Suisun Valley Co-op Tasting Room
Viticulture history began for Suisun Valley in the late 1800s. From that time until 1980, Suisun Valley winegrape growers kept their noses to the grindstone quietly growing wine grapes. In 1981, the United States instituted American Viticultural Areas, in order to distinguish grape growing regions. By February of 1981, the first region in California to receive designation was Napa Valley, with 225,280 acres.
Suisun Valley Co-op Tasting Room
One would think that it would be decades before “little known” Suisun Valley would become an AVA; however, astute growers in the Western Solano County Grape Growers Association successfully petitioned the BATF, and received formal designation for Suisun Valley as an identified AVA by December 27, 1982. This made Suisun Valley the twelfth California AVA; then, all became quiet again in that winegrape growing region.
In July of 2002, a savvy group of winegrape farmers in Suisun Valley reunited for a common purpose. Without a cohesive marketing plan, the growers realized that they’d continue to be dismissed each harvest as they tried to sell their grapes for fair market value. With their base of operation on the other side of the Vaca Mountain Range (a.k.a. Silverado Mountains), Suisun Valley was constantly being eclipsed by neighboring Napa. The Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association was formed, which has accelerated their purpose, growth, and direction in the last five years in ways no one could have imagined when they began, but can now be visibly acknowledged.
Ledgewood Creek Winery
Prior to SVGGA’s inception, the Lanza family of Wooden Valley played a major, albeit quiet, role. In 1955, Mario Lanza bought property in Suisun from a friend. For others, like Dean Frisbie of Ledgewood Creek Winery & Vineyards (who’s been in Suisun Valley since 1985, when he first bought a pear farm and converted it to vineyards) coming into the valley was a reinventing of oneself. And for yet others, like Roger King of King Andrews Vineyard, some have quietly arrived to escape the hectic corporate world. It’s been a nondescript endeavor, focused more on growing the fruit than on anything else.
As Suisun Valley growers and producers begin to focus on what the association will be doing in the upcoming year to celebrate, they can’t help but reflect back on what’s happened within the last five, once they decided to drive their message forward.
- Cohesive sign program is in place to distinguish their locations
- Co-op tasting room created (4495 Suisun Valley Road) to showcase wines
- More brands are proudly putting Suisun Valley on their labels as an AVA
- Awareness and demand for Suisun Valley fruit is on the rise
- Great scores for wines appellated to Suisun Valley has produced rapid awareness
The Co-op tasting room is broadly managed by Doug Sparks of the Sunset Cellars label, with each of the featured brands also assuming tasting room duties. As an early adopter for appellating his wines to Suisun Valley, Doug Sparks of Sunset Cellars was in the right place at the right time. The need for a tasting room within the valley, and Doug’s needs to have a tasting room, collided.
Only a few short years ago you could count Suisun Valley AVA designated wines on one hand. Today the list is rapidly growing:
- Bask Cellars
- Forlorn Hope
- King Andrews Vineyards
- Koch Wine
- Ledgewood Creek
- Olabisi Wines
- Mankas Hills Vineyards
- Shale Peak Vineyards
- Sunset Cellars, LLC
- Thomas Michael Cellars
- Trahan Winery
- Twilight Ridge
- Vezér Family Vineyard
- Wooden Valley
Suisun Valley prepares to celebrate its
25th AVA Anniversary this December 2007