Yuba and Sutter counties define food, festivals, fun

Yuba Sutter Pumpkin FarmPlan your taste of Yuba-Sutter during autumn when harvests and seasonal festivals are abundant. 
Highways and country roads link Yuba and Sutter counties to history-rich communities. A short drive from Sacramento, Gold Rush-era towns and multi-generational farmlands overlap in a most delicious way.  From the Central Valley -- California’s agricultural heartland – to Sierra Nevada foothills, Yuba and Sutter’s proverbial plate overflows with both farm-to-fork and cultural and outdoor recreation delights!

Stop by Visit Yuba-Sutter’s visitor center for regional maps and brochures including the North Yuba Grown farm trail map, a guiding light to farm stands, wineries, and locavore shops north of Marysville. Soil, Cordi Winery Live Oak 2015 Credit Barbara L Steinberg4topography and climate inspire hand-crafted wines from Renaissance, Lucero and Clos Saron – Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – and olive oils from Apollo and Athena’s Grove do the region proud. A feast for your senses, explore local art and seasonal fare at Yuba Harvest.  The crème de la crèmeof tasty must-dos, the North Yuba Harvest Festival features more than 50 vendors.

Along Highway 99 in Sutter County, the striped awning above Stephen’s Farmhouse beckons. Farm-fresh pies and cookies, jellies and jams, pickled veggies of all kinds, and seasonal produce and walnuts will tempt the most discerning palate. Your favorite pooch will love the homemade Snicker Poodles.

Find the “Great Pumpkin” of your dreams at Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland. Old-fashioned hayrides and u-pick pumpkins, a historic carousel and fresh-baked cookies are just the beginning. Nearby, Salle Orchards offers more tastes of Yuba-Sutter year-round. Autumn means persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins and 27 varieties of apples. 

Sutter Buttes HikeDrive, hike or bike the Sutter Buttes, the world’s smallest mountain range. Ancient volcanic soils and cool breezes breathe life into Cordi Winery’s grapes and award-winning wines.  Bring a picnic and enjoy the view. Continue on scenic back roads to Sutter and the Sutter Buttes Natural & Artisan Foods. Bring an appetite for olive oils, infused vinegars, gourmet mustards, and dipping sauces. Among many award-winning products, their Blood-Orange Brownie Kit brought home Sofi gold at the 2015 New York Fancy Food Show. You can bring it home, too! In late November, look for Moody’s Middle Mountain Mandarins self-serve farm stand.

Lose yourself at the Sikh Festival, possibly the largest cultural event in California. The first Sunday in November, it’s a cacophony of color and aromas. Each November, harvested rice fields attract migrating Swan Festival  Credit David Rosenwildlife. Along with thousands of tundra swans, nature enthusiasts arrive to celebrate at the annual California Swan Festival. Guided tours include Gray Lodge Wildlife Refuge and Sutter Buttes.  An unparalleled experience, the Buttes’ privately owned lands are accessible only through Middle Mountain Interpretive Hikes. 

Birding and hiking is a hungry business. Yelp reviewers love AJ’s Sandwiches, an easy stroll from Swan Festival H.Q.  Chow down on Farmers Hand BlackBerries Yuba Suttergourmet burgers and specialty sandwiches with a side of pesto frips!  Where, oh where to taste more? In Yuba City and Marysville, The Cookie Tree and The Candy Box are sweets central.  GPS yourself to New Earth Market, Oregon House Grocery & Deli, and The Crave. Among scrumptious treats you’ll find J▪Heier Farms blackberry jams, Sunsweet prunes, North Yuba Bread, and POM pomegranate to satiate locavore retail therapy. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Dancing Tomato Caffé’s daily mantra is farm-to-table.

With so many tasty options, make Yuba-Sutter a play and stay getaway. Many tasting rooms, country stores, and farms are Yuba Sutter Logo seasonal or open weekends only. Always call ahead for days and hours of operation.







