A few weeks ago, Andy and I were invited on a press trip to introduce us to the wineries of Yolo County and a beautiful inn in Winters. We were able to join the group at the lunch stop and for a few wineries afterward. Following our experience that day, I’m excited to share some photos and videos I took as well as some of what I learned. Though Yolo County has been overlooked, it is a definite destination for food, wine, and beer lovers.
The Visit Yolo tourism group consists of Woodland, Davis, Winters, Capay Valley, and Clarksburg. Our visit focused on Capay Valley (Brooks) and Winters and began at Park Winters, a historic boutique inn and restaurant located in a Victorian home, surrounded by gardens and farmland.
We were invited to walk around the property at Park Winters, and I was able to capture many images of the grounds before our special 4-course lunch (orchestrated by onsite Chef Scott Ostrander) was served.
Before I describe the meal we enjoyed, here’s some of the backstory of Park Winters: The property (with a mansion built in 1865 by Yolo County pioneer George Washington Scott) was bought in 2011 by Rafael Galiano and John Martin. They opened the Inn at Park Winters as an event venue and bed and breakfast in 2012. Since 2011, Galiano and Martin have spent 3.3 million renovating the property, the water tower (that is now the “tower suite”), and building a saltwater pool and spa. They also built an event barn equipped with a professional kitchen where the stunning five course prix-fixe menu by Chef Ostrander is created.
I was lucky enough to get a peek behind the scenes at the making of our media lunch and the care and precision that went into plating each course. Yes, there were tweezers involved. I took some video of cooks taking pride in each plate.
Chef Ostrander came out to explain the menu and to meet the journalists he had not previously met inside the kitchen.The Chef is quoted on the Park Winters website as saying, “To me, farm-to-fork is really about utilizing farms and everything they have to offer. If it is tomatoes, that’s fine, but if its tomatoes, apricots, basil, spinach… even better. There is a comfort in knowing that the food you are eating came from just one place. Hopefully not too far away.” It’s a match made in heaven for the Chef and the onsite organic garden at Park Winters. His culinary team also includes Paul DiPierro (Chef de Cuisine) and Taylor Lovelace (Sous Chef).
I was delighted to see a bottle of one of my favorite local Chardonnays on the table, The Arsonist Chardonnay, made by Matchbook Wine Company.
Pretty sure it was fate, but someone also placed an entire bottle of Capay Valley Sparkling Viognier next to me, which happened to be one of my favorites at this year’s Legends of Wine, and I happily sipped it between our courses and wine pairings. Um #Iwasntdriving!! 😉
The menu was spectacular and paired with wines exclusively from Seka Hills, Turkovich Family Wines, and Capay Valley Vineyards, however there were wines from Berryessa Gap Vineyards, Casey Flat Ranch, Matchbook Wine Company, Route 3 Wines, and Simas Family Wines also present on the table for us to enjoy.
I was most impressed with the Gazpacho dish, one of the best I have ever had. Also, it was the most elegantly plated lunch I have ever eaten.
And then there was a dirt road. After lunch, we headed to Seka Hills Winery and Olive Oil production facility, located in Brooks, and producing red and white wines by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (translated to mean “Home by the Spring Water”). It’s really incredible to experience the Seka Hills tasting room and the land there the olives and grapes grow. And it’s even better to stand on the land and get a vineyard tour while sipping their Viognier!
The below photo is a vine being grafted into another vine. This is a common vineyard process when a vine is inserted in a groove, slit, or the like in a stem or stock of another vine and it continues to grow. This method is used to save the time of establishing a new root system.
Inside the Seka Hills Tasting Room:
Not only does Seka Hills produce great wine, they also produce olive oil and honey! The tasting room is located inside a 14,000 square foot olive mill facility. There are guided tastings available that offer visitors a chance to experience the agricultural products from the Yoha Dehe Wintun Nation.
