It’s early Saturday night in Lake County, and there’s more going on than one person can do in a single evening. The solution? Choose a general area within the county; if you plan it well, you can party all night long. It goes without saying that the best parties start with a designated driver. Once you figure that out, let the fun begin!
The sun is still high as the evening begins on Spruce Grove Road, and the adventure has only just begun. The gravel road winds steadily upward, following a ridge line. Trees surround both sides, casting long dark shadows. A little further, it turns again, and a vineyard stretches to the very end of the hillside, stretching as far as the eye can see. A few more turns and the road reaches the top of the mountain, revealing one of the best views in Lake County. Welcome to Wild Diamond Vineyards, venue for tonight’s Solstice Dinner, cooked by Tammy Lipps at Ripe Choice Catering.
We can see the summit of the Sierras in the distance on the left. Straight ahead remains Hidden Valley, Lake Berryessa and Mount St. Helena. To the right, Cobb Mountain, Boggs Mountain, and Mt. Konocti fill the horizon. A shipping container converted into a wine bar/viewing station barely delays the expanse of the mountains. A covered patio surrounds it, with plenty of seating available to take in all the views.
The evening begins with a glass of wine and a mouthful of appetizers doing the rounds. The gazebo provides the perfect space to sit down and enjoy a bite to eat. Next to the wine bar, Austin and Owens set the mood, their guitars artfully playing neo-flamenco versions of classic songs. Soon, dinner is served as a buffet. Tammy shows off her true culinary art with her perfectly seasoned roast pork – each tender, juicy bite pairs perfectly with Wild Diamond’s Merlot.
The wind picks up a little, but it’s not a problem in the shelter of the tent. Austin and Owens fill in the gaps between conversions around the table before dessert is served. Nothing says summer like chocolate covered strawberries masterfully paired with a Petite Sirah. The night is still young at Wild Diamond Vineyards, but more stops need to be made.
Just a short drive away, and the party is in full swing at Fults Family Vineyard. The big barn doors are open and the Lake County Diamonds are in their element. The dance floor skips, leaving many empty tables. After a quick stop for some quality artisan baking from Mother Lovin’ From the Oven and a glass of wine served by owner Kendall Fults, it’s time to join in the fun. The Lake County Diamonds launch into another irresistibly danceable song, and the floor fills more. The golden hues of daylight help bring the evening to a close in Fults, and the band reluctantly leaves the stage. But luckily, it’s not the end of the evening.
Fifteen minutes later, at Middletown Days, the concert of local country band Breaker One-9 is just beginning. Once there, the black night sky settles in for the rest of the evening. A group of picnic tables surrounds the vast concrete slab serving as a dance floor. It seems like all the music lovers and families in Middletown are there. The beer line stretches thirty feet and empty Coors Light cans fill the recycling bins. Everyone starts dancing as lead singer Tony Zagajowski starts singing the “Watermelon Crawl,” then continues to pour out onto the dance floor as the band launches into their next track; there’s barely time to cheer between songs before everyone dances again.
It’s time to party. The evening lasts as long as your legs and your voice hold out; the band plays until 1am. At some point you have to call it a night. But here comes next weekend!