Capay Valley farm trail leads to new Séka Hills Tasting Room

Seka Hills Capay Valley Brooks Calfiornia 2015 Credit Barbara L Steinberg SizedGrand Opening Information

Take the long and winding road up Capay Valley to local farms, wineries, and restaurants. Breath it in, slowly, and enjoy.  Capay Valley is a place of pure joy! And it just got more joyful! The new Séka Hills Tasting Room is the reason. This beautiful new facility is state-of-the-art but thoughtfully and spiritually designed. From the outside, the industrial design is that of a large barn -- inside and out it is stunning. Wide open spaces full of sunlight and creatively conceived. The tasting room floors are the most fantastic reclaimed barn wood. The tasting bar is chic but respectful of the natural surroundings. Okay, I'm done waxing poetic.

To the important issues: olive oil, wine, and honey -- all locally grown, sourced, created, presented and delicious! The estate-grown Arbequina extra virgin California olive oil is sublime. Harvested locally the olives are milled at the 14,000 square foot Séka Hills olive mill facility. Add to this wine tasting Séka Hills wines and handcrafted local wildflower honey -- yes, definitely a 5-star Seka Hills Capay Valley Brooks Calfiornia 2015 Credit Barbara L Steinberg16experience.

The Tasting Room also features many Capay Valley seasonal nuts and produce as well as Made in California gift items including Fire & Light Handmade Glass. It's a perfect destination to eat, drink, shop, and be merry. A shaded and welcoming patio has picnic tables to enjoy lunch or snacks.

Long and narrow, Capay Valley it is framed by the California Blue Ridge Mountains and the Capay Hills. Owned and operated by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the blue hills inspired the name Séka Hills -- Séka means 'blue" in the Tribe's naitve Patwin language.

19326 Country Road 78
Brooks, CA 95606
(530) 796-2810

 Are You That Woman @California Travel Insider

Solano Grown only in Solano County is grown with love

Escape to Solano Grown via back roads of Solano County. The borders of Solano County include some of northern California's prettiest agriculutal lands and open spaces. Climate controled by Delta and Bay breezes, the rolling hills and fertile valleys have been truly blessed. Visit small farms, farm stands and markets, and wineries. Sample olive and walnut oils, dried fruits and nuts. Farm-to-fork has a stronghold here. Lavender oils and wreaths, handspun wool, and local art. Make it a day trip or overnight. You'll be back again and again.


Shop local this holiday season

Grown or Made in California by Barbara L. Steinberg

Brannigans Woodland1My continued quests to shop local and only Made in the USA has continued. Other then a few odds and ends, my entire retail experience has included products only from these American shores. As I contemplated my Thanksgiving feast, there was never any question that my turkey would be local. This year I decided it really would be farm fresh. Branigan's Turkey Farm in Woodland, California. The drive would include some of my favorite back roads -- so score on both counts. Even the rain didn't dampen my locavore spirit.

 Berryessa Gap Winery & Tasting Room tugs from Highway 128.  Berryessa Brewing Company at the same location makes this a double-hitter. The destination is extremely popular with bicyclists who love to brave the hills and curves of Yolo and Solano counties along Highway 128. The winery also has a tasting room in downtown Winters.

Locavore cravings have one last destination pegged at Ikeda's just off Interstate 80 at Mace Boulevard in Davis. Anyone who has ever shopped Ikeda's knows it is lcoavore Heaven on earth. Fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade tamales, pies, fresh-roasted coffee, salsas, tortillas, coffee cakes, cheeses, meats, poultry. You always buy something more than you intended. It's all so freaking delicious.

A speck of sunshine is breaking through the clouds. But more wet weather is ahead. I turned my Subaru east and headed up the road. An excellent day and happy for the contributions made to local economies.

This Local Locavore Shops Yolo & Solano Counties Slideshow: Barbara’s trip to 3 cities including and Davis was created with TripAdvisor TripWow!

Agritourism is About People Getting Close to the Land

California's Small Farms & Ranches are Agritourism Friendly 
Story & Photos by Barbara L. Steinberg


Erickson Ranch Dogs Know the Good Life Credit Barbara Steinberg 2009 Near Fairfield and just off Interstate 80, the turn-in at Erickson Ranch is almost as obscure as the road that leads you there. The driveway, dirt and gravel, is bordered by orchards and aging farm equipment. The “parking  lot” has no striping, but hay bales act as bumpers. Exiting your vehicle, you are likely to be greeted by a pack of tail-wagging farm dogs – old labs, some terriers, and a cheerful pit bull named Rocky.

