If you haven’t been to Lake County recently, grab your chance with the 2016 Lake County Wine Adventure between May 20-22. You (and your friends) can enjoy wine, food, music and more at a Friday night Casino Royale party and/or during the 2-day Passport Weekend event featuring over two dozen wineries surrounding Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California. The Wine Adventure weekend is a great way to discover how well they make wines in this region of high elevations and rolling hillsides next to a majestic (but happily dormant) volcano (Mt. Konocti).
Now in its 12th year, the Lake County Wine Adventure offers an optimal way to explore the County’s wineries in a relaxed, rural and breathtaking environment only two hours by car from either the Bay Area or the Sacramento Valley. The broad range of delicious wines here starts with wonderful Sauvignon Blancs and we especially encourage you to try ones from Langtry Estate & Vineyard, Six Sigma Winery, Vigilance Winery & Vineyards, and Wildhurst Vineyards. Some of our other favorite Lake County white wines have been Moscato from Brassfield Estate Winery, a Grenache Blanc from Fore Family Vineyards, Riesling from Gregory Graham Wines and Pinot Grigio from Robledo Family Winery.
Among red wines, we have renjoyed a spectrum of varietals from Chacewater Winery (Merlot, Petite Sirah), Fore Family Vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon), Gregory Graham Wines (Grenache), Moore Family Winery (Charbono, Malbec, Zinfandel), Robledo Family Winery (Tempranillo) and Rosa d’Oro Vineyards (Aglianico, Barbera, Refosco). We also strongly suggest you seek out local proprietary blends such as Rosa d’Oro’s Trigrammaton (Carménère, Tinta Roriz/Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc) and Vigilance’s Cimarron (red blend typically including Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon).
A wonderful way to kick off this weekend would be to “Bond” with friends and local wineries at the Casino Royale event featuring premium wine, delicious appetizers and live entertainment from The Special Guests at the Twin Pine Casino and Hotel event center (22223 South Highway 29, Middletown) from 6 pm to 9 pm on May 20. Attendees will receive a commemorative wine glass, special keepsake photo, free parking for the event and more. Tickets are limited but $65 per person will get you into this festive Friday night party so grab your best evening clothes and prepare to be suave and debonair.
On May 21 and 22, between 11 am and 5 pm, 28 locations throughout the County invite you to visit them during Passport Weekend. Participating wineries will welcome you with award-winning wines, food paired to bring out the unique flavors of the wine, music and more. Two-day passports are $55 per person in advance, or $65 at the door. Sunday-only passports are $40 in advance or $45 at the door. You can go here to purchase tickets and/or see which wineries around the lake (Kelseyville, Lakeport, Lower Lake, Middletown and Upper Lake) can serve as your check-in point and/or source of tickets that weekend.
We don’t know what’s going to be on the menu this year but some of our favorite tastes from prior adventures (and where we had them) were:
- Fresh Fruit with Balsamic, Honey and Black Pepper (Langtry Estate and Vineyard)
- Moroccan Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce (Rosa d’Oro Vineyards)
- Chicken Empanadas (Robledo Family Winery)
- Carnitas Tacos (Chacewater Winery)
- Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions (Gregory Graham Wines)
- Lamb Pita with Pistachio Mint Pesto and Citrus Yogurt Drizzle (Vigilance Winery & Vineyards)
If you’re not already familiar with the area, then this map may help you get your bearings. As an added appeal for the Passport Weekend, please know that Lake County wineries strongly believe in responsible celebrations so they also offer complimentary Designated Driver Tickets (online, in advance) so DD friends accompany paid ticketholders and enjoy non-alcoholic drinks, food and entertainment on Saturday and Sunday.
Looking for a little savings? If you and a friend want to attend the 2-day Passport Weekend, the promotional code “SaveTen” will get you a $10 discount off the purchase of two tickets (before April 30). Or, if all three days’ of activities sound appealing, you can go all out and purchase a Combo Ticket for $120 which provides entry to the Casino Royale on Friday evening as well as both days of the Passport Weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Better yet, Combo Tickets are actually available for $110 if you move quickly (by April 28) so when you are ready to buy, please go here (or have your personal Miss Moneypenny handle it).
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 strongly encourage you to attend the Lake County Wine Adventure, not only to have a wonderful time but to support the residents and businesses of Lake County. As you may recall, last September’s Valley Fire burned over 76,000 acres tragically resulting in 4 deaths and the destruction of 1955 structures (including 1281 homes). If you are interested in providing additional support, #LakeCountyRising is a collaborative fundraising effort of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Winery Association and Lake County Wine Alliance supporting long-term rebuilding in response to the Valley Fire. The organization’s Steering Committee and its supporters have raised almost $1 million so far. For more information and/or to make your own donation, please go here.