Without a bit of research, I don’t know that I could say which came first: wine or art? I’m sure it’s art. But it seems to me, as far back as we look, both seem to be intertwined in humanity as long as we have been human. And what’s not to love about both? They bring great joy and an ever-changing and evolving perspective. That’s why when I learned Wine in the Willows was recently repurchased, I breathed a great sigh of relief, knowing that wine and art would not lose another supreme location.
A gentle breeze laps waves on the shores of Library Park in Lakeport. Clear Lake is swelling with pride–full to almost overflowing with life-giving abundance. It promises to continue to sustain the balance and harmony of nature and all who depend on its existence. In a few more weeks, as the season warms, there will be the roar of engines and laughter of every kind under the reach of Mt. Konocti, where more unforgettable memories will be in the making.
On shore, under the overarching tree branches, families will gather for picnics, concerts in the park, and recreation. But for now, everything is quiet as a cool breeze gently suggests retreating to the warmth and comfort of all things good and beautiful within Wine in the Willows.
Inside the open space are two chairs set apart under bright windows facing the street, inviting quiet conversation, and every room is a temporary home for today’s featured art from Anna Sabalone. Each wall holds paintings of flowers in their most vibrant colors and landscapes. Each room and hallway is an art lover’s adventure of scope and beauty. But first, wine. Cinamon Vann and her partner Scott Donohoe stand behind the large wine bar where a patron sits on a stool waiting for a pour.
“Hi, Cinamon,” I introduce myself.
“You must be Trudy.” She warmly extends her hand.
“Finally, we meet!” I laugh. Cinamon and I have been chit-chatting via email for the past several months.
“I’m so glad you are here and that Wine In The Willows’ doors are still open for tasting so many of Lake County’s great wines.” It’s true. For any wine enthusiast, this just might be your best one-stop for tasing over fifteen local Lake Counties’ finest wines, microbrews, and olive oil. Having grown up in Lake County herself, it seems fitting that Cinamon would be a business owner in the heart of Lakeport.
“I learned to read in that library, and I played in this park” Cinamon gestures toward Lakport’s first Library, the namesake of Library Park. “I left for a while, but I came back when covid hit, and I’m glad I did,” her brown eyes smile in affirmation. We chat for several minutes before I leave her to welcome more guests. And besides, I still need to view all the art.
In the adjacent room, Anna sits talking with friends and colleagues from Upper Lake High School. The chatter is warm and inviting for the onlooker when Anna shakes my hand,
“I’ve heard so many good things about you,” I smile. And before I know it, we are sitting and chatting in the two chairs in the front room as if we have known each other forever.
“My mother says I started art when I was two,” she says enthusiastically. “And I began perspective art when I was five,” she continues. Her long, flowing brown hair, parted in the middle, gently cascades down down her shoulders and front, framing her rosy face and brightest of smiles.
“It seems you were born an artist,” I laugh.
“Yeah! But my mom was also an art teacher, so I had the opportunity to do what I wanted because I had access to her supplies” Without missing a breath, she continues. “I debated if I wanted to do art as a career, I worried that I would lose my passion as an artist, but as an educator, I realized I can do it all, and there’s no compromise,” she explains.
Her joy is exuberant and more than contagious as we talk more. And there’s more than one reason to celebrate her decision to do both, as I learned Anna is also 2023’s teacher of the year at Upper Lake High School. It’s obvious that this is not an ordinary art show today.
Then I realize how privileged I am not only to share in the beauty of her art but in celebrating her other passion, teaching. It’s easy to talk to Anna and not so easy to say goodbye to her brighter-than-life spirit and passion for living and being Anna Sabalone.
Eventually, I do say goodbye, allowing her to chat with other guests, but not before buying a piece of art and a personal favorite bottle of Cab from one of our local wineries.
If you miss one of many Wine in the Willows art receptions, be sure to stop by anyway to enjoy their seasonal charcuterie tray that feeds up to six, and if that isn’t tempting enough, you can also choose one of their varieties of flatbread pizzas. Or better yet, join their flight club and enjoy a complimentary charcuterie board every month and never miss out on what’s coming next. And there’s always something going on. Whether it’s trivia night, art, or live music, there are more than enough reasons to visit Wine in the Willows regularly. The most difficult decision of my time was choosing what to drink and what fine piece of art to take home. Ahhh, such is life; cheers!
125 Park St, Lakeport, CA 95453
Hours: 2-8 Wednesday through Sunday