December 7, 2016 by Joe Kukura

Art and wine have always created a special pair together, and they pair exceptionally well in California’s northern wine country region of Lake County. Fine art goes perfectly with fine wine, and the artists of Lake County are designing handcrafted works that would make ideal gifts for the holiday season—particularly for wine lovers.

The galleries and art shops of Lake County are of an outstanding vintage, and a few deserve special mention for your gift shopping needs or just to appreciate their fine art.

Main Street Gallery in Lakeport is home to the Lake County Arts Council, and features an ongoing display of works by local artists plus a gift shop with a specific wine country flair. Their monthly First Friday Fling combines wine, art and live music for a can’t-miss happy hour, and you can keep an eye on their calendar of upcoming events for other celebrations of the Lake County arts scene.

lake county wine studioWine connoisseurs won’t find a finer gallery for their tastes than the Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, which functions as both an art gallery and a wine tasting room. Their gift shop of course features wines by the bottle, plus wine-barrel art, jewelry, paintings and specialty food products.

Meanwhile, in Middletown, the Middletown Art Center has an impressive lineup of featured artists from the Lake County region. It is an eclectic hub and art gallery that sells and displays Lake County art, and offers an array of classes ranging from figure drawing to yoga to playing the harmonica. Their current exhibit, Ashes to Art, features works about the tragic Valley fire of 2015 and serves as an inspiring homage to the resilience of Lake County residents.

But you’ll also find handmade felt, enamels, paintings, sculptures and jewelry by Alana Clearlake, glass works by Marge Bougas, and ceramics handcrafted by Scott Parady, Kathleen Scavone and Alicia Farnsworth. Prints will be on display by local artists like Farnsworth, Nicholas Hay and Ricia Araiza and Michael Leventhal.

There are also sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs by a variety of contemporary Lake County artists, including Diego and Sherry Harris, Marcus Maria Jung, Lisa Kaplan, Karen Turcotte, John Hanses, Rojax, Sage Abella, Mark Nichols and more.

Some Lake County residents are creating magnificent works that exemplify the pastoral beauty of this northern wine country region. Painter Claudia Flood specializes in wine country portraits and landscapes, and her work has been commissioned by numerous wineries. Watercolor master Diana Liebe has created an array of stunning landscapes and floral paintings, and also offers one-of-a-kind custom prints on scarves, shirts and even shoes. Shelby Posada does outstanding work in acrylics, and also serves as executive director of the Lake County Arts Council.

All of these painters’ work is currently on display or available for purchase at the Main Street Gallery in Lakeport.

The Lake County Wine Studio is fortunate to have the intricately detailed, multimedia quiltwork of Laraine Wade-Butter on display and available through November, and works by featured local artist Jackie Farley in December.

When you buy artisan gifts created by Lake County artists this holiday season, the real gift you’re giving is to Lake County itself. The best way to support Lake County as it continues to recover from 2015’s Valley fire and the Clayton fire of this past summer is to be a patron of this wine country region, and to be a supporter of its artisan craftspeople.

These artists have faced significant challenges during the recovery period from these fires, and selling their locally crafted goods helps them—and Lake County—get back on their feet. Stay away from the hectic retail crowds of the holiday shopping season and head to pastoral Lake County, where the galleries and art shops feature one-of-a-kind artists whose works are gifts that keep on giving.