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AVA,History,Suisun Valley,Wine

Getting to the Heart and Soul of Suisun Valley

I’ve been working with the Suisun Valley Vintners and Grapegrowers for a long time, at various capacities.

My original tasks were primarily to get the name Suisun Valley on the map, and onto the radar screen. They had been in some sort of Rip Van Winkle time warp, and Jose and I were called in to help them illuminate their valley in the wine media and beyond.

Imagine:

  • American Viticultural Area (AVA) for over 25 years
  • One of the oldest AVAs, since they began in 1982
  • Neighbor to Napa on its southeastern most tip
  • Part of the North Coast AVA…

But, who knew?

I certainly didn’t, and very few others did, too, as I began to spread the word. Now, there’s much more visibility. You may not know this AVA (because who reads everything?), but others surely do. And, it’s enough for it to be growing in a more vibrant winemaking and grape growing way from six years ago.

I became their storyteller, and I love that job; although a lot has changed for responsibilities over the years. Now, it’s mostly Jose who is responsible for Suisun’s Web needs.

Important for people to know…

  • Where did Suisun Valley get its name?
  • What are the details of all these individual grape growers, since I’ve only been writing about them as a group?

Their story is one my most fascinating assignments. I was able to not only study the heart of the valley, I also able to discover their soul.

I began with Koch Wines. Jose and I had helped him launch his Website. I had already written his story, so half my work was done.

Exploring the Potential for Great Suisun Valley Cabernet at Koch Wine

President of the Suisun Valley Vintners and Grape Growers Roger King and and I were also talking about an R&D story I was working on, “Third Generation Grape Grower Fred Abruzzini Has it All.” With this one, I had gotten to the bottom of the Abruzzini family coming into Suisun Valley, and am very excited about this story. Roger loves it, too, and asked me to begin a chronological thought process. He wanted me to dig back to the Mangels Winery, because that’s the tipping point that people in Suisun talk about, and recognize it as something of great merit.

Meanwhile… my mind could only think of getting to the bottom of where Suisun Valley got its name. I had heard that it had Native American roots, and my curiosity was going bonkers.

So, I went that way. What an amazing ride, and I wrote:

How Suisun Valley Got Its Name

BRIEFLY: Well worth the discovery of Chief Solano, formerly Suisunes Chief Sem-Yeto was baptized by missionaries as “Solano.”

The first grape growing and winery in Suisun Valley ~ 1906 ~ Mangels winery (called Solano Winery) had grown to produce 500,000 gallons of wine a year, in Green Valley, Solano County (1893 to early 1950s). A half a million gallons of wine… Right up there with the Beaulieu, Beringer, Wente, the Concannon, Inglenook, Korbel, Martini, and Tulares of the world.

It’s just astounding to me, and I don’t think that it’s that I’m learning all of these facts. What’s blowing me away is that this story has been laying dormant since 1943, from the publications that I have as resources… And, the fact that it’s an internationally told story for the very first time is amazing to me to have this opportunity. I have what some people like to think of as a “scoop,” when in fact…

Writing The Earliest History of Grape Growing in Suisun Valley has me really off and running, and the rest will be history… as the saying goes, as I get to tie in the time between Chief Solano, the 1940s to six years ago, to when I first began the stories. I never thought about skipping backwards to tell the present… But what better place than on their Website, written in such detail as I’m going to be telling.

I never thought I’d grow up to be a historian, but that has happened. Who knew?

Suisunes Chief Sem Yeto was baptized by missionaries as “Solano.”
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2 Responses to “Getting to the Heart and Soul of Suisun Valley”

  1. Steve Howe says:

    I didn’t know about the Suisun Valley wineries until about a year or so ago. (Probably due to your efforts!)

    I was surprised when my wife and I finally visited the area. It is a great place to wine tasting. It’s a scenic area, wineries are not on top of each other but not too far away either, friendly tasting rooms, and good wine.

    We’ve add a section on our website about Suisun Valley and are recommending the area to our friends.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Great to know, Steve. I love the area, too. It was easy to write abut, because it’s got a lot of heart and soul over there.

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