Discovering Northern California
Lake County California

Lake County California Embraces Four Seasons

Did you know Lake County California has four seasons?

I know we usually think of endless beaches and never-ending sunshine when we think of the Golden State of California, but there are many places in California that do, in truth, experience the four seasons, and Lake County is one of them! Which is why life here revolves around the seasons.

  • Spring wildflowers bloom and buds sprout on grapevine and pear tree.
  • Summer is dry and warm, inviting water sprites to lakes and streams.
  • Fall offers perfect harvest celebrations.
  • Mild wet Winters bring a sprinkling of snow to the mountaintops.

Lakeport is the county seat of Lake County, which was formed in 1861 from parts of Napa and Mendocino Counties. Long known as a farming community, it has also always been a tourist haven.

Lake County California's Agricultural History

Because it's always been a farming community, life in Lake County flows with the seasons - and because of it's relative isolation, probably even more so than in other farming communities!

It all started in the 1850s when the earliest European settlers planted the first Lake County vineyards...

The vineyards flourished in Lake's
Mediterranean micro-climates until Lake County wines had gained an international fine wine reputation by the 1870s and 1880s.

Of course, it didn't hurt that famously flamboyant British actress, Lillie Langtry bought into the area and began producing wines!

That was in the Guenoc Valley, and Lillie's place eventually became Guenoc Estate Vineyards & Winery (now Langtry Estate & Vineyards).

But then, along came Prohibition in the 1920s and '30s, which decimated the burgeoning Lake County wine industry. Some vineyards were torn out and replaced with walnut, pear, and other fruit trees. Other vineyards were abandoned by those who didn't have the resources or the heart to start over.

Lake County became the land of orchards, and was especially well-known for its pears. So much so that people come from all around to attend the Lake County Fair at the Lake County Fairgrounds in August, and the Kelseyville Pear Festival along Kelseyville's Main Street every September around harvest time!

Lake County California's Tourism History

In the 1870s and '80s, the Thing-To-Do for the Ladies-Who-Lunch Bunch and their families was to ferry four hours by boat across the San Francisco Bay to Vallejo, hop on a train to Callistoga, travel by stagecoach over Mount St Helena to Middletown, then up over Cobb Mountain or on to Lower Lake, and take a steamer ferry ride across Clear Lake - all of this with the goal in mind of spending two or three months at one of the lavish resorts that were built around the area's hot springs.

Lake County California was THE resort destination for wealthy travelers from San Francisco and all over the world! They might travel for days or even weeks to "take the waters" for a cure, indulge in lavish parties, and enjoy the pampering that catered to their every whim at the hotels and resorts that were built around the hot springs.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 caused many of the springs to dry up or go underground, leaving the resorts bereft of part of their charm. Then fires destroyed most of the resorts and hotels over the next several years and - as the tourism dried up - what little remained of this opulence was torn down and more or less forgotten.

The final entity to bear the title "resort" in Lake County was the Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa, which for 70 years or so provided vacation housing, recreational activities, spa and beauty treatments, and concert venues to visitors and residents alike. Alas - that too finally closed altogether in 2009

Insider secret: There have been rumors and reports lately that a resort real estate group out of San Francisco is looking into the purchase, renovation, and reopening of the Konocti property, perhaps as a casino. We won't be vacationing there soon, though - if the plans go through, it'll most like be a four to seven year project.

Lake County California's Attractions Today

Photo Courtesy of Eleven Roses RanchPhoto Courtesy of Eleven Roses Ranch

What brings people to Lake County today? The same elements that brought people in the past - beautiful, pristine natural elements and scenery, Clear Lake - the largest natural freshwater lake in California (Lake Tahoe is larger, but half of it resides in Nevada), quiet and peaceful little villages with friendly people, and a culture that centers around the Four Seasons.

Visit during the Spring to enjoy the blossoming wildflowers, the beginnings of the planting season, and the re-awakening of outdoor activities.

Summer offers your choice - lazy days of vacationing along uncrowded beaches around the lake, or busy days of activities for every taste. Outdoor adventures abound, with water sports such as boating, kayaking, and fishing at the top of the list. But you'll also discover ample opportunities for hiking, birding, backpacking, wildlife and wildflower viewing!

Come in the Fall for harvest times - festivals and roadside stands selling fresh produce, changing colors on the trees and vines, the flavors of a crisp apple, or succulent pear just picked from the tree.

Spend the Winter holidays in Lake County to experience the true meaning of fellowship and community as folks come together to practice long-standing customs and traditions; main streets bustling with shoppers; crafts faires and light parades lining the streets.

And once again, Lake County California Wines are holding their own and gaining a name for themselves. Visit the vineyards and wineries to rediscover what Lake County residents have known all along!

We'll be sharing more with you about Lake county in the coming weeks:

  • Lake County Attractions
    Indoor, Outdoor, and In Between!
  • Lake County Beaches
    Over 100 miles of shoreline!
  • Lake County Communities
    Each with its own personality!

  • Lake County Parks and Preserves
    It's a nature-lover's Paradise!
  • Lake County Vineyards & Wineries
    Discover anew - Lake County wines!

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