April 3, 2016 by Joe Kukura

It’s one of the most spectacular springs for wildflower blooms

There are thousands of sweet-smelling, colorful reasons to visit wine country this season, because the northern region of wine country in Lake County, California, is blooming with wildflowers like nothing you’ve ever seen.  This spring in particular, after a much-needed wet winter, California wildflowers are blanketing meadows and hillsides with colorful blossoms and blooms that highlight nature at its most spectacular. And Clear Lake is full to the brim, providing an idyllic backdrop for this springtime spectacle. The stunning image above by Ron Keas is proof enough.

The rich soils of Lake County wine country produce more than just grapes, and in spring months sprout lupines of all colors, dazzling orange poppies, the bright magenta of the western redbud and so much more. These wildflowers are waiting to be enjoyed through various hikes and guided tours throughout Lake County, and also provide unbeatable backdrops for a Lake County wedding or a day of nature photography.

The flowers you’ll see on a Lake County wildflower spree offer a palette of colors beyond comparison. The meadows, valleys and mountains of Lake County are coated with the vibrant purple of the small clarkia, sprawling fields of tall yellow and white lupines, wildly shaped red ribbons, the naturally occurring hot pinks of the pink spineflower, the eye-catching purple and yellow contrast of the whisker brush, and countless other wildflower varieties.

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

The wildflowers of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Wildflowers cover much of California each spring, but Lake County’s spring wildflowers have an exceptionally colorful reputation. One of the fun facts about Lake County is Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady, visited Lake County to view the wildflowers at what is now the Langtry Estate & Vineyards. The winery still gives ridge vineyard tours of those same panoramic viewing areas, with picnic tables at spots overlooking the famed wine-producing Guenoc Valley.

The wildflowers look great from any perspective, but perhaps the most fun way to take in the wildflowers is from a horse-drawn carriage or wagon. That’s exactly what Eleven Roses Ranch in Clearlake Oaks offers, with wildflower tours available in an authentic 1800s horse or mule-drawn carriage. Eleven Roses’ historic-family-ranch day trips become specialized wildflower tours in springtime, adding a series of spectacular wildflower-viewing hotspots to its regular carriage tour itineraries that conclude with a genuine chuckwagon barbecue, Dutch-oven cobbler and sampling of distinctive Lake County wines.

If you prefer to tour the wildflower fields on your own two feet, make plans to attend one of Lake County’s most popular annual events, the Wildflower Brunch. This year’s Wildflower Brunch is scheduled for Saturday, April 30 at Clear Lake State Park. The morning starts with a build-your-own-omelet breakfast, then continues all day with expert-led presentations and wildflower tours. Not only is this an unparalleled chance to see rare and unique wildflowers in full bloom, but all proceeds go to the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association.

Lake County also has a number of scenic and highly recommended wildflower drives to enjoy at your own schedule and leisure. Wildflowers galore decorate the roadsides of Highway 175 between Middletown and Cobb, or Highway 29 between Middletown and Lower Lake. Bottle Rock Road between Cobb and Kelseyville offers a gorgeous wildflower drive, and a turnoff at Boggs Lake Ecological Reserve is highly recommended. The pear and walnut orchards surrounding Kelseyville and Finley in Lake County also have wildflower blooms that put on quite a show.

Wildflowers appear all year long in Lake County, but the peak wildflower season of spring won’t last much longer. It’s one of the most spectacular springs for wildflower blooms, with this year’s winter rains well exceeding those of recent years. Make plans to see this historically huge wildflower bloom for yourself with a drive, hike or even a carriage tour of Lake County’s wonderful wildflower fields, and experience the flower power in full bloom.