OnLine Newsletter
Napa Valley Summer Musicals
Lake County Travel Itinerary
Around the Lake We Go!
Sabor de Napa
A Latino New Wave Gets Creative Juices Flowing for Community
Wine Country Recipe
Clear Lake Salad
Wine Country Featured Events
A Taste of Redwood Valley
Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction Weekend Drawing
Newsletter Trivia Contest—Enter and Win!*
A Taste of Redwood Valley- Mendocino County

FATHER'S DAY EVENT- June 18 & June 19th 2005, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

The 14th Annual “A Taste of Redwood Valley” invites you to enjoy a weekend of sensory experiences in the heart of Mendocino Wine Country. Taste award-winning wines, sample local gourmet foods and listen to live music as you tour through 13 wineries. Get a close look at vintage cars in their “Tour du Vin”, a classic car show traveling from winery to winery. Tickets are $25.00 and include a logo wine glass, wine tasting and food for two days, and entry into a drawing for wine prizes.  Purchase tickets at any participating winery.  For information, visit or call 1.800.760.3739 or email

Inn at Schoolhouse Creek

Inn at Schoolhouse Creek"Whereas most small inns located along the Mendocino coast have to make do with an acre or less, the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek has the luxury of spreading its nine private, immaculate cottages amidst 10 acres of beautiful flower gardens, lush meadows, and cypress groves. As a result, the instant you pull into the driveway you feel like you've gotten away from it all and entered a more tranquil environment." - Northern California, Best Places, 2001

Whether you are searching for a romantic weekend escape or a fun filled getaway with your family and pets, the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek has accommodations to fit every budget and taste. Our new Cliffside Cottages offer some of the best white water ocean views on the coast. Unwind, relax and enjoy life on the Mendocino Coast.

The Inn at Schoolhouse Creek ~ 7051 North Highway One
Little River, California 95456
(800) 731-5525

The Inn at the Tides

The Inn at the TidesThe Inn at the Tides invites you to visit one of the premier Sonoma Coast resorts. The six rolling acres encompass 86 bay view rooms, two onsite restaurants, fish market and gift shop. Relax in our heated swimming pool, whirlpool spa and Finnish sauna or rejuvenate yourself with an in-room therapeutic massage.

What better way to spend your evening then by sipping fine wines paired with sumptuous five course faire at our 20th Annual Dinner with the Winemaker Series in The Bay View Restaurant. Join us June 17th for the Wattle Creek Winemaker Dinner with host Michael Scholz. If you enjoy fine Italian cuisine, reserve a seat for our Big Night Gala June 24th for a family style Italian dinner featuring Ruffino winery. For reservations, please email or visit our website at to view additional winemaker dates and menu selections.

Grape Leaf Inn

Grape Leaf InnThe picturesque Grape Leaf Inn is a luxuriously restored Queen Anne Victorian. Located in Healdsburg, in the heart of the California wine country and only an hour from the Golden Gate Bridge, Sonoma County's Grape Leaf Inn has been warmly welcoming its guests for over two decades.

This award-winning bed and breakfast combines the gracious hospitality of a country inn with meticulous service, fine cuisine, and 12 luxurious accommodations. Stylish, contemporary decor paired with timeless antiques meld to create the best of California wine country style and luxury. The relaxing ambience, attentive staff, and its unmistakable romance have made this bed and breakfast one of the most sought after small luxury inns in the Sonoma wine country.

View Grape Leaf Inn's accommodations, check availability, and book on-line any time of day or night at "Leave the stress of everyday life behind and surrender to the allure of the wine country; Escape to the romance of the Grape Leaf Inn ".


Around the Lake We Go!

Northern California's scenic Lake County is experiencing a nascent renaissance.  A new generation of growers, wineries and hospitality is remodeling old tourist destinations and building new ones that are state-of-the-art.  Indeed, things are changing fast in this attractive area, which is focused around the beautiful, recreation-oriented jewel of Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California.  Whether you are enjoying a romantic getaway, or balancing family fun with wine country explorations, Lake County offers everything you need to enjoy a rich, exciting change of pace. 

