Confused? The town is called Winters, but the weather is warm and sunny. If anything, it’s too warm in summer, so autumn is perfect for a weekend getaway about 60 miles from San Francisco.
Small town charm
Probably proud to be one of those places that people consider to be the alternative to Napa Valley, Winters is in Yolo County, California, just beyond Napa. The historic town, established in 1875, relates to an agricultural background, rather than gold rush growth. The population stands at only 6,624 as of the 2010 census. That’s a small town by most standards, and this is part of Winters’ charm. Judging by the friendly hellos heard on Main Street, many of the residents know one another well.
Downtown Winters is a registered historic district, where some structures date to the 1870s. Visitors find several wine tasting rooms, a good selection of cafés and restaurants, lovely art galleries, a custom hand made guitar shop, a knitting and quilt makers center, a bicycle shop with rentals and the The Palms Playhouse now active in the old Winters Opera House, hosting live bands and theater productions from 13 Main Street. Just across Railroad Avenue’s old railway tracks is pretty green park with a gazebo where townsfolk gather several times a year for parties, outdoor concerts, fairs and wine tastings from dozens of local vineyards.
Berryessa Gap Vineyards are one of the local wineries with a downtown tasting room. Growing vines on the east slope of a gap in the Coastal Range, known as Berryessa Gap, there are 12 blends to taste. After three generations, Turkovich Family Wines certainly know their small lot wines and will pour for visitors in their tasting rooms in Railroad Avenue downtown. Friday evening, September 7 is Winters Temp Fest, a celebration of Paella and Tempranillo. Yum. Meantime, at Rootstock, there’s good food, wine, and live music on offer every Friday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Waking up in Winters
If an overnight stay is in your plans, the Abbey House Inn will fit the bill quite nicely. Dating from 1095, the pretty wrap-around porch is perfect for relaxing. With its own entrance, the De Winters Room even has a fireplace, a whirlpool tub, and a private terrace.
Lake Berryessa, tenth largest in California, straddles the Napa County border. Both Lake Berryessa and the peaceful Putah Creek which empties into it from the Solano County line, offer fishing, boating, jet and water skiing, camping and picnicking, birdwatching, hiking and biking and swimming in fresh water.