Just north of Napa, Calistoga, and all the other Bay Area tourist trappings is Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California and one of the oldest lakes on the North American continent (about 480,000 years old). At its lowest elevation, it is still 1400 feet, bringing the vineyards in its four surrounding AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) closer to the sun and away from the fog. On your way, you pass beautiful sun kissed mountains and plentiful orchards that lead to a placid smooth lake. The people that populate this land are equally rural and authentic, easy to approach and proud to show newcomers around or help with suggestions.
Because they are not the corporate junkies you find in other more populated wine regions that charge too much for wine, you may have trouble finding and navigating Lake County wineries. Believe it or not, some wineries here are so old school they don’t have websites. Others have websites that do not even contain their tasting room location or hours. And some don’t have tasting rooms at all yet. But those might have the small hand-crafted wines you seek if you can look beyond the many unpaved roads, uninspired buildings, and
Before checking your smarty pants phone for where to taste, check out my upcoming blog postings. It will not only cover these idiosyncrasies, it will include tasting notes so you can save time and skip right to the wines that fit your palate or style. Besides, your phone may not even get coverage here, forcing you to embrace the old school pathfinder in you and be free of electronic devices for a while.