Wildflowers aren’t the only things dotting the emerald-green rolling hills of Clear Lake. Wineries have been popping up all over the mountain ridgelines and sun-soaked valleys of the Clear Lake Appellation—home to 8,718 acres of planted vineyards and dozens of tasting rooms offering world-class wines at a fraction of the price of some neighboring areas (with none of the tour busses or bachelorette parties!). This is a hidden gem for wine lovers, and probably won’t stay a secret for long. Start your tour-de-vino in the little town of Kelseyville, tucked sleepily within the rolling hills south of Clear Lake. Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill has a huge selection of organic wines, from sauvignon blanc to a 15-year-old tawny port. When you’re ready to venture into the countryside, make a short drive out of town to visit Laujor Estate Winery and neighboring Boatique Winery.
Laujor offers outstanding Lake County wines complemented by jaw-dropping views of Mount Konocti and the surrounding valley from the back patio. Be sure to try their sauvignon blanc–musqué blend. Just next door is Boatique Winery. Taste through a selection of big reds rivaling the cabs of Napa, take a tour of the owners’ huge collection of rare and antique luxury boats from the fifties and sixties, and grab a handful of tulips (they’re grown for guests) from the garden before you leave.
BEER HERE: Kelsey Creek Brewing Company on Main Street in Kelseyville is not to be missed by those who fancy fantastic microbrews. Master brewer and owner Ron Chips serves everything from Irish reds to IPAs to bourbon-barrel stouts, bittered with local hops and brewed out back, all in a dog-friendly, laid-back saloon setting complete with peanut shells on the floor.
STAY: For cozy lodgings with some adorable rustic charm, stay at the guesthouse at Finch Gardens.