Luxury Lifestyle & Travel Consultant Gwen Books visits Winters!

So far off the beaten path, I had never heard of Winters, but this little agricultural town should be investigated. It helps when you enjoy an inside connection as we did, but we have the scoop on what’s hot!

Plan an overnight escape and include a Saturday evening at The Palms Playhouse. A cultural oasis for music, in their 30th year of hosting national touring bands, we were shockingly surprised to enjoy a raucous night of jazzy blues and zydeco, performed by award winning powerhouse singer and musician Carolyn Wonderland. This intimate playhouse hosted Van Morrison’s daughter and singer Shana Morrison last weekend. The venue is located upstairs in the 19th Century Opera House. Eclectic, casual and intimate, I would recommend you pay the corkage and bring your own liquid refreshments and do pre-purchase tickets for the first come seating.

Lodging is limited, another reason to make advance plans. We chose The Abbey House Inn, one of two Winters accommodations. Both Inns are charming, each with distinct advantages. The Abbey House Inn, built in 1905 is a sweet B & B a few blocks from town. A wide porch wraps around the small inn for afternoon cocktails. Five suites, my favorite is the De Winters, downstairs. I haven’t stayed in a B & B for many, many years, but this little gem was well worth the visit. Be careful if you slink into the kitchen in your sock-monkey pajamas for early coffee, as you might bump into an acquaintance! I met lovely bay area travelers; it turned out we had friends in common, truly two degrees of separation these days. Must be good all the time, and avoid jammies that don’t belong out of the bedroom!

Congenial Innkeeper Bruce Smith, knows everyone and can secure a dinner reservation, organize a farm visit and appears on site in the morning to prepare a delectable farm style breakfast. Abbey House Inn has a distinct location advantage, I loved being able to stroll to town for wine tasting, music and dinner and easily pop back for an early afternoon nap.

A few nearby restaurants offer variety and excellent food. We loved the tapas at Ficelle. Owner, Joann Martin, welcomed us and most likely due to our delightful host, she insisted we try many of her menu favorites and then refused to accept payment for our dinner. Small town hospitality with big city flavors, authentic home cooking inspired by her Spanish family meals; make a reservation in summer, as the line circles around the block!

Come celebrate your love in Winters!

Valentines day is almost here. Show how much you care & come celebrate at the Abbey House Inn.

We are adding a few special extras to our list of locally produced goodies including a fresh spring bouquet of flowers, sparkling wines, chocolate dipped strawberries & in-room massage services!

Why not enjoy a meal at one of our fine restaurants, on Friday Feb.14th, enjoy some Bluesy, harmonic inspired live music at the Palms Playhouse with “Rick Estrin & the Nightcats”, then enjoy a nightcap at Preserve… a short stroll back to your  private room, waking to a Chef prepared Farm-to-Table breakfast. A perfect way to spend the holiday!Unknown Eaglewood-Resort-and-Spa

All his career paths led to inn keeping…

It's all in the details!