Farmers Ray and Victoria Erickson lead a life from days-gone by and one that you may envy. A third-generation farmer, Ray’s known farming his entire life; his grandparents farmed this same land.  After a complete remodel, he and Victoria moved back to the family farm about six years ago.  But to maintain this life on the land they work hard. Really hard! Victoria’s day job is that of a full-time RN. While Ray, spends his days plowing, planting, pruning, and picking. During their agritourism season they are open to the public six days a week!

Erickson Cutting Garden Credti Barbara L Steinberg “The ranch has become more of everything,” said Victoria. “Originally it was just a farm stand.” One thing led to another. The Erickson’s increased their dried fruit production – the most popular item is their Blenheim apricots. Then Victoria started making jams and apple butter and they acquired a chili roaster. They also grow cut flowers, which are popular with local brides who cut their own bouquets. According to Victoria, the number of visitors has increased and the visitor type has changed. “It used to be mostly women who were canning and wanted a variety of fruit,” she said. “Now, we’re getting more families – folks who want to see where food comes from. Lots of people from the Bay Area have discovered us.”

A 2009 survey conducted by the UC Davis Small Farm Program (SPF) showed that many of California’s small farms are reaping the benefits of agritourism. Of the 554 responses (2,000 surveys were mailed), 332 farmers identified themselves as conducting agricultural tourism. “The total number of respondents hosted more than 2.4 million tourists,” said Penny Leff, SPF Agtourism Coordinator. “But this doesn’t account for the farmers who didn’t respond. Clearly there are many more people visiting. The Dell'Osso Pumpkin Maze in Lathrop had 140,000 visitors last year. That’s a huge number!”

According to the survey, farmers are looking to increase revenues from direct sales and/or event fees.  More farms are figuring out how to do weddings – especially wineries – and events in orchards. The survey found that pumpkin patches and corn mazes have become incredibly popular.  Erickson’s has a small pumpkin patch as one of their seasonal offerings.  Not far away in Dixon, Cool Patch Pumpkins’ roadside pumpkin stand has evolved into the “world’s largest corn maze” authenticated by the Guinness World Book of Records.  The combined effort attracts thousands of people each year. 

“Wineries are still the most popular part of agritourism,” according to Penny Leff.  “The wineries taught everyone else...set an example...of how to do it." To prove her point, try a visit to Fairfield’s Suisun Valley. Equidistant between Sacramento and San Francisco, just a few years ago there were only two tasting rooms in  Fairfield Suisun Valley Vezer Family Vineyard Sign Credit Ba the valley. The numbers are multiplying and agritourism is flourishing. Vezér Family Vineyard and Blue Victorian Winery owned by Frank and Liz Vezér are but two of the newcomers. The wineries welcome guests to their tasting rooms and provide a spectacular backdrop for weddings, meetings, and concerts. Both the Blue Victorian and Ledgewood Creek (another Suisun Valley winery) offer guests and groups the rare occasion to enjoy the agricultural setting, a wonderful glass of wine, and a little bocce ball.

Training Rush Ranch Nature Center Courtesy of Solano Land Trust Agritourism is also about education. Rush Ranch Open Space and the Center for Land Based Learning are prime examples. Both offer educational opportunities on the importance of farming and the preservation of the land. Interpretive displays, living history, wagon rides, docent-led hikes, and team building opportunities are closely tied to agritourism programs and bringing guests close to the land. Craig McNamara, owner of Sierra Orchards, founded the Center to educate students about agriculture.  “Educational field days elicit a huge amount interest even with adults to come see the farm,” said Marion Adams, Center for Land Based Learning. “And there’s a huge trend for farm weddings.” Revenues generated from special events help support both nonprofits.

Day-of coordinator Genevieve Roja, owner of Lily Spruce, loves the Center for Land Based Learning. “The facility is gorgeous – the 100-year-old house is and a huge olive tree-lined drive leading up to house. It’s like something from a movie,” she said. “Some clients are more thoughtful andI  encourage them to use as much local produce as possible. Someone who interested in recycling and composting.“ All of this is part of the Center’s philosophy, too.

