Suisun Valley, Fairfield - Undiscovered Wine and More

Photo courtesy Visit Fairfield 

East of Napa, lies a treasure 

Would you believe me if I told you there is an undiscovered treasure literally just over the hill from Napa Valley? 

I’m not referring to Sonoma in the west, that IS certainly discovered. Look the other way - east. It has many fewer wineries than either, but the Suisun Valley AVA, (American Viticulture Area), has been an important wine-growing area and is just one year younger than California’s first, Napa Valley. 

Wineries to Discover

I knew the uber-famous Caymus Vineyards had a facility there, where their ubiquitous Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is bottled. I wanted to learn more, so when I had an opportunity to visit their newly opened tasting room in Suisun, I jumped on it. Suisun, (pronounced sue-SOON), Valley, is part of the greater Fairfield Valley - so, a sort of valley in a valley. 

Indoor/Outdoor Tasting Room, Caymus-Suisun

The area currently has a few more than a dozen wineries open to the public, and a history of many more growers selling grapes to Napa and Sonoma. You likely won’t be breaking the tasting bank, as can easily happen in Napa. It’s a relaxed, rural small-town farming area, where you can breathe in, pause, and breathe out life’s stresses. 

Caymus-Suisun, located in the  Suisun Valley, Solano County is just east of Napa Valley. The valley actually lies within the confines of the valley of Fairfield. I just looked up driving time from Caymus-Suisun,  and it says 33 minutes to downtown Napa. 

Or, you could reach Caymus Napa in Rutherford, (their long-standing property), further north in 40, just for fun. So, you could easily do a day trip from one valley to the other with lots of options for tasting, and exploring. Even do a couple of day trips. Stay in Fairfield to be budget-friendly. 

I visited on a day trip off Discovery Princess docked in San Francisco Bay, and to my delight, the drive was only about an hour. 

Exterior Caymus-Suisun

The brand spanking new facility, and tasting room is state of the art. Elegant, open air architecture, inviting guests to wander the palm lined pathways, or explore the vineyards. The architecture reminded me of the still newly designed Booker tasting room in Paso Robles, CA. The two Caymus Cabernets, (Napa Valley, and Special Select), are available here, along with The Grand Durif, The Walking Fool Red, Sea Sun Pinot Noir, Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc, and Mer Soilel Chardonnay made by the owner/winemaker Chuck Wagner’s progeny.

After enjoying a wine tasting or a glass inside, (or outside on the expansive patio), you can venture over to the espresso room for a complimentary perk up for the rest of your day, or simply mellow in the peace a little Walking Fool can give you. But, do remember there are over a dozen more tasting rooms to explore. 

Climate and Grape Varieties 

The climate is very similar to Napa, warm sunny days, with cooling easterly “suisun” winds, so not only good for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as it is in  Napa but good for enjoying your getaway too. 

The area is most known for Petite Sirah, and Caymus-Suisun The Grand Durif is a well-made example of that. The name a nod to the historic name of the variety. (Durif is most likely a cross between Peloursin and Syrah). Now, usually

referred to as Petite Sirah, the grapes are small, contain a large percentage of skin-to-flesh ratio, so make powerful tannic wines that can be tamed with barrel and bottle aging. 

Olive Oil Heaven

When you’ve had your fill of wine,

 Il Fiorello Olive Oil Farms will not disappoint  with their superlative master class in olive oil tasting. Each of their finest quality oils are paired with a bite or two of very well matched morsels. From appetizers to entrees, and even an olive oil ice cream dessert, no better way learn and soak in the knowledge. The oils are distinct, and this tasting exemplified how a particular variety of olive could change the taste of the food. As a practiced wine taster, I was delighted to be led by a certified Somm who knows how to discern the complexities in the various oils. For example, I discovered the herbal almond notes of the Arbequina oil matched beautifully with the nuttiness of the Italian risotto. 

Olive oil tasting sample plate, with paired foods

An educational video shown at the tasting

Organic and Regenerative Farming

What really put me in my element was walking the olive and herb farm and not only appreciating the organic farming they’ve instituted but also the regenerative farming practices put in practice since day one. The proprietress Ann Sievers, (Fiorello is her family name) is a third-generation Italian American, and after 30 years dedicated to health care has carried her Italian-American family farming legacy forward, and is focused on contributing her healthful oil to the community. 

This is a farm with integrity, delivering exceptional quality, delicious oils that anyone can appreciate.   

Organic Herb and Allium Patch, Il Fiorello

Organic Vegetable Garden, Il Fiorello

Ann Seavers talks about her garden

I, the OrganicWineTraveler, was hosted to this excursion. As always my opinions and impressions are my own and I will never give false praise! 


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