Solano County has been in California viticulture dating back to the 1800’s. Solano County was named for the fabled Chief Solano (Francisco Solano) of the Suisunes tribe of the Patwin people.
In the late 1800’s, Mangels Winery, located in what is now Suisun Valley AVA, was one of the largest wineries in the United States, growing typical grapes of the period in head pruned vineyards. Carignane was highly popular along with Zinfandel and what was once known as Napa Gamay, all almost exclusively on St George root stock. The rail lines that first connected the United States came through Solano County on the route to San Francisco Bay and provided the needed transportation to ship bulk wine in barrels across the continent, using ice refrigerated cars.
The western portions are directly influenced by the highly favorable coastal climate, being delivered by its presence within the San Francisco Bay system and notably San Pablo Bay, where marine air crosses to arrive at the foot of Solano County. In the early periods of the American AVA system development, Suisun Valley AVA and Green Valley AVA became the first and only official AVA designations in Solano County, subsequently joined to create the larger North Coast AVA. Yet in the very eastern extremes at the head of the Sacramento River delta, fertile islands in the delta adjacent to the Clarksburg AVA have been planted in post prohibition times to more production oriented vineyards serving wineries producing California appellated wines. These eastern areas are graced with the cooling ‘delta breezes’ that funnel up from the San Francisco Bay system.
Limited grape growing is done in the deep fertile soils of the Dixon Ridge, but isolated plantings in proximity to the delta air flows have produced worthy wines as well. Recently, mountain plantings have been started on the top ridges of Mt Vaca and the Blue Ridge sections of the Vaca Range. These vineyards are at elevations up to 2,600 feet.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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