CFairfield Suisun Valley  Ray Erickson Credit Barbara Steinberg 2010ommunity Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the growing trend for smaller farms according to Penny Leff.  “You become a member and get fresh produce delivered from the farm.” The CSAs have open-house days for members and invite you to the farm and do tours. “It’s a direct connection to fresh food and a place for families to visit,” said Penny.  Eat Well Farms near the Center for Land Based Learning does everything from Summer Solstice to Pumpkin Harvest events for their members. 

The “from farm to table” principles are growing and many more people are seeking out local farms and agricultural programs as getaways. Farm and wine trails exist as far south as San Diego County and in Tehama County to the north.

Back at Erickson Ranch, a tall and lanky Ray is the picture-perfect farmer. Torn jeans, mustache, and broad-brimmed hat. “People come here to see Ray,” says Victoria. “They want to talk to the person who does this and Ray loves to share his story.”

Sacra-Tomato move over for Vaca-Tomato


Magical Mendocino County

We All Need More Mendocino

Long and Winding Roads Lead to Mendocino County Credit Barbara Steinberg 2009 The long and winding road to Mendocino County isn’t all that long. Roaming some of California’s most pastoral back roads, past rustic farmlands and small towns, Mendocino only seems far away. That’s half the allure. The other half is its untamed and undisturbed beauty. The landscapes, the views, the breathtaking coastline…Mendocino is more of what we need! More of everything that makes for a tranquil and splendid retreat.

The getaway begins along scenic byways that provide spectacular distractions. The favorite road less-traveled (especially from Sacramento or Napa) would be the length of Highway 128. Meander up the Napa Valley, past endless vineyards and fields. From Cloverdale to the redwood giants of Navarro, the road twists and turns. Take it slow and enjoy every moment. After all, you’re heading to the place where “back in the day” people went to escape and drop-out. Those same adventurers fashioned the eclectic, art-centric, and natural lifestyle so many of us seek. Mendocino County long-ago embraced their organic roots, and so will you.

Pace yourself. There’s so much to see, eat, and drink! Highway 128 winds through bucolic Anderson Valley. A small but mighty American Viticulture Area (AVA), it reads like a who’s who of wineries: Goldeneye, Husch, Navarro, Roederer, and Scharffenberger; all pretty heady stuff and just a few of the outstanding wineries in the valley. 

Mosswood Sign Passing through the counter-cultural town of Boonville, stop at the Mosswood Market for the first of many culinary pleasures. Over and over you will hear the refrain, “handmade, homemade, freshly made, and locally made.” Mendocino County has been living locavore for decades and aren’t you glad? A fresh Meyer lemon, artichoke Panini, small salad, and a home-baked cookie are lovely beside a glass of local Pinot Noir.

Next stop along the route is Goldeneye Winery, where, according to Wine Spectator, "Pinot Noir is king!" Just a few miles away in Philo, Goldeneye provides a perfect setting to wine and dine – well, picnic in this case. A yummy wine flight beside vineyard views and you feel yourself melting into the Mendocino pace. The annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival is hosted at Goldeneye in May. Just one of the county’s many eco-friendly wineries, Mendocino County is known as “America’s greenest wine region!”

Once you reach Highway 1 you will be swept away by rugged headlands, vast expanses of Mendocino Coast, crashing waves, blue skies, and a sense of freedom. Inhale deeply. Some of California’s most remarkable state parks – 22 to be exact – provide extraordinary opportunities to relax and unwind. Ocean and river beaches, redwoods, waterfalls, sand dunes, grasslands, and a historic lighthouse are all part of Mendocino’s magic.

There is no end to the captivating places to slumber and feast without restarting your car. Each offers its own brand of green living, style and grace…past and present. Farming’s past has blessed the Glendeven Inn & Wine Bar[n] in Little River. Original buildings, circa 1867, house plush suites many with ocean views. The stylish Wine Bar[n], yes, in the old barn, features local wines and art. Evening wine-tastings and hors d'oeuvres are a sign of good things to come. Breakfast baskets delivered to your suite include farm-fresh eggs laid by Glendeven’s brood of chickens. Homemade scones and fresh-squeezed orange juice…life on the farm is good! Enjoy a quiet moment overlooking the gardens, the surf, and a pack of docile llamas.

