Monday, December 10, 2007

Made in Solano

Made in Solano -- Local Wines, Candy, Pottery Make Shoppers' Spirits Bright
By Joe Giovannetti | Daily Republic | December 08, 2007 16:43

FAIRFIELD - Holiday shopping is not for the faint of heart.

Some people dread it. Treat it like a harried trip to the grocery store to stock up on canned goods for the apocalypse. Get in, get what you need and get out. The sooner it's done the better.

Other shoppers revel in the holiday season. It's a time to slow down and reflect on the past year. It's an opportunity to show loved ones how important they are to you, even if you don't always tell them. Holiday shopping and the season itself is something to be savored.

But whether you're the type of person to sing 'Deck the Halls' or mumble 'Bah humbug,' you still have to purchase gifts and there's almost certainly at least one person on your list who's impossible to shop for.

Try thinking outside the box and keep Solano County in mind. There are unique, great holiday gifts right in your own back yard. Here's a guide on the best Solano County has to offer.

Bella Terra

A do-it-yourself pottery shop, Bella Terra, allows you to personalize your holiday gift. Choose from items such as coffee mugs, plates and bowls and decorate it for a special someone. Items range in price from $5 to $50. There is a studio fee of $5 for children and $7 for adults.

'Just getting the gift certificate to provide a gift to everyone you know is so quick,' owner Stephanie Bellamy said. 'When you take the time, a couple hours, and you're thinking about that person that's great.

'And I give you a hug when you're done, you can't get hugs from people at Target.'

Where: 318 B Main St., Vacaville
Open: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; open until 9 p.m., Thursday; Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday
Info: 448-5050

Guittard Chocolate Company

Guittard Chocolate has been a California staple sweet for more than 100 years. With the company's move to a Fairfield warehouse covering more than 280,000-square-feet this year, that delicious chocolate is coming right from Solano County.

Guittard has a number of products, but perhaps its most popular is the Single Origin Chocolate, a unique tasting bar where the cacao and sugar content are held constant. The taste differences are attributed to the cacao.

Various Guittard Chocolate items can be purchased at local retailers Safeway, Raley's, Nugget Market and Food for Less. Products are also available on the company's Website from the company's Website,

GV Cellars Winery

GV Cellars Winery is offering deals on splits of its 2004 vintage estate series wine. The estate series is the first wine of the vintage the winery bottles.

Splits (a 375 ml bottle) of the cabernet, merlot blanc, nerlot rose and merlot run from $5 to $13.

The winery is also offering gift baskets from $35 and up.

Where: 635 Mason Road, Fairfield
Open: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays; weekends by appointment
Info: 864-2089
Web site:

The Jelly Belly Factory

If you're looking for holiday candy, Fairfield's famous landmark goes beyond just the jelly bean. Jelly Belly offers chocolate-covered maltballs and almonds as well as Jingle Bell Jells and Sour Gummi Santas.

The standard treat is still, of course, the jelly beans. There are 10- and 40-flavor gift boxes for $4.99 and $14.99

Where: 1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield
Open: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily
Info: 428-2800
Web site:

Jovia Groves Olive Oil

Jovia Groves offers the perfect holiday gift for the Think Green-conscious gourmet.

'We are offering a super high-end olive oil at a great competitive price and part of this is also supporting sustainable agriculture, which is important to the county,' Jovia Groves co-owner Jon Fadhl said.

Jovia Groves' Arbequina olive oil won Best of Show at the Yolo County Fair and the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

'It tends to be more subtle and softer in flavor,' Fadhl said of the Spanish Arbequina. 'The Italian flavors that tend to be more herbish and a little overpowering for the American palate.'

Products are available at Raley's supermarkets in Solano, The Vegetable Patch (2820 Rockville Road, Fairfield) and Made in California (1681 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville). A 500 ml bottle costs around $15.

Ledgewood Creek Winery

Ledgewood Creek Winery allows customers to create their own gift baskets with bottles of Solano County wine.

'It's the perfect time of year for food and wine,' Ledgewood Creek general manager Rick Wehman said. 'Depending on what you're serving we have cabernets and chardonnays that taste great.'

The gift baskets range in price from $35 to $125.

Where: 4589 Abernathy Road, Fairfield
Open: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily
Info: 426-4424
Web site:

Mankas Potters at The Clay Station

Looking to support local art and get a holiday gift? Mankas Potters features pieces made by 10 local artists.

'If you buy something from us, it's from a craftsperson, which seems to be a dying art,' Mankas Potters manager Joni Anderson said. 'We're trying to have a resurgence of that for products made by hand.'

Mankas Potters offers items such as wall hangings, prints and jewelry as well as functional art such as pots and platters.

Some items can be had for $5. Others cost as much as $200.

Where: 2595 Mankas Corner Road, Suisun Valley
Open: Noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday
Info: 422-4942

Mariani's Fruit Stand

Mariani's offers dry fruit with a taste of the Mediterranean, but grown in California.

'There are lots of parties and family gatherings and dried fruits look great, they display great and they taste great,' Mariani's director of business development Patti Sousa said. 'The fruits are sweet and moist and it's nice to have that along with the heavier foods that come with the holidays.'

Mariani's has more than 50 varieties of dried fruit. They can be purchased individually or in gift baskets. A 10-ounce basket costs $9.99. A 3-pound basket costs $19.99.

Where: Mariani's at the Nut Tree; 1681 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville
Open: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily
Info: 455-7899
Web site:

Rock Art by Art Buckner

Art Buckner's been making his Rock Art for 40 years, but recently just started making them for profit.

Buckner gathers rock slabs from rock and mineral shows and transform them into wearable art. His belt buckles and bolo ties are a great gift for the cowboy in your family and can be had for around $20.

'It's a unique gift,' Buckner said. 'There are very few people doing it anymore. It's really a dying art.'

Products available at Made in California, 1681 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville.

Sepay Groves Olive Garden

Sepay Groves emphasizes freshness in their product that you might not find in the grocery store.

'We take pride in our product,' co-owner Peggy Quartemonte said. 'It's important to purchase something fresh as opposed to 2-year-old oil you'll get in some other places.'

Sepay Groves sells a variety of products including olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, stuffed olives, spreads and mustard.

Where: 370 Chadbourne Road, Fairfield
Open: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday; Noon to 4 p.m., Sunday
Info: 434-8222
Web site:

Wooden Valley Winery

'We specialize in finding the perfect wine for anyone,' tasting room manager Kerri Cooper said. 'We have a wide variety of different types of wine. For the holidays it's chardonnay, merlot and, specifically, we have a gold medal-winning cabernet.'

Wooden Valley Winery wines are an affordable holiday gift. Wines are as inexpensive as $8 and top out at $14. Wooden Valley's port is $24.

'Honestly, any one of our wines is a great gift,' Cooper said. 'And if you're looking for something local, you've taken the time to see what is out there and you're giving a little bit of yourself in that gift.'

Where: 4756 Suisun Valley Road, Fairfield
Open: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday
Info: 864-0730
Web site:

Reach Joe Giovannetti at 427-6935 or

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