What an incredible way to start the day! Dan and I woke up to the birds churping (quite active by 5am by the way) at the absolutely gorgeous Langtry Estate & Vineyard. We knew it was big just by how far we drove to get to the pool house, but we had no idea exactly how large until we could actually see it.
23,000 acres to be exact. 23,000 acres of rolling hills, farm land, slight mountains, rustic farm houses, breathtaking nature, fragrant flowers, towering trees and poetic birds. I felt like I was in a Disney cartoon. I couldn’t sleep, mostly due to those poetic early riser birds, but I was happy to get out and explore.
I truly felt isolated. All of this only 2 short hours north of San Francisco. I felt like I was in a different time. Fresh dew on the grass, glistening in the sun. The sun low enough that it was still stretching the shadows of the trees, hills and farm houses. Magnificent.
No time for milling about though, we have a tasting appointment with Jose in Langtry’s main tasting room at 9am sharp. And we have a very tight schedule today, so we don’t want to start out late.
We get cleaned up, packed up and head to find the tasting room on this grand estate. We head towards where we came from, making note to turn right where our tour guide said she always misses the turn, and eventually found our way up to the tasting room.
Definitely on purpose, the Langtry tasting room sits atop a hill so you can overlook all 23,000 acres. Wisteria just coming into bloom and hanging over an outdoor picnic area.
Eager to taste the wines and not get too caught up in the beauty outside, we head in to meet Jose. Jose is the tasting room manager there. He was happy to give us a special tasting at 9am before the tasting room opened. (I think normal hours are 11am, so if you head there, plan accordingly. )
Jose had a wonderful tasting scheduled… a side by side tasting of the Guenoc and Langtry labels. I think we tried just about everything they had too. Generally speaking, I liked the Langtry wines better. Here are a few highlights: 2011 Langtry Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 Guenoc Chardonnay, 2007 Langtry Petite Sirah, and the 2007 Langtry Tephra Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sadly we had to say goodbye to Jose and get moving to our next scheduled destination, Vigilance Winery. It’s a short drive to Vigilance. Our tour guide had us starting on the southern tip of Lake County and slowly moving us north around Clear Lake. Vigilance is another show stopper for views. They sit up on a hill as well and overlook Clear Lake and historic Anderson Marsh.
Vigilance doesn’t make a bad bottle of wine, and their customers and visitors tell them this on a regular basis. They consistently produce good wines at a good value. Monica had organized for us to have gourmet box lunches brought in from Chic Le Chef. Super fresh, local farms, organic foods. It was perfect. After tasting, Dan and I sat outside at a picnic table overlooking the lake, drinking a glass of wine.
After lunch we took advantage of their bocce ball court. We had Marni, the tasting room manager join us. I’m happy to boast that I was the big winner. Admittedly Dan was a close second. But Marni, for having the court at her disposal at all times, really needs to work on her game.
Tasting suggestions: 2009 Cimarron, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Petite Sirah and the 2010 Dalliance. Also try wines from their sister winery, Shannon Ridge, which recently was named to the Hot California Wineries List.
We said our goodbyes and had to hit the next stop on the itinerary, Lake County’s annual Heron Festival. We rode on a pontoon boat through historic Anderson Marsh Sanctuary. I’m not much of a bird watcher. I though this was going to be more wine tasting and hanging out on the lake.
We left the Heron Festival in lieu of more wine tasting. This time at the downtown Kelseyville tasting room of Rosa D’ Oro Winery. Livia, the winemakers daughter, greeted us and started pouring wines. These boutique tasting rooms are a great way to experience multiple wineries is by visiting one of the many in-town, boutique tasting rooms.
Here you can either dine indoors, on the heated veranda, or in the garden under the sycamore trees. We elected to dine outdoors in the garden. The original Blue Wing opened in the 1880s and was extremely popular until prohibition. The current saloon was rebuilt and designed with the original in mind. Enjoy an array of daily specials, lunch, dinner and brunch menus, along with a selection of local wines and microbrews.
After dinner we were heading to our final destination of the evening, Ceago Vinegarden. We were staying at one of their casitas for the evening and hanging out with the Fetzer family that evening/morning/afternoon.
Ceago is the product of a lifelong dream by Jim Fetzer, former president of Fetzer Vineyards. He wanted to create a beautiful biodynamic farm and winery, surrounded by natural beauty, and he definitely accomplished this. They make lovely, craft, small-lot wines from their estate-grown grapes. In addition to grapes, they also grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, kiwis, olives, walnuts, figs and lavender. They actually have their annual Lavender Festival coming up just after the Fourth of July.
Ceago’s long-term vision is to be a real destination location for tourists, locals and even folks who want Ceago to play a larger part in their lives. The 132 acre estate has big plans for creating a high-end wine experience, complete with hotel, casitas, villas, restaurant and spa. For now, you can enjoy this magnificent property by renting one of their lovely casitas. Stay for the weekend, grab a chair and a bottle of wine, and chat with Jim about his past, present and future. He and the Ceago family are gracious and willing to share their dreams and their passion for wine and Lake County.
Dan and I, when we got to Ceago, realized that we didn’t have the gate key and of course, no one answered their phone. So the monkey man that Dan is, he easily scaled the wall and found someone to let us in.
We were shown to our casita, given a bottle of wine and given full access to the property to walk around at will.
So we did. We headed down to the pier that overlooks Clear Lake and took in the huge super moon. The moon looked way more impressive in person than in this silly camera phone photo. After taking in the night air and the super moon, we hit the sack, exhausted from a long day, but looking forward to tomorrow. And looking forward to actually seeing the Ceago property by more than super moonlight.