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:

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!


Dining in Midtown Sacramento Just Got Fresher

Locavore Magpie Market & Cafe on Sacramento R Street corridor the New Hot Spot Story & Photos by Barbara L. Steinberg©  

The sign of good things to come is already here at the new Magpie Caterers Market & Cafe along the R Street Corridor in Midtown Sacramento. The owners, Janel and Ed, have been faithful followers of the locavore- and sustainable- style of cooking for many years. Both Sacramento natives and locals -- they live nearby in Midtown -- their catering gigs and culinary professions have taken them around the state and across the borders.

Story and photos available for reprint. Contact:

Solano County California Offers Bountiful Holiday Gifts

Solano County Banner

Solano's Bounty isn't Just Seasonal by Barbara L. Steinberg©     

 On just another beautiful day in Solano County, I found myself enjoying good things from the Earth at local farm stands and bakeries.

Previous visits to the region brought me good news about Pure Grain Bakery. I will say this more than once along the way, I am a glutton for great bread. I would rather have a fresh loaf of bread -- warm, crusty, chewy, whole-grains, cheesy, full of raisins, coated in nuts and seeds -- then chocolate cake, fresh cookies, or most any other sweet you can name. I have had Pure Grain breads before, but had no idea this honest-to-goodness German-style bread bakery was nearby.  So during a return trip to the region, I Googled Pure Grain and put the Subaru on remote. 

Pure Grain Bakery Sign Vaca Valley Road Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008 Visiting the "mother ship" in Vacaville,California was akin to Mecca. Located in a commercial district off Vaca Valley Road, it's no wonder I had never passed this bread haven before. But once there, I loaded myself up with a fresh-baked seeded baguette, pumpkinseed and caraway rolls, a Christmas stollen for my father-in-law, some holiday cookies, and one German pretzel to quell my bread cravings. The pastries looked and smelled yummy. Eying the cinnamon rolls, I had to pull myself away. Though small and obscurely located, the bakery was doing a brisk business on Saturday morning. In fact, they had sold out of rye bread to a single customer. Grrrrr...what I wouldn't give for a loaf. Talk about glutton. What about the rest of us poor bread junkies?

Pure Grain Sandwich Sign Vaca Valley Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008As if this wasn't enough punishment, I had to check-out the Pure Grain Cafe's Main Street branch in downtown Vacaville. The place was packed. Not hard to figure out why. Coffee, tea, pastries, bread, and made-to-order sandwiches...moms, dads, kids, friends, out-of-towners (me)...the cafe was humming. And so was I by the time I left.

Pure Grain is family owned and operated by boyhood friends, Michael Miethe and Holger Seibert, Pure Grain Bakery Bread Display Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008graduated from the same high school in a small town near Saarbrucken, Germany. They opened the Vaca Valley bakery in 1991...what more can I say? All the details are available online at Pure Grain Bakery.

After departing with my bread bonanza, I headed into the rolling hills and green fields nearby in Fairfield's Suisun Valley. I have visited many times but I always run out of time before I run out of travel...this is my new favorite phrase. This latest outing I have two very specific places in mind: Willotta Ranch and 99 Cherry Orchard. It's very convenient because they're both on Rockville Road.

The Rest of the Story.....

Fairfield California's Suisun Valley is Farm Fresh Heaven

   Suisun Valley is this Locavore's Delight by Barbara L. Steinberg©                                           

                                                             Susiun valley logo

After departing with my bread bonanza, I headed into the rolling hills and green fields of Suisun Valley. I have visited many times, but I always run out of time before I run out of travel...this is my new favorite phrase. This latest outing I had two very specific places in mind: Willotta Ranch and 99 Cherry Orchard. This was a very convenient because they're both on Rockville Road. And unbelievably, just a few miles from busy Interstate 5 and Fairfield California.

Suisun Valley Willotta Ranch Kiwis Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008 1 The Willotta Ranch was named after William and Loretta (Lottie) Pierce who owned and operated the ranch in the early 1900s.  Their grandson, Lewis Pierce III, introduced Kiwifruit to the ranch in 1972 before it became popular.  Lewis' daughter, Linda Pierce Wedemeyer inherited the ranch in 1991 and operated it for only two years before she died of cancer leaving the ranch in trust to her three children. Linda's husband, Austin, operates the ranch today.

