It’s easy to be narrow-minded in deciding the type of wines and wine regions we prefer. Most of us to do it—I did it for years! For so long, I only wanted to drink cabernets from Napa. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I started my wine blog that I really began my wine journey and expanded my palate to new regions. That is when I realized I was missing out.
There is too much to learn and enjoy in this world of wine to ignore entire regions, which brings me to my recent discovery: Fairfield, CA. I wasn’t even aware that this was a wine region with certified AVAs until my recent trip to explore Fairfield wineries.
Suisun Valley and Green Valley, both not far from Napa Valley, are home to more than a dozen family-owned wineries and tasting rooms. And, bonus, there are six tasting rooms in the area that are open seven days a week—rain or shine, there’s always wine in Fairfield!
So, follow along with my Fairfield getaway, and get a taste of this surprising wine region as I savor six all-weather tasting rooms.
Brooke Martin started her wine blog in 2016 as a creative outlet to express her adoration for wine. The Brooke Blend focuses on all things wine with a nod to style. She has a soft spot for small-production and boutique wineries, while providing excellent information on wines in a fun, relaxed and genuine way.
As someone who tastes wine regularly, it was refreshing to mix it up right off the bat with my first stop to Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company, a family-owned company that grows and mills international award-winning olive oils. Accolades have rolled in year after year, including being named as one of the best olive oil producers in the world at the 20th Annual Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition.
Vivid green olive trees surround the Il Fiorello property. You may take your tasting inside or outside on their welcoming patio with views of the olive trees with rolling hills in the distance.
So, is oil tasting similar to wine tasting? I was surprised by the parallels! Each oil is offered initially as a stand-alone. To ensure the oil is warm and to release the aroma, swirling the oil is recommended. From there, I smelled the oil and picked up on aromas including green grass, green almond, black pepper and herbaceous and floral notes. Next, I tasted the oil for fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. Sipping straight olive oil felt strange at first, but it did allow my senses to truly appreciate the balance between aroma and flavors. To end the tasting, they presented a handful of small bites to pair with the oils. My favorite pairing was the balsamic vinegar reduction on a slice of peach. The sweetness of the fruit mingled perfectly with the tartness of the vinegar.
G V Cellars in Green Valley was a favorite stop. The winding road leading up to this winery, hugged by lush vines on each side, was a great segue into the stunning views of their 30-acre estate vineyard. General Manager Vicki immediately welcomed us with a warm smile. I couldn’t help but feed off of her enthusiasm as she shared the G V Cellars story and details of each wine I tasted. Focused on Italian varietals, G V Cellars produces six estate varietals and some amazing blends as well.
The Tre Annate cabernet sauvignon was a unique wine. This blend of three vintages of estate grapes is complex and layered, with each vintage adding its own personality to the mix. Dark fruits, licorice, spice and bold tannins add to the animated characteristics as well. This wine is young and could easily be laid down for a while. Another favorite was their 100% Sangiovese rosé, with bright acidity and floral notes that dance lightly with strawberry and raspberry flavors.
The last stop of the day was BackRoad Vines. I loved the laid back feel of this winery. As I pulled up, music was playing and a bocce ball tournament was in full swing. I had a hard time getting into the tasting room due to so many cute dogs wanting my attention, which I gladly gave. Specializing in Syrah, cabernet sauvignon and red blends, you’re bound to find a red wine that suits you. The 2016 Mule red blend and 2016 cabernet sauvignon easily flirted their way into my glass and then into the car to take back to the hotel.
Day two started off with a visit to Vezér Family Vineyard’s Mankas Gardens Tasting Room in the Suisun Valley. The winery is best known for Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. The valley’s soil boasts an ideal microclimate, which is warm, dry and includes a coastal effect from the San Pablo Bay—perfect for these varietals.
The Mankas Gardens Tasting Room overflows with charm. With wine in hand, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to relax on the steps of the front porch in the sweet fragrance of blooming flowers or enjoy myself in the middle of their beautiful gardens on the back patio. I decided to do both, making sure to get a refill of wine in between.
The 2016 Petit Sirah recently scored double gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. The 2018 Franci-Estate Verdelho, a luscious white with bright acidity, stone fruit and citrus notes, was a hit. The 2014 Zinfandel was also delightful—jammy but not heavy, with dark fruits, spice and robust tannins adding complexity and balance from beginning to end.
Next stop was the Blue Victorian Winery. Also owned by Vezér Family Vineyards, this location stocks different wines than Mankas Gardens. If you are looking for aesthetics and atmosphere, this is the winery for you!
I was in awe as I started down the long driveway leading up to the Blue Victorian House, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and palm trees. Consider grabbing a glass of wine to take a stroll of the property and barrel room, but whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the Winemaker Select blend. This multilayered wine has flavors of black cherry, blueberry, vanilla and anise. It’s structured with a smooth finish, and each sniff I took produced something different and surprising.
Wooden Valley Winery was the last stop of the day. This popular place was buzzing and full of people, even at the end of the day. The Lanza Family has run Wooden Valley Winery since 1955 when Mario Lanza took over ownership after working there for more than 11 years. I enjoyed learning more about the history of the winery by reading their story, which they proudly display on the winery walls. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time at this stop, as they offer a wide selection of wines to choose from. With picnic tables surrounding the property, it’s the perfect location to pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy with a charcuterie board while taking in the views.
The Suisun Valley Filling Station at the historic Mankas Corner pours a variety of wines from the valley as well as craft beers. Directly across the street is Mankas Steakhouse, which has a great local wine list and melt-off-the-bone ribs. The Suisun Valley Wine Co-op is another must-stop where you can taste wines from local wineries that don’t currently have their own tasting room.
Don’t get me wrong—I love my Napa trips, but there was something special about stepping off the beaten path and enjoying a wine region that surprised me. Next time you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, visit Fairfield and the wineries of the Suisun Valley and Green Valley. If you do, you’ll reap the benefits: less congested, a laid-back feel, clear blue skies and quality wine to savor seven days a week.