Lake County Winegrowers Sustainable eNews – October 2012 2nd Edition

Welcome to our next edition of the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program eNewsletter.In this edition, we feature the graduation of our first class of Master Vignerons and more on the program, such as what some of the first year’s students had to say about their experience.…LCWC’s Master Vigneron Program – A Cornerstone of SustainabilityLake County, CA – As many of you know the Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) is and continues to strive to be a leader of sustainability in the vineyard. It is not only a function of achieving it in our own vineyards, but also by setting an example and developing tools that will benefit others. We are creating trends and the idea is a firmly rooted part of our “brand” and core messaging. This is critical to good ecosystem stewardship, effective vineyard management and improving our bottom line.

A cornerstone component of our Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP) is our innovative Master Vigneron Program (MVP.) As most of you know, this is a unique program that contributes a fundamental, yet often underserved, element to sustainability – the human capital portion. MVP trains and exposes vineyard workers, who have applied and demonstrated the potential to be accepted, to many aspects of the wine industry. It is not just vineyard management techniques, though that remains a significant component, it also presents opportunities to visit, experience and learn about broader aspects of the wine industry. Thus, it builds better employees who, in-turn, improve quality in the vineyard, create a better working environment and give themselves an opportunity for advancement.

LCWC’s program launched a little over a year ago. At that time, an inaugural class of nominated applicants was selected as the first MVP group. Over the course of the year, the students attended the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, visited UC Davis, took field trips to vineyards and wineries, participated in wine tasting and sensory analysis seminars and exercises, received human resource training and much more. We are pleased to announce that this group will celebrate and be recognized for their accomplishment at a graduation ceremony to be held in Lake County next month. We here at the LCWC have been honored by their dedicated participation. The event will feature LCWC representatives, Lake County officials, the students and their families.

Currently, we are recruiting our second class that will begin in December. We have approximately 10 openings for the next group that will be determined through a competitive application process. We are looking for vineyard workers, primarily those in leadership roles (though identification of qualified candidates who have demonstrated an increasing ability to lead and manage are also encouraged to apply), to apply for the program. Some experience is desirable, though long-time tenure is not a specific requirement. We are looking for candidates who would benefit from the course and become more valuable employees through this unique curriculum. If you have an employee or know of someone who has demonstrated ability and shows promise for development in the industry and would like to nominate them, please contact LCWC Education Director, Paul Zellman at The deadline to apply is November 10th.

Master Vigneron Graduates Praise The Program – Ready To Mentor

Lake County, CA – Many of the inaugural students have expressed very positive feedback regarding their experience becoming an MVP. Also, several of them will now serve as mentors to the incoming class – we are pleased at their desire to continue and value their contribution greatly. Here is what some of them said about the past year:

Jaime Rosas of Lyon Vineyards (pictured at left) really enjoyed the visit to UC Davis and their Foundation Plant Services, especially, He was impressed by the intense screening work that goes into producing clean propagation stock. He said it will take several years to implement some of the pruning/training techniques in his vineyard, indicative of the long-term value if the MVP program.

Tacho Corona, who works for Stokes Vineyard, mentioned the visit to NovaVine winegrape vine nursery. While there, he saw that they also propagate olives and figs. One of his bosses is interested in planting either olives and/or figs and Tacho guided them online (having taken a computer class in Lakeport!) to the NovaVine website to look at the varietal offerings found there.

Jeromino Rico, Dorn Vineyards, mentioned the visit to Gallo in Geyserville and seeing sand filtration used to clean up a small reservoir’s organic matter, to then be used in drip systems. Dorn will be installing a sand filter this winter on one of their vineyards and Jeromino is now well-positioned to implement and manage the system.

All the Master Vignerons said they would like to learn more about diseases. While many of them wanted to learn more about water & nutrient management/application. This vital component will be further implemented in the next class.

Sustainable Winegrowing Program

To learn more about the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program please visit our website’s program page here.

There is more information on the program, our goals for a sustainable future in our vineyards and how Lake County is a regional leader in sustainability. Check it out and get involved!

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Get Involved…

Are you interested in participating in the program and becoming a certified sustainable vineyard? If so, the Lake County Winegrape Commission and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance are offering terrific incentives, including rebates and support resources to lessen both the cost and time it takes to be a part of it. The LCWC can provide assistance and more information. Please contact Paul Zellman, Education Director, at for more information…

Copyright © 2012 Lake County Winegrape Commission, All rights reserved.

Lake County, Napa’s Neighbor, Gains Respect

October 26, 2012 • Lettie Teague

Wall Street Journal

CHEERS FOR THE LAKERS | Arpad and Peter Molnar, owners, and Alex Beloz, winemaker at the Obsidian Ridge Vineyard

NEAR THE END of the Civil War, the U.S. government gave away 160 acres of land to anyone willing to help settle the West. Vineyard owner Andy Beckstoffer has his own version of that Homestead Act: He has offered famous winemakers and vintners a free trip by helicopter to California’s Lake County to check out his vineyards—along with “favorable terms” for the purchase of grapes.

Mr. Beckstoffer is one of the largest—not to mention most enterprising—vineyard developers in the county. He owns about 1,000 acres in Lake County and about the same amount of land in Mendocino and Napa counties. But right now Mr. Beckstoffer is particularly focused on Lake County, which he believes has the potential to produce some very good, very reasonably priced Cabernet. And he’s not alone; almost two months ago, the Gallo family made a very big commitment to the county with the purchase of the 2,000-acre Snows Lake Vineyard, whose 800 acres of vineyards are primarily planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. According to Gallo Senior Vice President Roger Nabedian, it’s the largest purchase that Gallo has made in at least 10 years, in terms of both money and size.