Coming up on Sunday October 30th, Seka Hills will be having an Olive Crush Festival to celebrate their harvest. It will be in the Seka Hills Tasting Room from 12pm-4pm. There will be olive oil and honey tasting, wine and sangria by the glass, local vendors, live music, food trucks, and mill tours! For more information, you can head over to the Facebook event page HERE.
Capay Valley Vineyards was started in 1998 by Tom Frederick and Pam Welch. The winery produces wines from their own grapes. All vineyard tasks such as pruning, shoot thinning, and harvesting are done by hand. The grapes are harvested at night to obtain cooler fruit to begin the winemaking process. Their winemaker is Terri Strain.
In 2003, after a two year federal process, the Capay Valley was designated an American Viticultural Area (appellation). Capay Valley Vineyards represents their AVA marvelously as they are featured annually in one of the Sacramento’s Farm to Fork Festival’s crown events: Legends of Wine.
You can find Park Winters on Facebook here on Twitter here and on Instagram here.
You can find Seka Hills on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
You can find Capay Valley Vineyards online HERE.
You can find Visit Yolo on Facebook here, on Twitter here and on Instagram here and on Pinterest here.
It sure has been a wonderful past two weeks and another successful Farm-to-Fork celebration here in Sacramento. I feel especially grateful to live here during this time of the year. One of the key events during Farm-to-Fork Week is Legends of Wine, which took place last September 17th on the steps of the Capitol building.
I attended with Andy and I brought my mom with us, who was visiting from Ohio that week. It was a gorgeous, classic Sacramento September night, and we had a great time. We caught up with many industry friends and tasted dozens of labels—some familiar, some not so familiar—but all chosen by wine experts Darrell Corti and David Berkley to be at the present.
As always, I took pictures of my favorites and am presenting them to you here. I am not being compensated for my opinion, I just really like the wines you’re about to see, and I encourage you to try them if you have not already! 🙂
First up is a 2013 Semillon from Andis. If you attended Legends of Wine, you probably tried this wine, because they were one of the first booths of the event near the entrance. It’s a great wine to begin the evening. Bright, fruity and readies the palette for more!
My second favorite from Legends of Wine was the 2013 Séka Hills Viognier (shown below). Speaking of bright and fruity, this wine has the same descriptors. It’s a crisp, flavorful wine straight out of Capay Valley.
Near the Capay Valley lies Esparto and my good friends at Matchbook. Their Rosé of Tempranillo is currently my favorite domestic rosé. It will probably be on my table this Thanksgiving, it goes with almost anything.
Another favorite wine of mine is the 2014 Chenin Blanc from Revolution Wine in Sacramento. Craig Haarmeyer is the winemaker there and is making Chenin cool again. Check out Revolution’s tasting room and restaurant over on 29th and S. In their tasting room, don’t miss their Albariño and Malbec. They are by far my two favorite wines that Craig makes. 🙂
This Vermentino from Lone Acre (Simone Giusto Cellars) was one of Andy’s favorites. Vermentino is one of the most popular white grapes in Italy and is becoming more popular in California. The grape tends to do really well in warmer regions just like Amador! It might be time to roll out the red wines, but keep this one in mind for a starter glass before dinner.
We also liked this rosé by Uvaggio (Lodi). It’s a blend of Primitivo, Barbera and Vermentino, which is like the Italian grape version of The Three Musketeers!
For all you red wine folks, my last choice is Michael David’s Ancient Vine Cinsault. It’s very similar in body/taste to a Pinot Noir (cherry/berry). The Cinsault was planted in all the way back in 1885 by Joseph Spenker, which pretty much qualifies it as ancient vine, as it is Lodi’s oldest producing vineyard. I wish there were more Cinsault planted and produced!
I am already looking forward to next year’s Farm-to-Fork celebration and another Legends of Wine. To keep up with all the delicious Farm-to-Fork events, click here, “like” Farm to Fork on Facebook here, or follow them on Twitter here. Cheers! 🙂