Through Glendeven’s gate, literally, you cross over to the contemporary, 10-room AAA 4-diamond Stevenswood Spa Resort. Surrounded by towering trees, this chic inn and eco-friendly spa endorses the farm-to-table lifestyle. Local chef, Patrick Meany, is at the helm of the Zagat-rated Stevenswood restaurant. Every item is a freshly-made and crafted gastronomic work of art. Imagine…homemade sea salt accompanies local olive oil and house-baked breads. These people are serious about their locavore existence! Oh, and very pet-friendly, too! Four legs or less…inquire within.

Just north, Brewery Gulch Inn personifies the concept of recycling. Built from old-growth redwoods, the trees were eco-salvaged from the Big River. These imposing timbers are the heart and soul of the 10-room inn. An evening reception of local wines, beers, and a variety of inn-made specialties is a gourmand’s delight.

With pounding surf below, the Albion River Inn overlooks the Albion River and Pacific Ocean. Words fail to describe the dramatic cliff-top vistas. However, room with a view defines all 22 cottages and suites. The oceanfront restaurant building dates back to 1919, but the cuisine is all about the here and now. Executive Chef Stephen Smith is known for his award-winning ‘coastal cuisine.’ Like so many other culinary masters, his creations are inspired by Mendocino’s bounty, from land and sea. An intimate corner bar flaunts a single-malt scotch selection compared to none – more than 150. Tastings – a flight of four ½-ounce shots – is a “virtual tour” of Scotland’s finest distilleries.

Mendocino Coast Credit Bruce Lewis Viewed from across the headlands or up-close and personal, the tiny Village of Mendocino is postcard perfect. Its Victorian splendor is frozen in time, but fantastically evolved. Tucked away on Ukiah Street, a yellow cottage and gardens conceals the acclaimed Café Beaujolais. For many years, the café has been a food-lovers destination. Seasonal menus showcase the freshest ingredients from near and far; Beaujolais’ “brickery breads” deserve their world-famous status; and award-winning Dungeness crab cakes are a café specialty.

In Fort Bragg, feed your garden spirit with a visit to the 47-acre Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, the only public garden that sits directly on the Pacific Ocean. The many gardens – perennial, Mediterranean, heather, dahlia, vegetable, rhododendrons – flourish in the ocean air. More than 400 dahlias put on a stunning display July through August. As if the gardens weren’t enough, more than 150 bird species and bluff-top whale watching are reasons to stop by.

Mendocino County Fort Bragg Skunk Train 3 year old Brian and Dad David Enjoy a Moment Creidt Barbara Steinberg 2009 5 In our hurried world, the slow-moving Skunk Train is a delightful way to decelerate and let go. This historic 1911 transit system, known as the crookedest track in the West, ambles past primordial redwoods and fern canyons along the Noyo River. The trip from Fort Bragg to North Spur is truly a journey back in time. Summer trains include a barbecue and entertainment at the North Spur station. Oregonians, Rick and Terri Korner, were loving their first Skunk Train experience. “It’s delightful…we’re so glad it’s still here,” said Terri. And it’s a wonderful way for parents and children to reconnect – joyful moments captured between David and three-year-old son Brian were testament to that.

There’s so much more to remember. The ebb and flow of the Pacific tides, the gentle cooing of a mourning dove, and a small circle of forget-me-nots…who could forget Mendocino?

For more information, visit: www.GoMendo.com or www.MendocinoFun.com and Slide Show

Mendocino County Crab & Wine Days – January
Mendocino Coast Whale Festivals - March
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival - May
Mendocino Film Festival – June
Annual Mendocino Coast Home & Garden Tour - June
Annual Summer Arts & Craft Fair, Mendocino - July
Mendocino Coast Music Festival - July
Pure Mendocino Celebration, Premier Organic Food &  Wine Festival - August
Winesong!, Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, Fort Bragg – September
Mendocino Wine & Mushroom Festival - November

Post holiday celebrations in Fairfield's Suisun Valley


Keep the Holiday Spirits Alive...Literally! by Barbara L. Steinberg

So, it's the 26th of December -- are you feeling those day-after holiday blues? All that pretty wrapping paper is now just so much trash. Maybe you're not part of the post-holiday sales crowd frenzy...enough retail already! But you've got family in town (or not) and you're just looking for that something special to maintain the seasonal glow. Well, that "something" is about 50 miles away in Fairfield's Suisun Valley.

