Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley are famous for being famous as the must-see capitals of northern California’s enviable wine producing area. There are pretty, historic towns, like Sonoma itself, and others with well-known names that roll off the tongue like a “Who’s Who” of top vineyards. Yolo County is no exception from the agricultural point of view, but offers an experience far less touristy than its better known neighbors.
Lake Berryessa and Putah Creek
Heading east, Yolo County is one county over from Napa and just north of the Solano County border. Lake Berryessa, tenth largest in California, straddles the Napa County border. Both Lake Berryessa and the peaceful Putah Creek which empties into it from the Solano County line, offer fishing, boating, jet and water skiing, camping and picnicking, birdwatching, hiking and biking and swimming in fresh water around 75 degrees Fahrenheit in midsummer. Early spring is one of the best times to visit for sighting nesting eagles and hawks in and around Lake Berryessa and Lake Solano County Park, where peacocks roam among the picnic tables. And, there’s more to see and do.
Winters, California – Established 1875
Head for Winters in the spring. Fewer than 7,000 people call Winters, California home. About 60 miles from San Francisco, it is a charming community surrounded by vineyards, citrus groves, walnut, apple and olive trees. Approaching town on Rte. 128, one sees the landmark water tower rising above fields with a mountain backdrop. En route into Winters, cross the freight railroad tracks, an important aspect of Winter’s agricultural heritage, passing through to the old trestle bridge on Putah Creek re-opened on its 100th anniversary in 2006. The staff at the Winters Visitor Center at 11 Main Street will tell you more about the town’s early beginnings where vintage photographs help relate the story and local items are displayed for sale.
Main Street Historic District
Downtown Winters is a registered historic district with some structures dating to the 1870s, plenty of wine tasting rooms, cafés and restaurants, lovely art galleries, a custom hand made guitar shop, a knitting and quilt makers center, a bicycle shop with rentals and the The Palms Playhouse now active in the old Winters Opera House, hosting live bands and theater productions from 13 Main Street. Just across Railroad Avenue’s old railway tracks is pretty green park with a gazebo where townsfolk gather several times a year for parties, outdoor concerts, fairs and wine tastings from dozens of local vineyards. If an overnight stay is in your plans, a Victorian bed & breakfast inn will fit the bill.
Mark your Calendar for Springtime Events in Winters
The 78th annual Youth Day begins with a pancake breakfast, has fair games and rides, horseshoe tournament, crafts and food booths and a kiddie parade all set for April 28, 2012. The fifth annual Main Street Garage Sale is scheduled for Saturday morning, May 5, 2012. The Winters Outdoor Quilt Festival is scheduled for Saturday, June 9, 2012. The week long Plein Air Festival scheduled to begin May 4, 2012 is a major draw for accomplished and aspiring landscape artists wishing to capture the beauty and light of Winters in springtime. Highlights include a pet parade and community picnic for “Cinco de Mayo” on Saturday, May 5, a Quick Draw competition for artists on the afternoon of Friday, May 11 and on Saturday, May 12, an all-day art, food and wine celebration at Newt’s Alley by Fortify, the new gallery run by sponsors Briggs & Co. in Railroad Avenue, where applications for artists are found on the gallery’s website.
Briggs & Co. Gallery