Despite its deceptive name, Winters, California — located a little more than an hour drive from Berkeley — offers a beautiful summer weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. Situated between California’s North Coast mountain ranges and the extensive, irrigated fields of the Central Valley, this small town is a charming mix of outdoors and agriculture. Winters was officially incorporated in 1898 — though there is record of settlement long before that date — and still offers a slice of insight into the Old West. The renovation of the buildings downtown, coupled with the repavement of Main Street and the landscaping of the city park, make it an idyllic place to relax, unwind and break out the cowboy boots (over a nice glass of Roussanne, that is).
1) Get settled.
Experience luxury at the Inn at Park Winters, a renovated historic estate that is now a destination bed-and-breakfast. The stylish rooms — an artful balance of contemporary and antique — are well worth their price. The breakfast is complimentary and locally sourced, served alongside delicious brew. Guests of the hotel have access to a saltwater pool and hot tub, which offers a perfect escape from the day heat and the night chill. The 10-acre manicured grounds will make you fall in love with California all over again.
2) A sip and a snack.
Relax at Turkovich Family Wines tasting room, a rustic, air-conditioned venue with vaulted ceilings. Stretch out on the plush outdoor couches shaded by trees and umbrellas. Turkovich offers five complimentary tastings and free cheese tastings from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and food and wine flights from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Turkovich’s vineyards are based in Winters, and the cheese that they serve is made by a family member. The result? A truly toothsome pairing.
3) Fourth Fridays Downtown Feast
Trek into town and experience Winters’ Fourth Fridays, a small downtown “feast” that takes over Main Street from March through October. Grab a bite to eat while live music plays, check out local vendors and sample wine from the nearby vineyards. The downtown lot offers free, convenient parking.
4) Evening stroll.
Head over to Winters’ historic steel trestle bridge that spans across Putah Creek. The Southern Pacific Railroad erected the bridge in 1906 and was instrumental in making Winters a booming rail town. The bridge was renovated for its 100th anniversary and is now perfect for pedestrians and cyclists. The view of the sunset is stunning, but don’t forget to look under the bridge: due to the recent rain, the creek is cool and bubbling, shaded by hypergreen foliage.
5) Power up.
Have breakfast at Park Winters, or try the quiche and coffee at Steady Eddy’s Coffee House. The cafe roasts the majority of its coffee in-house, or from another local roaster and friend of Steady Eddy’s owner. Like most things in Winters, friends come together to fortify local business. Homemade fruit bars are delicious and rotate seasonally.
6) Meals on wheels.
Grab lunch to-go at Preserve Market. The building was Winters’ original train depot and is now a cleanly refined space that tangos with the rustic chic. Preserve Market features house-cured and smoked meats, kombucha and local beers on tap and hearty Americana staples such as salami grinders and meatloaf, along with salad options. Pack a lunch and head to Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, which offers a multitude of hiking trails and the ideal place to picnic.
7) Last call.
Savor a pint or a flight at Berryessa Brewing Company’s taproom. The taproom is on the same grounds as the 20-barrel craft brewery, which offers roughly six rotating beers on draught. You can sit outside at the stylishly covered picnic tables, or inside at the bar. The brewery is a destination, and depending on the day, it can have live music and food trucks on sight. Follow the brewery on social media or call ahead for event updates. You can also purchase a 64-ounce growler (inquire about price) to take home, bringing a little bit of Winters to the Bay Area.
8) Pizza pie, oh my!
Settle down for dinner at Putah Creek Cafe, which has a delectable seasonal menu. The real prize is the wood-fired pizza oven, which is wheeled out to the front dining patio. Try the brick chicken pizza with roasted garlic and oozing mozzarella and provolone — the perfect filling meal for the long drive home!