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North of Napa: California Wine Country as It Used to Be

Program Number: 19191RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/14/2012 - 10/19/2012; 5/22/2016 - 5/27/2016; 10/2/2016 - 10/7/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Upper Lake, California
Price starting at: $1,082.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Food & Wine Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

A hidden gem of the wine industry lies nestled in the pristine valleys and hills of Lake County. Here, where Prohibition wiped out the vineyards that produced the premier wines of the era, the vineyards flourish once again, world-class wines flow, and an exuberant spirit prevails. Come learn about the roots of California winemaking in California wine country as it used to be, free from crowds and commercialism.


• Learn about the many natural elements that produce a great wine-growing area from an acclaimed winemaker, and study also with local and regional viticulture and winemaking experts.
• Explore the intricacies of wine and food pairing with a wine competition judge and then practice side-by-side with a chef preparing a gourmet lunch.
• Savor award-winning wines and join in a wine blending contest as you journey to six outstanding wineries, where growers and wine makers welcome you to their world of harvest, crush and unique growing methods.

Activity Particulars

Modest walking through vineyards and wineries; some uneven and sloped terrain.

Date Specific Information

5-22-2016, 10-2-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Upper Lake

Born as Upper Clear Lake in 1856, Upper Lake is a town of 1,000 or so residents within Lake County, a longtime farming community that had grown into a wine-producing region of some renown when Prohibition arrived and most of the vineyards were uprooted. The industry has since reemerged, with some 8,800 acres of vineyards across the county today.

Beautifully restored 1890s hotel on California Register of Historic Places. All rooms with one king-size bed. No roommate matching.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Bernard Butcher

With wife Lynne, Bernie Butcher owns the Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon & Café. The Tallman, built in the 1890's, has been completely restored and is listed on the California Register of Historic Resources as a Point of Historical Interest. Bernie is an exhibited black and white photographer and former history and economics and photography instructor. He co-founded and managed the Amsterdam Pacific Corporation, a private investment banking firm sold in 1995.
Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes moved to Northern California’s picturesque rolling country of Lake County in 1999 and began his enological adventure. He has been fortunate to work for several of the region’s leading wineries — Kendall-Jackson, Vérité Winery and, currently, Six Sigma Ranch — and has learned about winemaking from the technical aspects to crafting critically acclaimed, classically-styled wines. His easygoing personality has made him a favorite Road Scholar instructor.
Pietro Buttitta

Pietro Buttitta grew up in the Russian River Valley just outside of Santa Rosa, surrounded by French Colombard grapevines. As a student at Western Culinary Institute in Portland, he worked in several of the city’s finest establishments, serving in roles such as chef de cuisine, banquet chef, sous chef and pastry chef. Pietro spent his spare time working on his father’s vineyard in Kelseyville, and a connection to the vine was slowly rekindled. In 2008, he made the jump back into the wine world and is now the winemaker at the family’s Rosa d’Oro Vineyards. Rosa d’Oro’s focus on Italian cultivars has produced double gold medals at the California State Fair and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. In 2010, Pietro became a certified sommelier and member of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has judged at wine competitions, and in 2011, co-chaired the Lake County Wine Competition with Sonoma State University’s Ray Johnson, gaining an inside perspective to evaluation and judging.
Terry Dereniuk