December 26 - 27, 2009 celebrate the 3rd annual Suisun Valley Anniversary Weekend. This wine tasting adventure honors Suisun Valley's 27 years as an official AVA (American Viticultural Area). One of California's lesser-known wine regions, Suisun Valley is small but offers amazing opportunities to enjoy great wines and beautiful scenery...and it's just so close, convenient, and uncrowded. What a fantastic after-the-fact gift to yourself and that special someone (or someones) in your life.

December 26th & 27th
12 pm – 5 pm
$5.00 fee includes Anniversary Weekend Logo Glass, Special Tastings & Small Bites
Purchase tickets at participating Suisun Valley Tasting Rooms during event hours or in advance

Winemakers Dinner

Visit with the Winemakers and taste their Suisun Valley wines
Tuesday, December 29th
Clubhouse at Rancho Solano
Reception 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Dinner 7: 30 pm – 9 pm
$75.00 Advanced Sales Only

Particiating Wineries
Ledgewood Creek Winery
Tenbrink Vineyards
Winterhawk Winery
Wooden Valley Winery
Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative
  Blacksmith Cellars
  King Andrews Vineyards
  Mangels Vineyards
  Sunset Cellars


OWAC Logo BATW CA Watchable

Pumpkin Patch open in Fairfield California's Suisun Valley

Suisun Valley Pumpkin Patch is Fun for Everyone

Pumplkin Located inFairfield, California just off Interstate 80, Suisun Valley is a short drive from Sacramento. It's the perfect time of year to visit. Vineyards are at their autumn best with colorful fall foliage. With recent rains, the valley will be greening up soon. Enjoy the drive...stay for the fun!

More than 25 varieties of pumpkins, gourds, squash, ornamental corn and more for all of your fall decorating needs!

The Suisun Valley Pumpkin Patch
Open daily until Sunday, November 01, 2009.
10 AM - 6 PM
Admission is $3
Children 4 and under are FREE!

Includes five-acre corn maze, scarecrow gallery, pumpkin monster, hay pyramid, pumpkin bowling, picnic area. Lots of parking!

For Directions:  4443 Suisun Valley Road

Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory One-Day Sale in Petaluma/Sonoma County


Sales-Specials_timg[1] It's a Sticker Extravaganza! 
Mrs. Grossman's One-day Summer Warehouse Sale!
Drastic Reductions! Way Below Wholesale!

All you scrapbook fans won't want to miss this sticker sale!


9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
3810 Cypress Drive
Petaluma, California

  • Stuck on Pets – retail: $4.99  sale: $1.00
  • Lezaire Handcrafted Albums –retail: $19.95  sale: 2 for $5.00
  • Stickers on Rolls – retail: $25-$50  sale: $3.00
  • Lunch Box Notes – retail: $3.00  sale: $1.00
  • Sticker Bingo -  retail: $10.00  sale: $3.50
  • Stickerific Activity Kits – retail: $10.00  sale: $3.50
  • 25 sheets 12”x12” Vellum and Card Stock Paper – retail: $18.75  sale: $2.00
  • Create Your Own Adventure Kits – retail: $6.00  sale: $2.50
  • Ribbon Balls – retail: $8.00  sale: $2.00
  • Sticker Rolls in a Clear Clamshell – retail: $90.00  sale: $7.50

For directions visit their website at:  www.MrsGrossmans.com

Because of very crowded conditions
Please - no strollers and we recommend keeping precious toddlers at home

Extra Added Attraction!
From 9:00 to 1:00 Dogs from the Sonoma County Humane Society will be Available for Adoption.
They would love to see you and, perhaps, one of them just might be right for your family.
 Woof! Woof!