You’ve probably driven past Cache Creek Vineyards more times than you can count. Whether leaving or just coming into Lake County, it’s hard to miss the giant wine barrel resting just off of Highway 20 on the way to Williams. If you look closely, you’ll see the fountain to the right of the tasting room, sparkling near the overarching oak trees. Further back, an amphitheater sits. And if you look closely enough, you may catch a glimpse of the herd of Tule Elk roaming the property. Sometimes life needs a short detour, and Cache Creek Winery is well worth a side trip on your way to or from the city.
David and Trudy Wakefield started The Bloom in 2018 to showcase the best parts of Lake County and to provide a local outlet for community events, arts, music, and writing.
Entering the courtyard’s just the beginning of the journey when you head in to meet the Two Sisters. A couple Radio Flyer wagons and a bubbling fountain filled with fish first greet you, followed by metal buckets, washbasins, and statues, the appropriate overflow of any good antique store. Then you’ll make your way up the stairs and meet them. Tina and Robin Kingsley stand in the middle of their store, looking at all the things they have collected over the years. They’re surrounded by embroidery, ceramics, galvanized tubs, candles, figurines, games, and various other good finds. We’ve got a little bit of everything,” Robin says, a smile in her words. “A lot of everything!” Tina interjects.
Bob Phillips stands in front of one of his photos, his feet spread slightly wider than shoulder-width, a facemask hiding his bearded face. Under his opened flannel shirt, a ‘D’Art Frog logo shows, half-hidden. “I consider myself a landscape photographer,” he says, thinking for a second. “I’m really an old school photographer.” On the walls around him hang his photographs. Sure, there’s a spectacular photo of Mt. Konocti shaded in the purples and blues of sunset on one wall, but near it, an image filled with holiday revelers hangs. Close-ups of radial airplane engines and painterly photographs of downtown Lakeport fill the walls next to them, showing that Bob’s more than just a landscape photographer. When I mention it, he smiles. “When the gallery was just my work,” he says, “I would have people come in, look at my photos, and ask, ‘How many photographers do you have?’” he laughs.
“It all started when we went to a craft fair,” James begins. “We bought some soap, and I said, ‘We could make soap better than this!’” Tiffany laughs as she remembers the conversation. “But you know, he went home and did it! We’ve been making soaps ever since.” A drying rack sits a few feet behind Tiffany with an array of different colored soaps arcing like a rainbow on it. Shelves line the walls, filled with essential oils. Their converted bus looks and smells like soap-lovers heaven on wheels.
Sebrina Andrus, owner of maker. in Kelseyville, reaches far above her head and pulls hard on the window shades, swinging the blinds high up the large windows of what at one time was Kelseyville’s Farmers’ Savings Bank. Winter light shines through them, illuminating the hand-crafted products of maker.
Reuben and Kassie Koontz moved back to Lake County in 2015 after living in Santa Rosa for years. There, Reuben did high-end autobody work and made great money. But they wanted a different, more rural lifestyle. So Kassie moved back home to Middletown, where her family has lived for four generations. There, she and Reuben created Koontz Mercantile, an eclectic shop filled with all kinds of cool stuff. And ‘cool’ is the right word. The place has an aura of hipness. A surfboard serves as a shelf in the outdoor room, while a bicycle turned into a side table sits underneath rows of aprons filled with different sayings. “Shut up Liver, You’re Fine,” one reads.
We want to thank you for being a part of our vision. It’s you, our readers, who make what we do possible. And we’re succeeding! In our first two years, we’ve shared our vision with over 104 countries and tens of thousands of different people. However, our mission still needs some love to grow. With your support, we can add more columns, write more restaurant reviews, profile more of our best businesses, and showcase the tremendous outdoor opportunities our county has to offer. That’s why we’ve set up an option to support The Bloom financially. It’s a great way to help promote our positive message and further The Bloom’s vision. We’ve set up donations to be simple: starting at $5/month, you can help us move forward. Once you donate, then comes the fun part: watching us grow. The Bloom has lots of plans in the works, and your support will allow them to become a reality. We believe that when we help each other, we will all succeed. Financially supporting The Bloom will not just help us grow; it will also help our local economy, as we are all about encouragine local businesses. We are a community-focused organization, and none of our efforts would be possible without the help of people and businesses like you. Your support is greatly appreciated and will make a difference. Thank you for being a part of our community and our story. TO SUPPORT THE BLOOM, VISIT https://www.lakecountybloom.com/support
It’s an unusually cool summer afternoon in Big Valley. Outside the Finley Country Market, rose bushes and lavender pop out of planters, framing the red, farmhouse-looking store. Several picnic tables, shaded by umbrellas, stretch across the courtyard. Finley Country Market’s been around twenty-five years and serves as a hub for the small community. They’ve got a good barbecue, offering grilled chicken, burgers, or tri-tip sandwiches depending on the day of the week. And they’re popular; it’s not uncommon for the market to receive twenty-five or thirty pre-orders on Fridays for their tri-tip sandwiches. And each Friday, another wonderful thing happens at the market. There, on the counter next to the register, sit Karen Shippley’s gluten-free muffins. Depending on Karen’s mood, you may find blueberry muffins, carrot cake or German chocolate cupcakes, all luscious and completely gluten-free.
“The first time I tasted a Malbec, it was like that movie Ratatouille,” Miguel says. “You know how that one bite took him back to his childhood?” Miguel poses the question. “The first smell of the Malbec took me back to when I was six or seven years old in Michoacán. We had to go up the mountain and plow the furrows for the corn by hand. And after a long, hot day of work, my father would pick the prickly fruit off the cactus. He would pick the spines off the fruit and hand it to me to eat. When I was a child, I was mad at having to do all that hard work, but the reward of the work was the taste of the fruit in my mouth.” He smiles, remembering that moment once more. “And that moment was in that glass of wine. Wine tasting is personal,” he continues. “You won’t have the same feeling or memory that I have when you taste something, but it’s that moment with certain wines, where you are taken back to a certain time or emotion. Then the wine becomes part of who you are. That makes wine special. Winemaking is memories.”
Patches of snow mingle with the remaining patches of light just outside the doors of the Little Red Schoolhouse, known to Cobb locals as “Little Red.” Inside, smiling faces greet us, dressed in various shades of green. Just beyond the registration area, the old schoolhouse is full of tables; flowerpots studded with gnome figurines sit as centerpieces. High school students wander the area, handing out appetizers to mingling patrons. Others carry out the desserts to be auctioned later in the evening. Baskets laden with local wines, tours, cookies, and other trifles line the walls. The silent bidding already is in full swing as people pace between the ceramic snails and Wine Adventure tickets, eager anticipation in their eyes. Above the auction items, a rainbow of shamrocks covers a wall.
Sunlight shines through the large front windows of Fore Family Winery’s tasting room. In back stretches a long wooden bar faced with rounds of manzanita, behind which Jim and Diane Fore pour glasses to their customers. A tan-brown concrete wall stretches the length of the tasting room. On it hang multiple photographs. A flock of pelicans spreads out along the shoreline of Clearlake, trees in bright yellow puffing upwards, Mt. Konocti arching behind them. Grebes, posed in perfect synchronicity, mirror each other in an intricate ritual.