The owner and proprietor of Cat’s Paw Vineyard in Kelseyville, Calif., Terry Dereniuk is passionate about her love for wine and viniculture. In 2013, she became the executive director of the Lake County Winery Association, and prior to that role, worked with the Lake County Winegrape Commission as the program manager for their USDA specialty crop grant. Utilizing her degree in business management, Terry authored petitions to establish two recently approved American Viticultural Areas, Big Valley District and Kelsey Bench. Terry is also a director on the Lake County Farm Bureau board, a member of the Lake County Master Gardeners, and an active member of the Lake County Chapter of California Women for Agriculture, chairing that organization’s AgVenture program for the last two years.
Meals and Lodgings
   Tallman Hotel
  Upper Lake, CA 5 nights
 Tallman Hotel
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: The Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California is a return to a simpler time. This handsome country hotel, built in the 1890's, was completely restored and expanded to a 17-room luxury facility between 2004 and 2006. The historic hotel received one of seven statewide historic preservation awards in 2007 from the California Heritage Council and, in July 2008, it was officially listed on the California Register of Historic Resources as a Point of Historical Interest. The interiors of the hotel are inspired by the natural setting of Lake County. Antique and custom crafted furniture, hand painted murals and artwork depicting flora and fauna create simple yet sophisticated surroundings. Eastlake style furniture decorates the guestrooms. The authentic look and feel of the hotel transports patrons back in time -- but geo-exchange heating and cooling systems, solar panels on the roof and modern facilities all produce a comfortable, state-of-the-art, eco-friendly environment. The hotel is the first location in its county to feature an electric vehicle charging station.
  Contact info: 9550 Main Street
Upper Lake, CA 95485 USA
phone: 707-275-2245
  Room amenities: Program accommodations in this restored historic country hotel feature one bed per room. If you register double occupancy, you will be sharing one bed with your traveling companion. For this reason we will not be able to pair unacquainted roommates.
  Facility amenities: Guests are invited to relax in the parlor or dining room of the historic hotel, to wander about the gardens, and to enjoy the pool and spa facilities. Complimentary hi-speed wireless internet is available throughout the property and wired internet connections are included in all guestrooms. Features include: Spacious guestrooms, high speed Internet, swimming pool & hot tub, and Blue Wing Saloon & Café. The central feature of the property is the historic hotel. Downstairs is the parlor and reception area along with a beautifully decorated dining room. Upstairs are four guest rooms featuring fully restored period bathroom fixtures and private verandas. Facing a shady garden is the Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant and a complex of eight Garden Rooms, all with verandas facing the garden. The four lower Garden rooms each feature a private back deck with outdoor shower and a teak Japanese "Ofuro" soaking tub. The complex also features the Caretakers unit consisting of three spacious suites and the Farmhouse building with an ADA accessible suite topped by a unique single garret room with private balcony. The Tallman Hotel does not have an elevator. A limited number of downstairs rooms are available. PLEASE REQUEST A DOWNSTAIRS ROOM ON YOUR HEALTH & SAFEY FORM IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE WITH STAIRS.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel directly for rates Additional nights must be booked directly with the hotel. Be sure to mention you are an Road Scholar participant.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel directly for rates Additional nights must be booked directly with the hotel. Be sure to mention you are an Road Scholar participant.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in begins at 3:00 PM; program registration begins at 4:00 PM; orientation begins at 4:30 PM. You will be staying at Tallman Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast; hotel check-out by 11:00 AM. You will be staying at Tallman Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Participants are asked to complete a Participant Background Information Form.
  Parking availability:
Parking is complimentary at the hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Upper Lake, CA
  Nearest highway: 20 and 29
  Nearest airport:  Sacramento, San Francisco or Oakland
  From End of Program
  Location: Upper Lake, CA
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Tallman Hotel (Upper Lake, CA) from Sacramento Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Enterprise Shuttle - by Tallman Hotel
phone: 707-275-2244 x502
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$75.00 for one person; $15.00 for each additional person
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2 hrs 10 min 




111 miles


Upon request, a shuttle can be arranged to pick you up and drop you off at the Sacramento Airport. We are limited to one pickup time (Sunday, program start date at 1:00pm) and one drop off time (Friday, program end date at noon). Please arrange your flights accordingly if you would like to use this service. Reservations MUST be made at least one week in advance, or we cannot guarantee availability. Contact Susan Mesick at 707-275-2244 x 502 to make reservations.


Tallman Hotel (Upper Lake, CA) from San Francisco


From Airport




None - Car Required
Advanced Reservations Required

Driving Directions
  Tallman Hotel (Upper Lake, CA) from Oakland Take Highway 80 to Highway 580 and across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to Highway 101 north. Just past Ukiah, turn right on Highway 20 to Upper Lake. Just past the Highway 29 turnoff for Lakeport, turn left onto Main St. Upper Lake. The hotel is on the right. Time: approximately 2 1/2 hours Note: the Hwy. 175 cut-off from Hopland on Hwy 101 to Hwy. 29 at Lakeport and on to Upper Lake often recommended by online services is a pretty but very curvy road not preferable to the route described above. As an alternative, head north on Highway 80, over the Carquinez Bridge and through Vallejo. Go left on the Marine World Parkway (Highway 37). Then turn right on Highway 29 through Napa, St. Helena and Calistoga in the Napa Valley. Turn right through Calistoga (still on Highway 29), over Mt. St. Helena, through Middletown to the Junction at Lower Lake. Continue straight at this junction (the road becomes Highway 53) until it intersects with Highway 20 to Ukiah. Turn left on Highway 20 along the east side of Clear Lake until you turn right onto Main St. Upper Lake. The hotel is on the right. Time: about 2 3/4 hours.
  Tallman Hotel (Upper Lake, CA) from Sacramento Proceed north on Interstate 5 to Williams Turn left on Highway 20 to Lakeport and Ukiah Proceed along the east side of Clear Lake to Upper Lake (just before Highway 20 intersects with Highway 29 to Lakeport) Turn right on Main St. in Upper Lake Proceed through town The hotel is on your right Time: approximately 2 1/2 hours
  Tallman Hotel (Upper Lake, CA) from San Francisco Go north over the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101 Just past Ukiah, turn right on Highway 20 to Upper Lake Just past the Highway 29 turnoff for Lakeport, turn left onto Main St. Upper Lake The hotel is on the right Time: approximately 2 1/2 hours Note: the Hwy. 175 cut-off from Hopland on Hwy 101 to Hwy. 29 at Lakeport and on to Upper Lake often recommended by online services is a pretty but very curvy road not preferable to the route described above.
Elevation Note: Elevation ranges from 1400-3000 feet

