A delicious movement is afoot in downtown Winters, the quaint Yolo County town flanked by fertile fields and home to the esteemed Palms Playhouse. Alongside local institutions such as Putah Creek Cafe and Buckhorn Steakhouse, new ventures devoted to farm-to-table dining, fine wine and craft beer are taking root. That it’s being done with a collaborative spirit (practically every establishment serves, sells or recommends its neighbors’ goods) and without a whiff of pretentiousness makes Winters all the more appealing as a day-trip destination.
Since it opened its doors in March 2011, Preserve Public House (200 Railroad Ave.) has attracted loyal locals and curious wine tourists who veer off Napa’s beaten path for the delicious casual fare and quality libations. The small details here make a big statement, starting with the stunning farmhouseindustrial interior that is the result of a creative collaboration by the Ogando family, Preserve’s owners. Clever touches abound: light fixtures smartly fashioned from tractor parts; a restored shuffleboard under which grandfather’s antique camera collection is encased; the bar crafted from woven barrel staves below and fruit-drying trays above; a broken-down truck loaded with succulents and retrofitted with beer taps in the lush outdoor patio. The space is both highbrow beautiful and down-home comfortable.
Preserve is paying attention in the kitchen, too (if not to the service, which on a recent visit was friendly but unpolished). The grilled carrot sandwich shows off what this pedestrian root is capable of in the right hands. The cheese and charcuterie selection is of stellar quality and nicely paired with local nuts, dried fruit and olives. And the jalapeño jelly with rich mascarpone— both housemade—smeared onto Acme bread is a simple yet delectable bar snack.
Preserve’s bar serves up 21 beers on tap, including selections from local newcomer Berryessa Brewing Co., a thoughtful roster of artisan cocktails (try the smoky La Tienda, made with tequila, jalapeño jelly, fresh lime juice and Agavero and rimmed with the sweet-spicy dust of Mexican rock candy) and a wellcurated selection of local wines.
Just down the street, Winters Cheese Co. and Turkovich Family Wines (304 Railroad Ave.) cohabitate in an airy tasting room where visitors can sample the best from both establishments. Try the sage cheddar with the 2010 Grenache or the Caerphilly with the 2009 barrel select Tempranillo, then wander next door to watch guitars being made by hand at ARC Guitar.
Around the corner from Turkovich is the tasting room for Berryessa Gap Vineyards (15 Main St.) which pours a crisp Sauvignon Blanc (ideal for summer weather) and a plummy Petite Sirah. Check out the live music on Saturday evenings. From Berryessa Gap, meander across the street into RootStock (22 Main St.), a tasting room and gift shop where you can sample regional wines and olive oils, browse artwork by local artisans and peruse a nice gift selection, including handmade cutting boards, candles and soaps. Root- Stock also hosts live music on Friday evenings.
Follow Main Street across Railroad Avenue to Main Street Cellars (9 E. Main St.), where artisanal cheeses and cured meats are expertly paired with wine and beer. Cap off your visit by sipping a glass of Port on the charming patio or, for the more competitiveminded, head to the bocce court to try your hand at pointing and spocking.
Heading out of town two miles toward Lake Berryessa, Berryessa Brewing Co. (27260 Highway 128) will soon open its taproom where fans of its beers (currently sold at Mulvaney’s Building & Loan, Shady Lady Saloon, The Shack and Samuel Horne’s Tavern, among other places) can sample the latest brews on-site. Stay tuned!