The Willotta Ranch farm stand is open seasonally. Located on Rockville Road inside an old roadside market it doesn't Willota Ranch Kiwifruit Courtesiy of scream, "HEY! The best darn kiwis this side of kiwi heaven!" And organic too, by the way. There's a few small signs along the way directing you. Slow down, enjoy the ride, and don't miss the turn-in. They'll be closing down December 31. They box and ship domestically anywhere you want kiwis to be. Makes a great gift! Margie was there to greet me the day I stopped by. Her family has worked at the ranch for decades. She makes kiwi-pineapple jam and dried kiwi, which is also sold at the stand.

Hurry over! Next year fruit stand is in question as Austin heads off on a newly-wed adventure -- congratulations!We hope that future generations won't be deprived of this Suisun Valley gem. But farming is hard work, requiring lots of dedication. The Willotta Ranch legacy has been all that...and more!

More to come on neighboring 99 Cherry Orchard...stay tuned.

California Made Grace Note Chimes Mariposa

Let the Wind Chimes   by Barbara L. Steinberg© 

California Grace Note Windchimes Mariposa Hear the most heavenly on the wind chime images...harmonically tuned aluminum...longer, clearer reresonance. I tell you, once you've heard a Grace Note Chime you'll always know this incredible tone.  With a long history (nearly 20 years), the business was born out of the inspiration and dreams of brothers Jeff & Mark Kile. And a long, successful history it's been. But this talented California duo still creates their magic in the small community of Mariposa California not far from Yosemite National Park. A non-descript warehouse along scenic Hwy. 49 and the backroads of California's Gold Country.

The chimes are addictive and have a dedicated following. With prices California made Grace Note Petite Windchimeranging from $53 to hundreds of dollars, lovers of Grace Note are true fans. You too can own one, two, or more of these fabulous California made windchimes...a lyrical work of art. The chimes are available  and also at the Grace Note facility in Mariposa  California. And at this time of year, Grace Note offers incredible discounts at the Mariposa location and online.

On November 29, on-site only in Mariposa California, all Grace Note Chimes are on sale at a discount of 40% off.  Can't make it to Mairposa? Well, you're in luck. December 9-11, 2008 all Grace Note Chimes sold online are sold at a 35% discount.

Grace Note also practices environmentally safe policies in the making of each and every wind chime. To help safeguard the planet for current and future generations Grace Note:

  • Recycles 95% or more of total waste

  • Scraps of aluminum, saw dust, and shavings always recycled

  • Grace Notes Wind Chimes are designed for a lifetime, not the trash can!

  • Use only biodegradable soaps and oils for cutting

  • No Toxic By-Products Produced When Making Wind Chimes

  • They primarily use post consumer cardboard and paper for shipping

  • All wind chimes are guaranteed for 10 years and any that are damaged beyond repair will be recycled by Grace Notes.

 Buy California-made and California-grown...the job you save may be your own. Lots more great California-made products are coming your way through the California Travel Insider.


California Farm to Table Shop Locally

Walk the Locavore Talk  by Barbara L. Steinberg©  

Apple Hill Rainbow Orchard 1Credit Barbara Steinberg I really took it to heart when learning about the whole "farm to table" philosophy, which promotes buying produce that's been grown within 100 miles of home.  Let me tell you's tough.  But I try. And failing that, I tell myself, "It must at least have been grown in California." When that doesn't the very least, it should be grown in the U.S.  How hard could that be?

Well, sometimes really, really hard. Why? Because labeling is so misleading and even with produce you to read the fine print.  Haas California avocados are a great example. You see them everywhere.  But many times, those buttery fruits are grown in Chile.  When the California avocado crops were damaged by the fires, the Chilean avocados were in the markets for many more months. Much as I love my guacamole and avocado salads, I resisted the urge and did not purchase a single avocado until I was certain it came from California soil.

Similarly, I found a bag of Gilroy garlic at a local store – proudly labeled as California grown. Happy stinking roses! At home, preparing dinner, there in very tiny, tiny print on the bottom of the bag it said, “Product of Argentina.” Those beautiful bulbs went back in the bag and back to the store. As strange as it sounds, now I even ask at the farmers markets, “Was this grown in California?”

Then I took the whole “act locally” to the next level. Our local merchants need us desperately! Yes, I do shop at Costco sometimes. And occasionally succumb to the wilds of Home Depot. However, I am trying (what we must do) to support small, local businesses; especially during these most difficult economic times.

