By Lisa Rowlands

Named after a Native American Chief, Solano is one of California’s original counties, established in 1850 - the year the state joined the union. Its diverse landscape - tree-studded hillsides, wetlands, vast expanses of agricultural land and a host of cities including bayside Vallejo and the county seat of Fairfield, make Solano a fascinating destination for tourists. Theme parks, scenic countryside walks and the headquarters of the jelly bean giant Jelly Belly, are amongst the many attractions here, and the county’s wine industry has its own part to play too. Many of the area’s wineries are now taking advantage of their proximity to San Francisco and the boom in wine tourism, by opening up their premises to offer tastings and tours.

The county of Solano like all Californian winemaking counties, is itself a designated AVA. However, Solano also has two sub-appellations whose distinctive terroir sets them apart. Both Suisun Valley AVA and Solano County Green Valley AVA (so-called to avoid confusion with Green Valley of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma) are located in the west of the county close to the Vaca Mountains, where most viticultural activity takes place.

Growing conditions here are not too dissimilar from those in neighbouring Napa and in the early days of Californian viticulture the two counties were combined in what was known as the Napa Valley-Solano District. The climate is broadly described as maritime with the influence of marine air and fog coming off Suisun and San Pablo Bays having a cooling effect on temperatures. Thin, free-draining sandy soils predominate resulting in low yields of deeply concentrated fruit, and subsequent wines of rich flavours and rustic charm. Sadly many people still pass through these vineyards on route to the big names of Napa and Sonoma, unaware of the world-class wines they are missing out on.

AVAs of Solano County