Suisun Valley is Napa Valley’s eastern neighbor. It’s bounded to the west by the hills that separate these two wine-growing regions, to the south by the Sacramento River delta at Suisun Bay and Grizzly Bay, to the east by the sprawling city of Fairfield and Travis Air Force Base, and to the north by the wooded hills that eventually reach the shores of Lake Berryessa, less than an hour’s drive on twisting country roads. The floor of Suisun Valley is planted primarily with vineyard and a few olive orchards in between. About a half dozen vineyards bottle their own fruit and one of the gems I discovered on a September afternoon was Wooden Valley Winery and Vineyards.
This wine adventure began as many of the better one’s do – searching for a local tasting room to hang out in until time for dinner. On this evening I had reservations at Mankas Steakhouse, Suisun Valley’s contribution to outstanding wine country dining and only about 10 minutes from base camp (more on this great restaurant another time). Wooden Valley Winery and Vineyards is easy to find on Suisun Valley Road. The tasting room is larger than you might expect and the staff is certainly as knowledgeable and friendly as you’ll find for a 1,000 miles in any direction.
Wooden Valley grows grapes for themselves and other wineries on about 12 local vineyards they call “ranches” within the Suisun Valley AVA. While many wine growing regions credit vineyard soil and topography for the quality of their wines, Wooden Valley acknowledges its excellent climate (“suisun” means “west wind” in the local Native American dialect) as well as its rich soil. Suisun Valley is part of the North Coast Appellation, an ultra-premium growing region that includes neighboring Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.
Wooden Valley currently offers several varietals, including chardonnay, gamay, reisling, pinot noir, zinfandel, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. I especially liked (and took home) the 2010 Suisun Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which at $21 at the tasting room holds its own against more expensive competitors to the west. It’s aged 20 months in American and French oak and very smooth for its age.
Stop by the tasting room for some fun conversation and great wines.
Wooden Valley Winery & Vineyards
4756 Suisun Valley Road, Suisun Valley, CA 94534
Tasting Room open 7 days, 11am to 5pm
Phone: (707) 864-0730
Disclosure: No free samples or other inducements were provided to the author in return for this review.
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