When you think of California wine country, your mind probably wanders to Sonoma and Napa. But head east over the ridge and you enter Fairfield, home of the world-famous Jelly Belly Factory and the newly opened Sonoma Harvest Olive Oil & Winery.
Fairfield and surroundings offer the classic wine country experience, but perhaps you have more of a beer palate. Like everywhere else in California, Fairfield has a burgeoning taproom scene to quaff beers foreign and domestic. To name a couple, try out Heretic Brewing Company and of course the famous Anheuser-Busch Brewery.
“Fairfield is best known as being home to the Jelly Belly Factory and Anheuser-Busch Brewery, however, this destination has so much more to offer,” said Brianna Boyd of the Fairfield Visitors Bureau. “Many traveling Interstate 80 between San Francisco and Sacramento have yet to discover this region is home to a thriving wine country in Suisun Valley. We have something for everyone, from craft brew, wine and olive oil tastings and tours, to go-carts, roller coasters, and a train museum.”
But at some point, you’re going to want to indulge that sweet tooth. Time for the Jelly Belly Factory. The company offers daily tours – and yes, of course, there are samples.
“Last year, we unveiled an updated tour experience, including high definition videos and new interactive exhibits,” said John Jamison, vice president of Retail Operations. “Of course, the tour is still free, but it’s a new look with more information and action than before.”
The cool thing about the Jelly Belly Factory is that they offer a lot more than jelly beans. “There’s a lot to do at the Jelly Belly Visitor Center this summer, whether you’re looking for a day trip or entertaining visitors,” said Jamison. “From our free tour through the factory, to our Chocolate and Wine Experience, we have something for everyone.”
Be sure to mark your calendar for Jelly Belly’s Fifth Annual Candy Palooza, September 23 to 24, featuring samples, rides and live entertainment.
Olive Oil and Wine Tasting
One of my favorite Fairfield destinations is Sonoma Harvest Olive Oil & Winery, which offers Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rose – for those hot summer nights. “This is the first vintage for our wines and we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished, particularly the Cabernet Sauvignon with layers of black currant, cherry, cranberry and citrus peel.” said founder Mike Brossier.
Sonoma Harvest is family friendly, with a Kid’s Club room full of activities. Visitors come here to enjoy wine, shopping and free tastes of delicious gourmet goods: olive oils, balsamics, honeys, jams and mustards.
Check out the Roasted Jalapeno Olive Oil (or go with the straight California Extra Virgin, if you’re a traditionalist). In addition, they have a great selection of vinegars – try Mango White Balsamic for something intriguing.
“We also have a great new line of barbecue sauces in the works,” said Brossier. “Maple Rosemary, Moroccan Harissa, Korean Chile – they’re just built for ribs.”
You can find the same diversity in their honeys and mustards: Champagne Shallot Mustard, Mandarin Orange Honey or Honey Truffle Mustard.
“We are thrilled to see a growing olive oil industry in Fairfield, said Boyd. “Our newest addition, Sonoma Harvest, opened its tasting room in 2016 and joins Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company and Sepay Groves as local olive oil companies. Sonoma Harvest is often a stop for families leaving Jelly Belly, as parents enjoy a chance to sample their gourmet goods and wine, while children play in the Kid’s Club room.” All three olive oil destinations offer tastings and olive oil education.
Farmer’s Market and Farm Stands
The region is famous for its fresh produce. Farm stands dot the landscape and carry just about every seasonal fruit and vegetable imaginable – peaches, pears, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and more. Often referred to as a “hidden gem”, be sure to check out Larry’s Produce. They have all sorts of vegetables and fruit to choose from and an awesome garden where you can harvest your own vegetables and flowers. In addition to finding fresh produce – check out the area’s antiques and art.
Along with the wineries and breweries, many local businesses show visitors the ‘taste’ of Fairfield is flavorful, diverse, and fun.” Take a trip to Fairfield, a family-friendly environment with lots to do. For more information on “top things to do” in Fairfield visit www.visitfairfieldca.com.