If you haven’t been wine tasting in the Lake County region recently, you can grab your chance at the 2015 Lake County Wine Adventure on May 15-17. You (and your friends) can enjoy wine, food, music and more between 11 am and 5 pm over 2 days that weekend at 26 wineries surrounding Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California. The Adventure weekend is a great way to discover how well they make wines in this region of high elevations, rolling hillsides and valley floors next to a majestic (but happily dormant) volcano (Mt. Konocti).
One of Lake County’s appeals is that you can find a wide spectrum of delicious wines in the area. The wines made from grapes grown here include more common varietals (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) and less frequently found ones (Aglianico, Barbera, Charbono, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Tempranillo) as well as only-in-Lake-County offerings (Sparkling Pear Wine, proprietary blends).
The Lake County Wine Adventure has typically been held in late July, but the springtime rescheduling this year should provide a less intensely sunny experience. The Saturday and Sunday Passport Weekend is an optimal way to visit over two dozen wineries in a relaxed, rural and breathtaking environment only two hours by car from either the San Francisco Bay Area or the Sacramento Valley. For 2015, event organizers have also created a special Friday night kickoff event.
Some of the wineries we are eager to taste samples (and do some buying) from include Brassfield Estate Winery, Fore Family Vineyards, Fults Family Vineyards, Gregory Graham Wines, Langtry Estate & Vineyard, Moore Family Winery, Rosa d’Oro Vineyards, Six Sigma Ranch & Winery, Vigilance Winery & Vineyards and Wildhurst Vineyards. To see the complete list of participating wineries please go here.
In addition to offering tastes of their wines, the wineries will also offer attendees a variety of food and entertainment options over the Passport Weekend. We don’t know what’s going to be on the menu this time but some of our favorite tastes from last year’s Adventure were Dilly Beans, Red Pepper Crostini, Carnitas Tacos, Lamb Pita with Pistachio Mint Pesto, and a Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions. We also found plenty of fruit, nuts, cheeses and Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Lake County Wine Adventure Passport Weekend tickets are only $45 for two days of fun (or $35 for Sunday-only) if you purchase them online by May 14. When you do, you’ll have a choice of wineries located all around the lake to check in at (Clearlake Oaks, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Lower Lake, Middletown and Upper Lake). If you’re not already familiar with the area, then this map may help you get your bearings.
Lake County wineries strongly believe in responsible celebrations so they also offer complimentary Designated Driver Tickets online to accompany paid ticketholders (DDs are invited to enjoy non-alcoholic drinks, food and entertainment at the wineries). You can also purchase tickets during the event weekend, but ticket prices will be $5 more at the door so maybe you should just go here now.
A wonderful way you could start the weekend would be to attend an evening of wine, delicious appetizers and live music at the Castle Speakeasy celebration (password = “wine”) from 6 pm to 9 pm on Friday May 15 at Marymount Castle (3700 Country Club Drive, Lucerne). Perched high on a hill, the structure was built in 1928 and was originally known as the Lucerne Hotel. Now, it’s a facility with 50,000 square feet on 7 acres which serves as the site of Marymount California University Lakeside during the day.
Tickets for the Lake County Wine Adventure Castle Speakeasy event are limited (to 250). For $55 per person, attendees can sip Lake County wines, feast on delicious appetizers, listen and dance to the music of the BMP Swingtet, and savor the views from and architecture of this historic building (and then go home with a keepsake wine glass). Period-era dress on Friday night is encouraged to make it a very special evening for all.
Or, wine lovers can go all out and purchase a Combo Ticket for $100, which provides entry to the Castle Speakeasy on Friday evening and both days of the Passport Weekend on Saturday and Sunday. These two ticket options are only available online until May 10 or until they sell out, whichever comes first. So, when you are ready to buy, please go here.
If you need a place to stay that weekend, here are just some of the LCWA Diamond Hospitality Members who may still have room availability: Clear Lake Cottages & Marina, Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast Resort, Lakeport English Inn, The Lodge at Blue Lakes, Skylark Shores Resort, Tallman Hotel and Twin Pine Casino & Hotel.
The Lake County Wine Adventure is hosted by the Lake County Winery Association. Founded in 2007, the Association is dedicated to increasing awareness of the quality wines produced here, preserving the beauty of the area, and attracting tourism to this ruggedly bucolic wine region. We have really enjoyed prior Wine Adventures and can’t wait for this year’s event.