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 of Sacramento, 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.
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.