The day’s heat still wavers in the air, hiding behind tent flaps and resting in the still evening. The sun still has an hour to hang around before finally disappearing behind the mountains, and it’s gleefully watching over the hundreds of people milling around The Mercantile in Kelseyville. Here you’ll find winery owners and administrative assistants, school principals and county workers, exterminators and nurses, congressmen and construction workers. This cross-section of folk shows up every year for the same reason, and it’s not to swelter in the early evening heat. They’re all here for the Wine Auction, one of Lake County’s most important charitable events.
Exotics by the Guy is a locally owned and operated custom store that offers a wide variety of the most sought-after foreign and rare snacks, drinks, cookies, and candy. They also offer Naruto cards, Pokemon Cards, Love Stickers, Croc Charms, Funko Pop figures and so much more. Exotics by the Guy has been in business for eight years with five-star reviews.
Wanna have it all? Well, you can. Nestled in the heart of Lake County’s wine country rests a picturesque vineyard, orchard, and working farm, complete with a pot-bellied pig, tortoise, and chef Tammy Lipps. It’s a unique place where it’s possible to check in and never leave. Here’s how you do it.
The alchemy of photosynthesis worked its magic on grasses, trees and wildflowers across the landscape of Lake County after the rains finally arrived. Kelly green tempera paint colors outline the forest, while lush tree trunks are alive with mosses. At Rodman Preserve you can take a Saturday walk when the Lake County Land Trust (LCLT) opens its gates to the Preserve’s hundreds of acres. Rodman Preserve and Nature Center is located at 6350 Westlake Road in Upper Lake. We were welcomed at the property’s entrance by the breathtaking view of one of the resident ospreys as it flew above us with its prey secured in its talons! Rodman Preserve was acquired in order to safeguard the land’s natural habitat and preserve the existing wildlife area with its prolific nesting, feeding and breeding environs.
Have you ever experienced something so wonderful that you struggle to find the words to describe it? That’s me at The Bloom’s Five-Year Anniversary party at Ripe Choice Farm and Catering. I’d been in contact with Tammy Lipps, owner of Ripe Choice, for several weeks leading up to the event. I knew I wanted it to be something unique and memorable. Although several of our restaurants promise all those things, I knew I was looking for something a little more intimate, quiet, and off the beaten path.
Welcome to the Ripe Choice Farm: The early evening glow reluctantly gives way to the onshore breeze that promises cooler temperatures. But for now, a glass of sparkling wine, under twinkling lights and the small chatter amongst friends, makes for a delightful distraction. The barn’s high ceiling helps absorb the day’s warmth amongst its exposed wood.
The setting seems right, country, rustic, and yet elegant. Locally grown flowers adorn the center of the tables. Linen napkins and a formal place setting all promise tonight is not an ordinary Sunday evening.
Well, well, well, The Bloom is turning five! Can you believe it? I feel like a proud parent bragging about their kid. And perhaps that’s appropriate when considering how The Bloom became The Bloom.
Five years ago, the editor of The Middletown Mercury announced his retirement. It was a huge bummer for us readers because it was one of the only sources of good news about Lake County.
So my husband and I had the crazy idea of taking over the Mercury, you know, as a hobby. Well, six weeks later, we became proud owners of a local newspaper. But, for a few legal reasons, we couldn’t keep the name or the subscription list, so we were on our own.
Have you ever heard of CLERC? CLERC stands for Clear Lake Environmental Research Center. CLERC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization now located in Lakeport in the historic Carnegie Library building at Library Park. The threads of CLERC’s tapestry are far-reaching and address the needs of our unique county through their varied projects and programs. The purpose of CLERC, as mentioned on their interesting website is ” To bring science, education, government, tribal and business groups together to resolve issues involving Clear Lake, to study the unique properties of Clear Lake and the surrounding area and, to coordinate programs and projects that focus on solutions to environmental and economic problems locally and worldwide.”
Rarely have I had a meal so thoughtfully prepared and served. The Blue Wing serves consistently good food, so when I learned that they had just become Blue Zones approved in Lake County, I couldn’t resist attending their celebratory dinner; I have already learned that anything Chef Pablo Aguilar does will be nothing short of breathtaking.
The late August evening brings its predictable slow, leisurely pace when the days are still long, and dining under the late sun’s rays is almost a requirement for any dinner in Lake County. Welcome to the Blue Wing’s courtyard.
Lake County’s home to amazing scenery, kind people, and a host of small businesses. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are. So take a weekend afternoon to get out and discover something new. We listed eight great businesses here, but don’t worry. Surrounding these wonderful places are dozens more, all waiting for you to discover them.
Just when one thinks they know all the hidden gems in Lake County, Lake County never ceases to prove one wrong.
The sun stands high in the firmament all summer long. Its rays bring radiant, glowing life to all it touches. All things green reach and lean toward its sustenance, and we gleam from their nourishing fruit while they tantalize our eyes with their glory. Gold embers of the sun’s hues frame and mold the weaving greens and bright floral colors of vines, branches, trees, and flowers, of Finch Garden. Helen greets my husband and me when we park in front of her home.
Sister’s CoffeeHouse is a locally owned and operated custom coffee shop specializing in a variety of hot and cold drinks and mouth-watering grab-go breakfast and lunch options. They take pride in fresh ingredients and stress putting love in every custom order. Their delicious drinks range from Blue Raspberry Shakes to Caramel Frappes with sugar-free and Keto options available. How about a Lavender White Mocha with Blackberry drizzle?
