Capay Valley is one of the most beautiful locations in Yolo County. It is located in the northwest corner of Yolo County and is bounded to the west by the Blue Ridge Range that separates Yolo from Napa County. This is the third in a multi-part series on Yolo County and its surrounding environs which are so interesting and varied that justice could not be done in one or even two brief articles.
As previously reported, Yolo County is an agricultural region with approximately 203,000 people mostly concentrated in Davis, Woodland and Winters. The county accounts for about 90% of the US tomato market in terms of growing, processing and canning of tomatoes and is also known for its fruits and nuts, particularly almonds, figs, citrus and stone fruits. The Capay Valley is home to a significant portion of this produce and boasts the Cache Creek Casino and Resort (which is owned and operated by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, which actually named the valley – Capay means ‘stream’) as well. Wine grape growing has a historical presence and is on the upswing with new plantings appearing almost weekly in the Capay Valley AVA (established in 2003) 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 varietals from Bordeaux,Burgundy and the Rhone regions.
Also nestled in the valley is the original operation of Farm Fresh To You. Capay Organic (the original name) is one of the original organically grown fresh produce delivery services. Capay Organic first developed a collection of markets and restaurants that understood the growing (no pun intended) demand for organic fruits and vegetables. If the name sounds familiar it may be that you have been to their Capay Organic Store in the San Francisco Ferry Terminal building. Begun in the early 1970’s by Kathy Barsotti and her husband Martin Barnes, they started farming as a hobby with 20 acres. Since then their operation has grown to over 350 acres with over 40,000 customers in mostly northern California but also extended to southern California. The farm and business are now operated by brothers Thaddeus and Freeman Barsotti and their wives. Every other Saturday they conduct free tractor driven tours of the farm and its 40+ fruit and vegetable crops. Of yeah, they also raise organic chicks that produce organic eggs for sale.
Besides the Cache Creek Casino and Resort (which includes an award-winning world-class golf course), the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation has over 11,000 acres under cultivation. They grow the full width and breath of fruits and vegetables. Clearly, however, they are making their name with their Seka Hills wines and olive oils. They are just completing the first commercial olive pressing mill in Yolo county to support their own oil production. They will also serve as a custom press facility for anyone else who may have previously trucked their olives to Sonoma or elsewhere for pressing. The facility is world-class. It has been designed to support retail tasting and sales and is less than a mile away from the Casino and Resort. A little vision here??
In summation, Capay Valley is one of the hidden treasures of Yolo! Get moving and discover the bounty of Yolo! To get there from the Bay Area take I80 east. Follow I505 north toward Redding and exit on to State Route 16 north toward Williams.