Solano County is a wine region halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento in California's North Coast AVA. It is considered an up-and-coming area, but today is more notable for its geographical position in California's wine country: Napa County lies immediately to the west, and the town of Davis on Solano County's northern border is home to the famous viticulture and enology department of the University of California, Davis. The wines produced in the county are rustic and fruit driven, mostly made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.
The AVA covers the whole of Solano County, which sits on the Sacramento Delta and enjoys temperature-moderating influences from the same San Pablo Bay that is so important to viticulture in nearby Napa Valley. Viticulture is mostly confined to the western part of the county, where the Vaca mountain range provides a multitude of suitable mesoclimates for the production of premium wine. The two sub-AVAs of Solano County can be found in this part of the region: Suisun Valley and Solano County Green Valley (so-called to distinguish it from Green Valley in the Russian River Valley). Some wineries can be found in the north near Davis and in the very west near the boundaries of the Clarksburg AVA of Yolo County.
Solano County enjoys a maritime climate due to the close proximity of the Sacramento Delta. Ocean breezes and fog from both Suisun Bay and San Pablo Bay help to cool the vineyards, which extends the growing season and leads to grapes that produce balanced wines with good acidity and phenolic ripeness.
The soils across Solano County are largely alluvial, having been deposited on the flat valley floors over many years by rivers that run through the area. The soils have differing levels of fertility, and the shallower sandstone and shale types found in the foothills of the Vaca mountains are generally considered to be the most suitable for vineyard cultivation. Free-draining and with limited fertility, these soils cause the vines to struggle for water and nutrients, which results in smaller berries with more-concentrated flavors.
Viticulture in Solano County began in the 1860s, when European settlers made their way to California in droves to find their fortune during the Gold Rush. However, the period of Prohibition in the 1920s spelt the end of winemaking in the region for the next 50 years. Recovery came during the American wine renaissance of the 1970s, when pioneering vignerons began to look at the potential of the region for the production of quality wine.
Today, Solano County has a thriving wine industry, and the county's location just outside of San Francisco means that it is becoming a popular destination for wine tourists. It also has a large number of vineyards operated by contract growers, who sell their produce to winemakers. Grapes from the area are often used in regional Californian blends.