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Winters

Find country charm and farm-fresh food in this enticing corner of the Central Valley

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Farm-to-fork culture runs deep in Winters, a Yolo County farm town that also has a sophisticated foodie palate.

In the 1840s, fruit trees, vegetables, and grapevines started popping up in this Central Valley area, and the railroad’s arrival in 1875 put Winters on the map. Today, it sits right off Highway 128, about 30 miles west of Sacramento, but its heart lies in its picturesque downtown, dotted with spots like Steady Eddy’s, known for sandwiches, salads, and drinks like the chocolatey Monticello Mocha. Expect to see a collection of bicycles parked outside, a reminder that Yolo County is heaven for anyone who likes to explore on two wheels.

Thanks to its agricultural foundation, you could spend days tasting your way through Winters’ thriving food scene. Go to Preserve Public House for Niman beef–fueled cheeseburgers, Ficelle for tapas, Putah Creek Cafe for pizza cooked in an outdoor oven, and Buckhorn Steakhouse for acclaimed steaks and the ambience of its grand, historic property.

Two current hotels sit downtown too: the Victorian-style Abbey House Inn and the 73-room Hotel Winters, which also has a spa and a rooftop lounge. To get a taste of farm life, head just outside town to Park Winters, a B&B set in an 1865 farmhouse that is a popular wedding site. It’s still a working farm, so you can come just to dine at its outdoor Farm-to-Table Experience, or tour the place to see what’s growing. (Be sure to say hello to the egg-laying residents of the Chicken Palace.)

Winters’ culinary scene includes plenty of craft beer, too—after all, it’s located in Yolo County’s Beer-Muda Triangle. Don’t miss Berryessa Brewing Co., located in a former fruit-packing facility and known for beers such as the Separation Anxiety IPA, Free Kittens Lager, and the Whippersnapper English-style ale. On weekends, come to the patio for food trucks and live music. Downtown, check out the stouts and IPAs at family-owned brewpub Hooby’s Brewing.

When it’s wine time, taste the Tempranillo at Berryessa Gap Winery and Rhône varietals such as Syrah and Viognier at Turkovich Family Wines, whose tasting room also has an artisan cheese shop.

For fresh-air fun, hike the loop at Stebbins Cold Canyon Trail (part of the University of California Natural Reserve System), with views of both Lake Berryessa and the Berryessa Mountains, or head to Lake Solano to fish, rent canoes, or get a campsite. Or, just stroll and shop downtown, soaking up the charm of this community that takes pride in both its booms and its busts. Come during the summer for the Earthquake Festival, which remembers the 1892 temblor that nearly destroyed Winters, but also celebrates the subsequent effort to rebuild.