With the rising cost of gas, it really isn’t cheaper to make that drive to the big “Box Store” to save a few bucks. Plus, I am walking more!  That's a bonus!

Residents and visitors to the Golden State,

support California

Farmers Market

Or  Savor California

 Buy  Ca Grown Logo 

There are great farm, wine, and harvest trails throughout the state.

Farm Trails

49er Fruit Trails & Christmas Tree Lane

Apple Hill Growers Association

Clarksburg Wine Growers & Vintners

Calaveras Grown

California Ag-Tourism Database

Capay Valley Grown

Central Coast AgriTourism Council

El Dorado County Farm Trails

El Dorado County Christmas Tree Growers

El Dorado Winery Association

Farms of Amador County

Fresno County Fruit Trail

Happy Valley Farm Trail

Harvest Time in Brentwood

Lake County Farm Trails

Lake County Farmers Finest

Lodi Wine Trails

Mendocino Bounty

Napa Yolano Harvest Trails

Oak Glen Farm Trails

Pick Your Own 

Placer Grown

Sierra Oro Farm Trail

Sonoma County Farm Trails

Silverado Trail Wineries Association

Suisun Valley

Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association

Tuolumne County Tree Farms

Ventura County Wine Trail


Fairfield California: Suisun Valley Fun Family Farm Days

Fairfield California: Suisun Valley Fun Family Farm Days

The third annual Suisun Valley Fun Family Farm Days continues on Sunday, September 28 and October 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The past two years have seen an incredible response to this event from many visitors throughout the region including the Bay Area and Sacramento.

                                     "Thank you, we got to learn more about local produce and wine.”
                  “Glad you’re offering the Suisun Valley’s bounty to the public in such a delightful way.”
                                                      “Excellent way to promote local produce.”
                                       “I have attended all 3 years and all three days and I love it.”
                                                        “Wonderful surprise…Great fun!”

When you come to the Suisun Valley Fun Family Farm Days, you’ll experience fresh local produce, flower picking, wagon rides, children’s crafts, homemade jams, farm animals, u -pick produce, pony rides, art demonstrations, premium wine tasting, winery tours, barrel tastings, olive oil tasting, eateries featuring local produce, local winemakers, and wine and food pairings.

Activity maps are available at all participating vendors the day of event, or at the information booth located on the corner of Suisun Valley and Rockville roads. You can also visit for more information and directions. The Suisun Valley Fun Family Farm Days occurs on the last Sunday of the month in August (8/31-Labor Day Weekend), September (9/28), and October (10/26).

Learn more about farm life, farm fresh produce, and farm fun. Support the agricultural community by buying local. Escape for a Sunday to a place where life is simpler, people are friendlier, and the freshly picked produce tastes better.

Experience the hidden treasure that is Suisun Valley! It's right in your backyard.

Larrys Farm Stand Credit Fun Family Farm Days  Arts and Crafts Credit Fun Family Farm Days

Fairfield California Go Undiscover Suisun Valley


SuisunValley There are some wonderfully unexpected places just off the interstate; beyond all the unsightly sprawl and big-box store developments. Sometimes you have to be willing to take a chance…take the road less traveled. Of course, having a road atlas with you AT ALL TIME is a big help.

One of these unexpected places is less than 50 miles west, off I-80 and Waterman Blvd in Fairfield. It goes by a number of names:  Suisun Valley, Wooden Valley, or Mankas Corner. You drive past miles of development when suddenly the road seems to enter some Twilight Zone and there, spread-out before you, is rural California…a beautiful valley bounded by two coastal ranges. There are a handful of vineyards and wineries with tasting rooms in the Suisun Valley appellation – classified as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) by the federal government since 1982 – and wonderful produce stands.  There’s almost always something open but it’s also just a beautiful drive.

MankasCornerClayStation Central Valley Credit Barbara Steinberg Stop in at the Vintage Caffe (yes, two ‘f’s), The Clay Station, and the Vezer Family Vineyard in beautiful downtown Mankas Corner, you won’t be disappointed.

I will never forget the first time I visited this delightful region, amazed that it survived surrounded by all the development. But each time I visit, the development is creeping closer and closer. It’s moving slowly, up over the hills overlooking this sweet valley. Go visit and do it soon. Support the local farmers and artists (they have some of that too) and breathe in all of that rich golden countryside. It’s so close.


Barbara L. Steinberg©