Cultural influences from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and beyond are coalescing around the lake.  For its hospitality, Lake County offers a blend of wine country experience with a diversity of cultural opportunities that are unparalleled.   And the litany of top-notch concerts of popular music at Konocti Harbor Resort draws thousands monthly to a unique Wine Country value-added destination!

As you explore the area, the focus is usually on Clear Lake's periphery, a leisurely circular drive.  Stellar vines and wines abound, and a plethora of water activities and nature.  There are three outstanding 18-hole golf courses; you can typically walk on and play even on a Saturday! In Middletown County Park, you might explore the 2005 Lake County Sculpture Walk, a stroll blending the work of nature and world-class art.  There is definitely a lot to do. 

A day trip from Napa County to Lake County is an easy jaunt.  If your focus is already on Up Valley Napa, Calistoga or Pope Valley, then you are on your way.  Middletown, as the name implies, is less than 20 miles from downtown Calistoga and about the same distance from Clear Lake. 

Most of us will want to stay longer though, perhaps to enjoy hot summer days, cool water and refreshing nights, along with the diverse entertainment the area has to offer.  You can enter the circular Clear Lake Itinerary at any point around the lake.  Find your entry spot along the lake, and explore from there. 

A map that includes most of the wineries mentioned in this article is downloadable at the Lake County Winegrape Growers website, and the friendly volunteers at the Lake County Visitor Information Center in Lucerne on the eastern side of the lake between Shannon Ridge and Ceago wineries are exceptionally helpful. 

The Lake County Circle Itinerary


Lakeport English Inn
Mallard House
The Beachcomber Resort
Blue Fish Cove Resort
The Lodge at Blue Lakes


Guenoc & Langtry Estate Vineyards & Winery
Ployéz Winery
Brassfield Estate Winery
Shannon Ridge Winery
Ceago Estate Wines
Steele Winery
Wildhurst Vineyards



If you are spending more than a day at the lake, resorts and bed & breakfasts dot many lakefront areas around Clear Lake. Following are some recommendations.  The Lakeport English Inn offers High Tea and warm accommodations, along with turndown service and a special British bedtime treat.  Nearby, the Mallard House personalizes your visit with terrific, friendly service in a traditional California vacation setting.  Located beyond Upper Lake, The Lodge at Blue Lakes offers nicely kept rooms and lake recreation without motors at the side of Highway 20.

For family-friendly, extended stays, you might spend time with the good old boys at The Beachcomber Resort in Lucerne.  Enjoy boatloads of water fun; maybe learn to drive the boat at this throwback to another era of classic California vacationdom.  The Blue Fish Cove Resort in Clearlake Oaks is another old-time favorite one staffer remembers from childhood, run by nice people, with pedal boats and wave runners available for rent.

Though the Magoon family has retired from Guenoc & Langtry Estate Vineyards & Winery, the spectacular views of the Guenoc Valley and the historic home of colorful old-time theater star Lilly Langtry are still the perfect setting for a picnic.  Nearby Middletown and the Guenoc Valley are off the lake, so Guenoc will be your first or last tasting opportunity if you are approaching or leaving via Highway 29.  Petite Sirahs, which have won numerous medals, and the awesome Vintage Port are standout wines at Guenoc.

Moving towards the lake, at Ployéz Winery, European transplant Gerald Ployéz practices an interesting Eurocentric winemaking style.  The only winery producing sparkling wine in the county, we also liked the Gamay Beaujolais.  This sprightly, lightweight red has a deep, dry masculine temperament.  With its rock bottom low alcohol at 12.5%, it is a tantalizing food wine!  The winery is also known for its musical events, featuring local talent and the many stars who reside on the lake.  On June 19, The Ployéz Jazz Festival kicks off a Saturday Evening Jazz Series running July through October.

