California Wine Country: New Regions You Need to Know
January 2011 • Ray Isle
California wine country is a vast patchwork of wine zones. Whether or not they have American Viticultural Area, or AVA, status (denoting a region where the wines have distinctive character), many new spots have enormous potential. Here, the new California wine country region names to know.
California Wine Country: Red Hills Lake County
The Red Hills Lake County AVA, north of Napa Valley, got a recent boost when star Bordeaux winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt chose to make one of his first California wines with Red Hills grapes. But local growers have long known how well Cabernet grows in the rocky, volcanic soil here.
2008 Shannon Ridge Ranch Collection Cabernet Sauvignon ($19) Red Hills grapes were blended with others from High Valley (another Lake County region) for this full-flavored red.
2005 Snows Lake One Cabernet ($45) Snows Lake’s high elevation keeps temperatures cool, making for balanced Cabernets like this one.
2008 Steele Cabernet Sauvignon Red Hills Lake County ($29) Jed Steele, a pioneer in Lake County, draws from one of the region’s top vineyards, Amber Knolls, for this focused Cabernet.
2007 Obsidian Ridge Half Mile ($60) The unusual spice notes of Hungarian oak and a bright floral lift from a high percentage of Petit Verdot make this Cabernet blend extremely compelling.