It is an unmatched sound that most of us have heard many times before. Its reverberating music fills the ear and body with notes high so high they prick the ears and so low they shake the ground. Collectively, its delicious music brings a full-body encounter. Nothing quite compares to an organ’s music, but absolutely nothing compares to listening to it in a cathedral. Welcome to the monthly organ recital at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
The glistening waters of ancient Clear Lake beckoned one chilly, late spring morning as some friends and I boarded the Eyes of the Wild pontoon boat piloted by Faith Rigolosi for a lake tour. Although the shores were already growing a tangle of weeds not often seen this early in the season, Faith was able to tour the lake with ease. This popular destination lake is around seventy square miles, and is the largest lake within California’s borders. More importantly, Clear Lake is scientifically proven to be one of, if not the oldest lake in North America, at about a half-million years in age. Archaeologists have determined that Indigenous people have lived nearby for around 14,000 years. Clear Lake drapes itself across the landscape in a diagonal formation, with its two arms at the narrows pointing southeast. Sacred and stately Mount Konocti, our dormant volcano rises across the narrows at over 4,000 feet. Both the lake and the volcano hold rich secrets and mythologies, along with their distinctive histories and exquisite beauty.
I am happy to present to you our thirteenth local business spotlighted in the Pay it Forward feature – Grillagan’s Island. Grillagan’s Island is a locally owned and operated custom fast-serve restaurant specializing in a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, homemade soups, and salads with gluten-free and vegan options available.
Letterboxing began in England in 1854 when a man called William Crossing created a publication called Guide to Dartmoor. Then, he placed cards in a bottle on a trail along the moors and when hikers found the bottle, they added their own postcards for the next person to find and then mail at the post office. Now there are formal Letterboxing clubs and Geocaching clubs all over the world. Many have themes such as poetry, stamp collecting, mysteries, etc.
Let’s face it; Lake County is truly the place you go to get away from the real world. There are few better ways to leave the city, relax, and enjoy some incredible wine. Let me take you on an adventure.
It all starts on Spruce Grove Road–meander through rural Lake County before turning on the gravel driveway that winds upward towards Wild Diamond Vineyards. Traverse an oak grove, winding higher and higher in elevation as the oaks slowly turn to pine trees. That’s when you know you’re almost there. At the tasting room–or more accurately, mountain top–the world turns truly silent and still. A strong breeze greets you first as you step out of your car, a reminder that the world is far, far below.
Our recent Lake County business featured was Jon Martin & Nick Hough, owners of Stitched Designs LLC, who chose to Pay it Forward to Baylee Grove, owner of Rock N’ Rolled Ice Cream.
Some of my fondest memories of my childhood include multiple visits to the beautiful Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. The serene gardens are perfectly manicured, with not a plant in less than spectacular form. The garden is a discovery of delights; it seems to never end on its meandering trails and bridges. If you’ve been before, then you know. Of course, moving to Lake County was a dream come true for us. It’s filled with natural beauty, rugged landscapes, oak groves, far-reaching vineyards, and a one-of-a-kind life-giving lake.
But nothing quite compares to a professional garden, right? Well, thankfully, we have a spectacular and unique offering in Lake County. Bell Haven Flower Farms, resting on the shores of Soda Bay, is a breathtakingly beautiful place, open for private events and, on occasion, to the public. However, if you aren’t able to visit, Bell Haven also has a florist shop in downtown Kelseyville, where once you step through the doors, you’ll discover a cornucopia of flowers.
Have you seen them? The swan-like black and white water birds that are known to dance across the waters of Clear Lake, the grebes. Glorious to view at any time of the year, they are most interesting to watch in springtime when they perform a courting dance while rushing or running across the water!
Stitched Designs LLC is a locally owned and operated custom apparel, engraving, embroidery, logo design establishment that caters to and supports our local community – everything from headwear and t-shirts to signs for special events. They are located in Middletown and have achieved a high positive rating from their customers.
Does summertime mean game time to you? Maybe you enjoy some laid-back games like horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet, or Frisbee. Games are deeply rooted in history. In times past, people of all ages were game players too. Since all work and no play is not fun, the Indigenous people living in what is now Lake County put aside work for play as well.
Dale Grable, the owner of Thai American Market, always has a new idea. Since opening his unique Asian store in Nice several years ago, he’s committed to taking the stress out of cooking Asian food. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked into an Asian food store, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be intimidating. None of the labels are in English, it’s difficult to tell the difference between five varieties of fish sauce, and, seriously, is that dried jellyfish?
Fortunately for Lake County, Thai American Market is nothing like that. Dale selects the best of each item, removing the confusion. He grinds and makes his own spices and seasonings. And, if you’ve never cooked Asian before, he’s made it simple by creating meal kits that demystify your favorite foods.
I am happy to present to you our tenth local business spotlighted in the Pay it Forward feature – Barbecue By Biasotti. Barbecue By Biasotti is a locally owned and operated barbecue establishment that caters to and supports our local community – they will soon be opening a restaurant in Middletown! Barbecue By Biasotti (BBB) earned the Best BBQ & Catering award in the Best of Lake and Mendocino contest.
Not too long ago, I received an email from Lynne Butcher telling me there are several new businesses that have recently opened in Upper Lake. Lynne would know. Lynne and Bernie Butcher are the proud owners of the recently restored historic Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing, which hosts live music Friday through Monday in the courtyard year around. Their businesses are already two great reasons to visit Upper Lake, and I couldn’t wait to see more, so I eagerly set up a day trip to see for myself.