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If you go: Lake County, California

  • Story Highlights
  • Lake County has a burgeoning wine scene
  • CeÓgo Del Lago Winery is accessible by boat
  • The area is still a haven for water recreation and summertime fun
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(Sunset) -- With new wineries, restaurants, and places to stay, Lake County (north of Napa) looks better than ever.

Where to eat and sleep

Blue Wing Saloon Great food adjoining the Tallman Hotel. INFO: $$; 9550 Main St., Upper Lake; 707/275-2233.

The Bungalow The Arts and Crafts-style B&B offers an elaborate breakfast, use of a kayak and rowboat, and an outdoor living room right on the lake. INFO: 3 rooms from $125; 707/998-0399.

Saw Shop Gallery Bistro The art-filled restaurant serves some of the county's best food. INFO: $$$; closed Sun-Mon; 3825 Main St., Kelseyville; 707/278-0129.

Tallman Hotel A destination in its own right, with antiques-filled cottages, private outdoor soaking tubs, and flower and vegetable gardens (in full bloom this month). INFO: 17 rooms, suites, and cottages from $189; 707/275-2244.

Wineries to visit

Brassfield Estate One of several standout wineries in the area, this 2,500-acre former cattle ranch sits at 1,800-f00t elevation in what's known as High Valley. By appointment only; free tastings; 10915 High Valley Rd.; 707/998-1895.

CeÓgo Del Lago Winery $5 tastings; 5115 E. State 20, Nice; 707/274-1462.

Steele Wines The oldest and best-known winery in the county; Jed Steele was the first winemaker at Kendall-Jackson. Closed Sun through May 27, open daily starting May 28; $5 tastings; 4350 Thomas Dr., Kelseyville; 707/279-9475.

Local wines to drink

Look for great Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and more from the hills around Northern California's Clear Lake.

Gregory Graham Rolling Knolls Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Red Hills, Lake County; $16). Almost a cocktail, with grapefruit juice, peach nectar, and bitters.

Six Sigma Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (Lake County; $20). Lemon-blossom aromas give way to exuberant grapefruit.

Guenoc Petite Sirah 2004 (Lake County; $20). Juicy plums and blueberries, hints of orange peel and chocolate.

Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Red Hills, Lake County; $27). Earthy forest and tobacco notes, with spicy dark fruit.

Spencer Roloson Madder Lake Vineyard Syrah 2004 (Clear Lake; $32). Intense blackberries, mint, and black pepper wrapped in cedar.

Steele "Stymie" Founder's Reserve Syrah 2002 (Lake County; $40). The wild side of Syrah -- tobacco, game, and blackberries. --Sara Schneider E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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