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Orientation/Presentation: From Vine to Glass/Presentation: Scenic Lake County
(Sunday, October 14)
 Afternoon: Registration at 4:00 PM followed by a champagne reception and program orientation in the hotel parlor beginning at 4:30 PM.
 Dinner: Dine at our lovely historic hotel with your fellow wine enthusiasts!
 Evening: Just north of Napa lies California's Lake County. Our study of the intriguing story of wine from growth and production to corking and tasting begins this evening as we are joined by program leader and hotel owner Bernie Butcher.

After dinner, Shannon Gunier, Executive Director of the Lake County Winegrape Commission will provide an introduction to the week and an overview of Lake County as a wine making region. The wines of Lake County were well known prior to Prohibition, outnumbering those of Napa. During Prohibition the abundant and fruitful vineyards were replaced with pear and walnut orchards. Learn how Lake County, with its unique climate, soils and elevation, combined with the spirit of passionate growers and winemakers, is re-emerging as a major wine growing region. One hundred acres of vineyards in 1965 have blossomed to 8,800 today, now boasting over 30 commercial wineries.

Later this evening, Bernie Butcher will give an overview of the history of this scenic area. As owner of the charming and historic Tallman Hotel, built in the 1890’s, he will discuss the restoration of this gem amongst country hotels.

Accommodations: Tallman Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Pristine Wine Country/Lecture: Viticulture and Appellations of Lake County/Lectures & Visit to Shannon Ridge Ranch & Tasting at Shannon Ridge Winery and Ceago Vinegarden
(Monday, October 15)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: A wine enthusiast’s adventure awaits you as we begin our studies today! Lake County in its pristine beauty takes you back to the roots of wine making! Lake County provides the clarity of experience of “California wine country as it used to be,” refreshingly free from the commercialism of other more well-known wine locales.

Although just geographically north of famous Napa, Lake County is a dramatic step back in time. Here you find the pristine natural beauty of mountainous terrain dotted with vineyards, the cleanest air in California, and the beauty of the largest lake within California state boundaries. Here you are captivated by the spirit of the vineyard owners and winemakers who delight to share their passion, their stories and their insights with you on a personal basis.

Led by Matt Hughes, our study leader and a well-known local winemaker, begin with a study of “Viticulture and the Differing Appellations of Lake County.” Learn about the natural elements that create the best wine growing areas as we set the foundation for our upcoming experiences. Lake County is unique in its diversity, with wine grapes grown from lake level at 1400 feet to elevations over 3000 feet and from highly volcanic soils to the rich loam of the old lake bed.

Lake County Wineries website:

 Lunch: At the hotel
 Afternoon: Depart for Shannon Ridge Ranch above the town of Clearlake Oaks to see an example of grapes grown at high elevations and in volcanic soils. Guided by our expert, learn how light quality, elevation and swings in temperature provide unique conditions for wine production, bringing about an intensity and yet balance to area wines, distinct in their individuality. Then sample and savor Shannon Ridge’s wines at their tasting room in Clearlake Oaks.

Travel to Ceago Vinegarden, a majestic biodynamic Farm. Touted by Sunset Magazine and New York Times articles, explore this beautiful lakefront facility. From the vantage point of its beautiful Spanish-style hacienda, capture the unspoiled vistas of vineyards, valleys and mountains. Learn about their proactive approach to farming that looks at the individuality of each property and adds back with natural plant and animal life to emulate nature and create a self-sustainable environment. Savor some of their unique blends.

