Putah Creek Winery
Davis, California is a small college town just west of Sacramento on the way to San Francisco. University of California, Davis is one of the lesser known of California’s big universities. That is unless you are in the wine biz and fully understand the scope of their Viticulture program. For those of you that don’t, you will be hard pressed to go wine tasting in Napa and not taste a wine that doesn’t have a UC Davis grad that had some part in bringing the juice to your glass. The irony is that while driving around the town of Davis you are hard pressed to see any connection to the wine world besides the 1800 seat Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. I guess that’s because college kids are too young to drink or can’t afford good wine so why bother.
The Putah Creek winery is one of the few spots in town where you can spend an hour or so indulging in a great flight of wines. While the actual winery is on the south side of town, the small and intimate tasting room is located right in the heart of downtown Davis.
As soon as you enter the tasting room, it is clear that the goal is not to sell thousands of cases of wine nor host large wine parties here. Although they do have a back patio where they can host larger groups, the main tasting room space is only big enough for a maximum of 8-12 people at any one time. The business plan is all about small and intimate. Enjoy wine and learn about wine. Pretty simple.
I visited the winery on a Saturday afternoon and it was definitely slow. I think the door opened once during the :90 minutes I was there. I love to get the vibe of tasting rooms when they are full of action. However, getting an extended period to talk with the people pouring the wine can be ridiculously rewarding. It’s your time to ask all of the questions that you can’t ask when it’s busy. Lucky for me, Brett was working that day and he was full of information and a great person to represent the winery.
Brett was friendly, knowledgable and more than willing to pour, chat, pour and share some more. One tidbit that caught my ear was that one of the top priorities in the tasting room is education. I didn’t expect that. Of course they want to sell wine but having a small tasting room, playing soft jazz playing and limited elbow room at the counter contributes their ability to talk wine. I cannot stress how much I love a lively tasting room but I think I’m a fan of this concept.
110 F street, Suite D
Davis, CA 95616
Putah Creek Winery
9518 Drummond Lane
Davis, CA 95618
How to get there:
Head west from Sacramento on HWY 80 toward San Francisco. Exit Richards Blvd and turn right into Davis. Turn right on the first street after going under the bridge which is ironically 1st Street. Then make an immediate left on F Street. The tasting room is on your immeidate right.