Winters Express Jan. 9, 2014

Bruce Smith got his son off to college and started thinking that perhaps he would like a quieter life than living in the hustle and bustle of san Francisco and being a realtor. He cruised to the North Bay region _ Sonoma, Healdsburg, Petaluma – and wondered what to do in the next chapter of his life. He stopped in Winters where his fellow realtor, Rafael Galiano, had restored a Victorian, the Inn at Park Winters.
When Smith saw the Abbey House Inn, he rang the bell and asked to speak to the owner. John Siracusa said it was not for sale. When the former innkeeper became ill during the summer of 2013, Liz & John Siracusa asked Smith if he could take over as innkeeper. He officially started running Abbey House on Sept.1, 2013.
“I am overwhelmed with the support and generosity of the business owners and people in this unique town”, says Smith. “In turn, I try to use my skills in art, video & photography to help publicize the businesses and events that go on in Winters. Working together to promote Winters as a destination city is good for all of us. I immediately put Abbey House Inn on various social media websites. Our own website now allows online bookings and virtual tours, which has saved me a lot of phone calls and is bringing us a new clientele”. “People can fly in to Yolo County or Sacramento airports & I will pick them up. No need to rent a car to enjoy a day or so in downtown Winters. you can walk a short distance to downtown. There is so much to see, do hear, eat and enjoy.”
Smith has an eclectic background. His grandmother was a “Rosie the Riveter” in the Richmond shipyards during the WWII and his grandfather was a metal worker who worked on the construction of the Bay Bridge. He was born in Richmond, where his parents met at Richmond High school. When he was 3-4, he moved to Livermore. He was in 4H, raised rabbits and pigeons. His grandparents bought a small property & retired in Lake County and he can remember coming to Winters in the summers, having ice cream at a local drug store and loading up the truck with produce that his mother and grandmother would can.
His first job was with Trans International Airlines, (TIA) in Oakland, as a flight attendant scheduler, which allowed him free travel anywhere in the world. He next worked onboard the Royal Viking Sea, a passenger cruise ship in the dining room as a waiter & responsible for the early risers breakfast set up at 5:30am. He finally became the waiter for the Captain’s table and the onboard Wine Similar.
“I went all over the world with them, been through the Panama canal 23 times, we went up the Yangtze River to Shanghai before China was really open to foreign visitors. The windows of the ship were ordered to be all papered over. There were no cameras aloud anywhere. The populace all dressed in Mao suits. People would stop and stare at me and point at my yellow hair” remembers Smith. “These experiences taught me how to offer five star hospitality service to my guests.”

Once back home, he studied art & art history at Cabrillo College in Aptos. He received a full scholarship to the prestigious private art school in the Oakland hills, California College of Arts & Crafts, now known as California College of the Arts, (CCA) dual majoring in glass & design. He eventually taught there in the glass department. He made glass projects for cathedrals, restaurants, nightclubs & homes. In the late 1980’s he got into neon glass sculpture. That venture took him took him to Manhattan and worked as a designer of interiors and stores for Alexander Julian, the well-known clothes, home and furniture designer.
Once back in San Francisco, he started working in real estate sales. During the 1990’s and beyond, he would buy, refurbish and flip homes.
“i still do photography & artwork, and now use the inn as my gallery. I sold two pieces last weekend I cannot get over the number of interesting, well traveled and creative people visiting & living in Winters”. And generous. Somebody, whom I do not know, left a crate of avocados on the porch & Henry’s Bullfrog Bee’s dropped off gallons of honey & meats for us!” Where else does this happen? ” I feel like my whole life prepared me for being the innkeeper at Abbey House Inn”, concluded Smith.

Santa came to town! 3R Dog Rescue & Abbey House Inn team up to help find homes for dogs rescued from local shelters

IMG_6521We had a great time at the Abbey House Inn on Saturday December 7th. Santa visited the Inn and folks were able to have pictures taken with their dogs & leave with a custom printed treasure. The Inn was full of folks who came out to visit and show their support. Linda Palagi, owner of 3R says, ” We were able to place 2 dogs with new families today,  new volunteers signed up & we raised some much needed funds to continue this important work that saves the lives of these animals.”IMG_6473

Fresh Press! October 12 & 13th

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Welcome to the Wine Country of Western Yolo and Northern Solano Counties.

Roots to Wine is comprised of a group of small, mostly family-run wineries from Capay Valley, Davis, Dunnigan Hills, English Hills and Winters. Our wineries have joined together to promote the quality wine being produced in our regions as well as the available tourism experiences celebrating the region’s rich agricultural history. Representatives from Berryessa Gap Vineyards, Capay Valley Vineyards, Casey Flat Ranch, Crew Wine Company, Julie LePla Winery, Putah Creek Winery, Route 3 Wines, Simas Family Wines, Turkovich Family Wines and Séka Hills have come together to promote wine grape growers and wine producers in the five designated adjacent areas along the western edge of Yolo County and the northwest corner of Solano County.

Roots to Wine offers travelers and visitors from the Bay Area, the Central Valley and neighboring states scenic routes through its nascent wine country. The area is surrounded by fields and farms producing quality organic food and dotted with charming small towns where local restaurants often feature local products.