Ceago Vinegarden website:

Shannon Ridge website:

 Dinner: Buffet dinner at the hotel
 Evening: Get to know your fellow enthusiasts relaxing over dinner, or go next door to the Blue Wing Saloon and Café to tap your toes to a local Blues Band, a regular Monday night event. Tonight's band is Will Siegel and Friends from Ukiah.
Accommodations: Tallman Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Presentation: Making of Wines/Hands-on Grape Processing/Sampling and Winemaker Lectures - Steele Winery, Chacewater Wine and Olive Company and Lake County Wine Studio
(Tuesday, October 16)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: The making of wine is our focus today. An out-in-the-field experience led by our study leader examines the different approaches to wine making. Jeff Smith from Dusinberre Cellars provides an orientation lecture this morning.

Head out then to Steele Winery where their assistant winemaker, Joy Merrilees will introduce us to their process and the individuality of their wines. Get your own hands right into it, as we process grapes using a punch press. Sample their wines and view the intricate bottling process.

Steele Wines website:

 Lunch: Box lunch at beautiful Steele Winery
 Afternoon: Depart for the nearby town of Kelseyville, which features the tasting rooms for local wines from Wildhurst Vineyards and Rosa D'Oro. Stop by the artisan glass-blowing shop of Jay Buechier or Blue Flame Glass.

Following the Kelseyville visit, travel a short distance to Chacewater Wine and Olive Company for a taste of their wines and the wide variety of olive oils pressed on site.

Head back to Upper Lake to Lake County Wine Studio which features wines from area wineries that do not have their own wine tasting room. Discuss and sample!

Rosa D'Oro Wines website:

Wildhurst Wines website:

Chacewater Wines and Olive Mill website:

Lake County Wine Studio website:

 Dinner: On the veranda of the Blue Wing Saloon and Café next door to our hotel.
 Evening: Relax after a busy day or enjoy time with your new friends after our late dinner.
Accommodations: Tallman Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Wine Appreciation, Tasting & Food Pairing/Hands-on Preparation of Gourmet Lunch With Wine Pairing/Free Time
(Wednesday, October 17)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Focus today on wine appreciation and tasting and food pairing. Led by Ray Johnson, who combines a background as college wine instructor, wine competition judge and wine newsletter editor, learn how to taste and talk about wine. Unravel the mysteries of wine labels.
 Lunch: Blue Wing Executive Chef Brian Rebitsky joins Ray Johnson to guide you through the fascinating intricacies of food and wine pairing. Using a variety of Lake County wines, observe and participate as you help prepare a gourmet lunch, and put into practice your new knowledge about food and wine pairing.
 Afternoon: Free time after the mid-afternoon completion of our gourmet lunch. Relax and enjoy the beauty of this exquisitely restored historic hotel, sip award-winning wine or head out to one of the local wineries or antique stores to explore on your own.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local fare.
 Evening: On your own to relax or explore.
Accommodations: Tallman Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Meet & Discuss With Winemakers- Brassfield Estate, Six Sigma Ranch, Gregory Graham, Vigilance/Hands-On Blending Wine
(Thursday, October 18)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Put into practice your learning experiences today as we travel to four outstanding vineyards to meet winemakers, owners and farmers. Depart first to Brassfield Estate, which will soon have the largest wine cave in the United States. All their wines are crafted entirely from grapes grown on the winery's high elevation estate above the lake where they are produced and bottled on the premises to create the finest of wines.

Travel next to Six Sigma Ranch and Vineyards, a 5,000 acre ranch, located in the picturesque rolling hills dotted with oak trees in the remote southern end of Lake County. Matt Hughes, Six Sigma winemaker, will discuss how to blend wines. Get right into the action as you individually practice blending wine. Stop a minute though to savor their award-winning Spanish-style wine, Tempranillo.

Brassfield Estate website:

Six Sigma website:

 Lunch: Box lunch at beautiful Six Sigma Ranch and Vineyards.
 Afternoon: 'Depart for Gregory Graham Vineyard in Lower Lake and meet with Greg Graham, for 20 years the master winemaker at Rombauer Estate in Napa and now dean of Lake County winemakers.

Then end your visit across the street at Vigilance Vineyards, owned by Clay Shannon, with it's marvelous views of vineyards and the lake in the distance. The perfect place for a farewell photo op.

Gregory Graham website:

Vigilance Vineyards website:

 Dinner: Enjoy a gourmet 3-course dinner as we round out the program tonight at the hotel.
 Evening: Share highlights of your adventure in this evening’s wrap up session.
Accommodations: Tallman Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Program End/Independent Departures
(Friday, October 19)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Independent departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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