There are many counties in California that demand one’s attention. Each has its own special attractions for visitors. Perhaps one of the fastest rising stars, however, is Yolo County, located just west of Sacramento. Yolo (originally spelled Yola after the Yolan people, a local Native American tribe) was one of the original 18 California counties established in 1850. Named Fremont County back then, it is bordered by the counties of Napa, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Lake and Colusa. This is the first in a multi-part series on Yolo County and its environs which are so interesting and varied that justice could not be done in one brief article.
Yolo County is primarily an agricultural region with approximately 203,000 people, nearly 70% of which are concentrated in Davis, Woodland and Winters. The remaining 60,000 are scattered around the largely rural areas. The county accounts for about 90% of the US tomato market in terms of growing, processing and canning of tomatoes and is also well-known for its fruits and nuts, particularly almonds, figs, citrus and stone fruits. Wine grape growing has a historical presence but is experiencing a resurgence with new plantings appearing almost weekly.
Best known for its largest city, Davis, home of the University of California Davis, Yolo County has many attractions for “agro” tourists as well as general wine aficionados and foodies. The county is blessed with passionate visionary business people and political leaders. Woodland is the county seat with a memorable historic downtown and a unique Ag history center nearby. Winters, a charming city just 21 miles from Woodland pulses with activity and is marketing itself as the perfect day trip from either Sacramento or the nearly by San Francisco Bay area. Finally, Davis, about 14 miles from Woodland has a plethora of attractions and a vibrant down town not to mention the buzz associated with the university.
Aside from its three major cities, Yolo is also home to several American Viticultural Areas: Clarksburg, Capay Valley and Dunnigan Hills. Each of these has different terroir based upon the soil and micro climate and therefore is particularly hospitable to different grape varietals. Many Italian and Spanish grape varietals thrive here as well as many of the better known French varietals from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone regions.
The exciting part of the county is the enthusiasm expressed by all with whom you come in contact. Wineries, restaurants, lodging establishments, museums, art galleries and the operators of the Cache Creek Casino Resort, it doesn’t matter, they all share their absolute faith that Yolo County and their cities and attractions are the best places to live in and to visit.
In internet slang YOLO can have several meanings. One that clearly does not fit is “You Obviously Lack Originality”. These cities and towns are nothing if not true American originals. More appropriate may be “You Only Live Once” and for the denizens of Yolo County there is only one place to do that living and they are there!! As mentioned above, there are too many delightful and exciting venues, activities and attractions in Yolo County to identify in one short article so stay tuned over the next several days as this Yolo story unfolds. Watch this space!
Disclaimer: the author was hosted by the Yolo County Visitors Bureau but remains committed to providing objective information.