Thursday, June 07, 2007

Fairfield Magnetizes Wine Lovers

Fairfield Magnetizes Wine Lovers
Project Aims To Make City Wine Country Destination

Doug Sparks and Roger King are part of a group of Suisun Valley wine growers that are opening a wine cooperative on Suisun Valley Road which part of a project that aims to attracts tourists and raise awareness about Suisun Valley wines. Photo by Mike McCoy

By Ines Bebea

SUISUN VALLEY - Making Fairfield a wine country destination is the objective of a project being launched by the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association and the Suisun Valley Fund.

The first step is to open a tasting room for the Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative that will serve as a showcase for local wines. It will be on Suisun Valley Road amid the grape growers and wineries that already call the valley home. "First, we want to build our local base and give them an opportunity to experience wine and the wine-making process," said Doug Sparks of Sunset Cellars and a member of the cooperative.

"By creating a tasting room, we become a destination and that elevates the value of our product."

The tasting room will be staffed by employees from the various wineries because, according to Sparks, wine tasting is also about personal stories from the vintners, growers and workers.

"When you are able to talk to or listen to details from someone who had a hand in the making of the wine, it adds a personal connection to the label," Sparks said. "Our next step will be to attract the quarter of a million drivers who use Interstate 80 every day. We are easily accessible from Sacramento to the Bay Area."

When the cooperative receives its final licensing permit from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, it will serve wines from seven wineries and provide visitors with hands-on experience in the wine-making process. Since the tasting room will be housed in the old Westwood Winery, wine will also be made on the premises.

The objective is to raise awareness about the award-winning wines in Suisun Valley and attract tourists to the area as Jelly Belly, Budweiser and Travis Air Force Base now do.

"This is about providing a service with the goal of becoming ground zero for people who are interested in wine," said Roger King, president of the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association.

"Combined with the other three tasting rooms in the valley, the cooperative gives people another option for wine tasting and exposure."

King hopes the tasting room will be open in the next two weeks so that it can be a part of the summer attractions in the valley.

"This past weekend's success of the art on vine event at Wooden Valley Winery shows that we have what it takes to attract crowds," King said. "As we begin to become a destination, it will spill into the restaurants in the valley and Fairfield, as well as the hotels and other tourism."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

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