Paul Manuel, founder of Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill, is a do-it-yourself kind of guy. In 1988, after decades of working for his family’s construction business, he decided to plant a vineyard on property he owned with his wife, Kellye. The project turned out so well that he became a grower for Fetzer Vineyards, and the couple spent the next 10 years providing grapes for the company’s wines. In 2004, Manuel started making his own wine. Four years later, they bought a 10-acre olive mill property in the Lake County town of Kelseyville, and built a 10,000-square-foot winery on the estate.
Today, the ranch includes more than 3,000 certified-organic olive trees, producing several varieties of olives. That fruit goes into six organic extra virgin olive oils, including single-variety offerings that showcase the flavor profile of each variety. Chacewater also makes Meyer lemon– and blood orange–flavored oils, milled with whole fruit and organic olives, and oil-infused soaps and lotions in such alluring varieties as basil mint, avocado, carrot ginger, and cucumber melon.
You can try all eight oils, along with Chacewater’s full lineup of wines, for free in the tasting room. Late April is an especially great time to stop by, because that’s when Chacewater hosts the annual Kelseyville Olive Festival, featuring local vendors of olive-related products, crafts, and food, plus mill tours, wine and beer tastings and a fun olive-spitting contest.
While in the area, lovers of the outdoors have plenty of places to get a taste of Lake County. Hikers should check out Clear Lake State Park and Mount Konocti County Park, while Lakeside Park Kelseyville and Highland Springs Recreational Area both offer great fishing and all types of water recreation.