Sunflowers are known the world over for their sunny yellow faces and cheerful exuberance, and there’s no better place to see them than Yolo County in California’s Central Valley. Each summer, more than 50,000 acres of these towering beauties burst into bloom across the region.
“If you drive around the county between the middle of June and mid-July, you’re going to see acres and acres of them,” says Heather Fortes, founder of SacTown Bites Food Tour Adventures, which offers a Sunflowers, Bees & Brunch tour. “They're not like in a flower garden where they're all cattywampus and leaning—they’re like little soldiers all facing the sun. It’s just such a beautiful sight.”
Grown primarily for cooking oil production, the flowers produce more than 25 percent of the world’s sunflower seeds, including nearly 95 percent of the country’s hybrid seeds.
Sunflowers can be spotted at farms all around Dixon, Woodland, and Davis each summer, Fortes says, and they’re planted in different locations from year to year. “Park Winters is always a great stop if people want the experience of cutting their own bouquets, and at Turkovich Family Wines in Winters, you can book a wine tasting and then do a self-drive visit to their sunflower fields.”
While it may be tempting to pull over and take selfies in the fields as you’re driving around Yolo County, visitors should be mindful that sunflower farms are private property. Instead of posing among the blooms, which can cause damage to valuable crops and land, find a safe place to park along a public road to take photos.
It’s also important to respect the sunflower fields’ resident bees as they collect nectar and carry pollen from flower to flower. The bees can sometimes sting human visitors if they’re disturbed in their important work, so be sure to give them their space. The bees—-and the farmers whose fields they pollinate—will thank you.
Berryessa Gap Vineyards, Winters
Along with sunflower-themed wine dinners and sunflower seed pairings, Berryessa Gap will feature a Sunflowers + Vines and Wines art exhibit June 29–Nov. 1 at the downtown tasting room. You can also purchase sunflower oil from local producer La Tourangelle.
California Agriculture Museum, Woodland
The California Agriculture Museum just unveiled a new sunflower display that includes a presentation of 42 fascinating sunflower facts and a planting station for kids.
Park Winters, Winters
Stroll through the farm and pick your own bouquet at Park Winters, which grows a gorgeous variety of flowers including cosmos, dahlias, poppies, snapdragons, and—of course—sunflowers. The venue also offers garden tours and a charming inn for overnight stays.
Sactown Bites Sunflowers, Bees & Brunch
Join SacTown Bites to learn all about sunflowers, pollination, beekeeping, and agriculture. Along with a tour of a sunflower farm and a visit to the California Agriculture Museum, the event features a honey tasting, wine and cheese, and a farm-to-fork brunch by Woodland’s Savory Café.
Turkovich Family Wines, Winters
The winery’s Sunflower Field Pass & Private Tasting allows guests to visit Turkovich's nearby Button & Turkovich sunflower fields, where flower fans can photograph, paint, or simply admire the sunny blossoms.