Berryessa Gap is a multi-layered heritage story: immigrants, pioneers, farmers, and entrepreneurs…California Zinfandel in a nutshell!
Berryessa Gap’s family connection to the land runs deep with farming roots from both Spanish and German ancestry in Winters, Yolo County. Wait…Winters? Yolo?
Consult the map to get a bead on Winters. It’s that historic old west farming town situated just east of Napa County and west of Davis where a gap in the coastal mountains forms the gateway from the Sacramento Valley to both Napa and Sonoma counties. In fact, State Highway 128 winds its way around Lake Berryessa northwest through both regions – all the way to the Pacific Coast – like a scenic passage through some of the greatest vineyard lands in the world: Napa Valley, Knights Valley, Alexander Valley, and Anderson Valley.
As for pioneers, John Wolfskill, via a land grant in the 1840’s was the first horticulturalist in the region whose ranch is now the U.C. Davis Wolfskill experimental orchards. As for immigrant farmers, Berryessa Gap patriarch Dan Martinez, Sr., was a first-generation farmer of Spanish origins who planted apricots, almonds, prunes, walnuts, and grapevines here. He partnered with San Francisco winemaker and wine historian Ernest Peninou in 1969 to develop a grapevine rootstock nursery business, the Yolo Hills Viticulture Society, supplying U.C. Davis-sourced grapevine rootstock to what would become renowned Napa and Sonoma Valley vineyards – and beyond.
Steeped in the agricultural history in Winters, the Martinez family’s winery operations began on Main Street in 2002 in the repurposed old Winters Winery facility and is now the location of their expanded wine tasting room where visitors can taste and purchase the winery’s Zinfandel, other Estate wines, and a diverse selection of varietals, blends and collections (Highway 128 and Gozar!) made by Berryessa Gap’s U.C. Davis alumnus winemaker, Nicole Salengo. A second Berryessa Gap tasting venue is located in downtown Winters.