SUISUN VALLEY — People don’t have to travel outside of Solano County to get a taste of the Napa Valley.
Suisun Valley near Fairfield has the same oak-covered hills as its more famous neighbor to the west. It also has wineries, restaurants and shops, but on a much smaller scale and without the Napa glitz and prices.
All of this makes Suisun Valley a more mom-and-pop version of Napa. It may have less sizzle, but it also has less traffic.
Weather in the valley is similar to that in parts of Napa, with warm summer days and evenings cooled by breezes coming from the bay through gaps in the hills. This and the fertile soils allow farmers to grow grapes for premium wines.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 1982 recognized the Suisun Valley Appellation. That means the valley is an American Viticultural Area.
Twenty varieties are grown in Suisun Valley: Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gamay, Grenache, Merlot, Mouvedre, Muscat Canelli, Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Rousanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Viognier, White Riesling and Zinfandel.
Suisun Valley is about more than grapes. It also has produce stands where people can buy fresh produce. Some close come December, but some are open year-round. The valley also offers such specialty products as olive oil.
Restaurants and stores are for the most part concentrated in certain areas. For example, Rockville Corner is a main commercial center, offering everything from food to gas. Mankas Corner is a smaller center.
Solano County and valley growers are working to promote Suisun Valley as an agritourism area. The hope is to convince some of the traffic passing on nearby Interstate 80 to stop by and explore.