Visiting Brassfield Estate Winery requires an appointment, but is worth it!  This ambitious winery is already delivering on its phenomenal potential.  After a short twisty drive, you arrive in the hot new High Valley area which has spectacular volcano views, history and an impressive new winery tableau.  The friendly staff loves showing off additional sweeping views of the valley from the hillside ridge vineyards if you arrange for a longer tour. 

The Brassfield Zinfandel is fruit forward in a way that will be familiar to fans of Monterey County wines.  You also might enjoy the gentle, not overdone sweetness of the tasty, winery-only Gewürztraminer, which was a perfect compliment back at home to the subtle spiciness of hot pepper marinated ahi tuna.  Currently, tasting is available by appointment only, but is easy to arrange.  Call (707) 998.1985.

Pioneers in the area for more than 25 years, Clay and Margarita Shannon have developed world-class vineyards throughout Lake County.  The 2005 Lake County Grower of the Year recently began offering its own superlative wines at Shannon Ridge Winery, a charming new tasting room in an historic one-room schoolhouse in Clearlake Oaks.  The wines here are first-class, and offer great value.  The Sauvignon Blanc is made from only the higher elevation fruit produced in the area.  The red wines are consistently terrific at Shannon Ridge; you owe it to yourself to taste through the complete list offered!

As members of the Fetzer family emerge from non-compete agreements following the sale of their venerable Mendocino County brand, new projects are being revealed, and Ceago Estate Wines is perhaps the most exciting and ambitious of all.  Biodynamic, sustainable farming rises to a new level, completely friendly to neighbors like turtles and bald eagles.  Impressive faux-granite walls flake at your fingertips. They are made from RASTRA, an attractive, innovative, energy-efficient recycled material. You will want to visit this property for the wines, and to get a handle on plans that include an Eco-focused set of 40 casitas you will want to have first dibs on.

While Ceago’s new Lake County plantings proceed to fruition, Redwood Valley in Mendocino County and McNab Ranch south of Hopland supply the grapes, which are now married to state-of-the-art Lake County hospitality. Boaters can stop at the picturesque dock here, then explore wines like the Ceago Kathleen’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, one of the most popular wines in the area.  The Rosita of Cabernet and Merlot is another perfect match to the Mediterranean climate and attitude.

In Kelseyville, the Blue Wing Saloon is scheduled to open this summer, and the completely revamped Tallman Hotel, with eight hotel rooms and four more cottage duplexes, is due in late fall.  Yes, Clear Lake hospitality is on the move!  If you are hungry, try the Blue Heron restaurant down the street, a casual favorite of locals for family style meals and tasty Mexican treats. 

A little inland from the lake between Lakeport and Kelseyville, Steele Winery beckons. Former winemaker and vineyard manager of cult winery Edmeades in Anderson Valley, Jed Steele also presided as founding winemaker and general manager at the birth of industry giant Kendall Jackson.  In recent years he has upgraded the wines at the old Konocti Winery, under both the Steele and Shooting Star labels. 

The great staff here is ready to help you explore wines made with fruit carefully chosen from unique spots around California; Pinot Noir and Zinfandel wines from the legendary DuPratt Vineyard in Mendocino are good examples.  The Lake County Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc and the Steele Catfish Zinfandel, made from the fruit of 105 year-old vines, were particularly impressive. A Farmer’s Market operates on the property Saturdays from 9-12 during summer.

The Wildhurst Vineyards tasting room experience expresses the charm of old-time Kelseyville, while Winemaker Mark Burch (who also makes wine for others) shows he is ready to break out to megastar status.  We liked the light, 2.5% residual sugar Johannesburg Riesling, a tasting room exclusive, for its wonderful floral nose and soft flavors, but the leading pick here is the Cabernet Franc.  Dry and with good intensity of flavor, this rather young wine is showing tremendous potential as a sipping superstar at only $14!

LAKE COUNTY: A Growing Wine Country Scene Under Cultivation

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WineCountry Online Newsletter Editor: Carolyn Lewis

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