards have been replaced with vineyards, still important agriculture that sustains the open, pastoral environment while providing hospitality and world-class wines on into the future.  The Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association are working together to enhance the opportunities for locals and visitors to enjoy, literally, the fruits of their labor.  Throughout the winter months several wineries offer special events and regular weekend hours for wine tasting.  The “kickoff” in spring for exceptional wine tasting is the Suisun Valley Passport Sunday in April.  Sign up for the valley’s e-newsletter at www.SuisunValley.com to keep informed of what’s happening in the valley throughout the year.  For information on the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association visit www.SVVGA.com

Along Abernathy Road I found Ledgewood Creek Winery and just had to stop in for a tasting.  I was delighted to try their first Pinot Noir, the grapes grown right in the Suisun Valley. I will return in the spring and summer to lounge around the outdoor patio with expansive views of the vineyards and hillsides.  http://www.LedgewoodCreek.com

When I arrived at my final destination of Cal Yee Farms I stocked up on a colorful assortment of dried persimmons, sulfate-free dried papaya and bags of almonds.  Cal Yee Farms is a long-standing Suisun Valley family business.  They have provided generations with their vibrant holiday and special occasion gifts and baskets of fruit confections for over 50 years.

Suisun Valley is easily accessible by car and better yet, quite easily accessible for beautiful bike rides throughout the spring, summer and fall.  From San Francisco and the East Bay you can take your bikes on BART and Amtrak and within an hour and a half arrive at the Fairfield Amtrak station.  As noted on the SVVGA blog: “The Amtrak station is in Suisun City, just a couple miles southeast of Suisun Valley.  There is a local bicycle shop on Suisun Valley Road if mechanicals arise.  This journey is also feasible from the Sacramento metro, not to mention a quick day trip down from Davis, the bicycle capital of the west coast.”

As I headed back out to Hwy 80 to return home I was so pleasantly satisfied with my Sunday drive! The rain held off for me and not only did I get a chance to get out and about, I was returning with a bounty of locally grown produce, fine wine and stocked up with healthy snacks for a couple of weeks. Never fear the doldrums of a dreary winter, Suisun Valley beckons with warm hospitality and tastes of sunshine, perfect for a weekend journey.

Cal Yee Farms

Ledgewood Creek Winery

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