In its pre-Prohibition heyday, there were close to 3,000 acres of vineyards in Lake County, and its lakefront resorts attracted top Hollywood acts. But over the years, the vineyards were almost entirely ripped out and replaced by more-profitable walnuts and pears (and the top acts all migrated to Lake Tahoe). By the 1980s, the walnut and pear markets had dried up as well, and Lake County’s economy—and profile—declined even more.

Oenofile: Some of the Lake County’s Best Whites and Reds

Photo by F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal

Click to view interactive

But the past 10 years have been a time of resurgence and regrowth. There are now more than 8,000 acres of vineyards in Lake County and a few dozen wineries as well. (A few decades ago there were just four.) Five subappellations were drawn up, most notably Red Hills, Clear Lake and High Valley. According to Mr. Beckstoffer, these subdistricts were created by growers as much to recognize their distinctive geography as to distance themselves from the less-than-illustrious Lake County name. “Lake County had a reputation for bad wine in the 1990s,” said Mr. Beckstoffer, naming the decade he first ventured north from Napa.

Andy Beckstoffer’s Amber Knolls Vineyard

One of the reasons that the wines were so bad was the grapes were planted in “all the wrong places,” according to Mr. Beckstoffer—an opinion I heard expressed several more times from several more growers during my visit last month. The grapes—particularly Cabernet—were planted down in the valleys instead of up in the hills, and the fruit didn’t ripen properly. Valley wines also lacked the intensity of wines made from hillside fruit. Not that most wine drinkers had an opportunity to distinguish the difference between the two as most Lake County grapes were added to blends of various grapes from various places, including Napa Valley.

Mr. Beckstoffer and I had this conversation on the way to Steele Wines, one of the earliest wineries of modern Lake County, founded by Jed Steele in 1991. Mr. Steele was the much-heralded creator of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay but left fame and fortune behind when he moved to Lake County and opened a decidedly low-key place of his own. The Steele winery is a world apart from his past corporate life, which is to say it’s quintessential Lake County: a low-slung building just off of the highway, across from a purveyor of farm equipment and pet food.

Although many growers, including Mr. Beckstoffer, believe that Cabernet Sauvignon will make Lake County respectable if not renowned, others, like Mr. Steele, seem to believe that the right grape for Lake County is…everything. Mr. Steele turns out a veritable alphabet of wines—from Aligote to Zinfandel and just about every varietal in between. But not all of his fruit comes from Lake County—sometimes it’s from places as far away as Washington state.

Other winemakers have backed other varietals, most notably Sauvignon Blanc or, in the case of Gregory Graham, Viognier. In fact, Mr. Graham, a Lake County pioneer, told me he thought Viognier would “rule the world” in the late 1990s. Although his Viognier is very good, that never happened, and Mr. Graham makes many other wines as well—Cabernet, Grenache, Chardonnay and Syrah.Sonoma-based superstar winemaker David Ramey, who consults to Brassfield Winery, in Upper Lake, believes that aromatic white wines like Albariño, Gewürztraminer and Roussane are the right grapes for Lake County. And he’s quite keen on Malbec, too. That red varietal has a “tremendous future” in the county, said Mr. Ramey, though there are only 25 acres of Malbec in Lake County right now.

If the absolute best Lake County grapes have yet to be determined, they are, at least, still quite reasonably priced. For example, Mr. Beckstoffer charges at least $8,000 a ton for grapes from his top Napa Cabernet vineyard, while at his Red Hills outpost in Lake (which he farms exactly the same way), the cost is $2,500 a ton for Cabernet. The Lake County average is $1,800.

And yet only about a third of the winemakers buying Mr. Beckstoffer’s fruit are making Cabernets with a Red Hills label, he estimates. Most, like winemaker Dave Guffy of the Hess Collection in Napa, are using it in blends. (Mr. Guffy uses 45% Lake County fruit in his Hess Select red.) The same is true for other growers—Gregory Graham estimates that he sells 60% of his fruit to Napa Valley wineries who bottle it into a blend. (A wine may be labeled “Napa” as long as 85% of the fruit is from there.)

Peter Molnar, chairman of the Lake County Wine Grape Commission, makes wine in Lake County as well as Napa and Sonoma and showcases Lake County with his wine, Obsidian Ridge. His 2009 is a wine he calls “a hillside Cabernet for the rest of us,” priced accordingly at $28 a bottle. Marked by dark fruit, currant and tobacco, it’s intense and impressive—one of the best Cabernets I tasted on my visit. Like many of the producers I met during my visit, Mr. Molnar doesn’t live in the county, but several hours away in North Berkeley. Others commute from Sonoma and Napa. That’s another big challenge for Lake County—finding winemakers who actually want to live there. Even though an acre of land costs a fraction of what it does in Napa (about $10,000 plus the cost of developing a vineyard), there hasn’t exactly been a stampede of would-be resident vintners. Maybe it’s just a matter of time—and a few more good wines in the market with Lake County on their labels. After all, it took not one but three Homestead Acts to get the West settled.

See wine videos and more from Off Duty at Email Lettie at


Winegrape Quality Promises to be Above Average

October 23, 2012 • Susan Stout, Contributing Writer

Photo by Hannah Henry

KELSEYVILLE – Lake County’s winegrape growers are optimistic about this year’s harvest yields, and wineries appear to be happy with the quality, growers from throughout the county are reporting.

While the annual harvest of smaller and larger vineyards is completed, some varietals earlier than others, the Lake County Winegrape Commission is hearing from growers that the quantity of winegrapes may be less than anticipated but the quality is promising to be better than average.

Speaking about Beckstoffer Vineyards’ sauvignon blanc, malbec and cabernet sauvignon crops from the Red Hills appellation, Vineyard Operations Manager Randy Krag said, “Overall, we’ll be very close to target with the yields, and the quality is excellent this year.”

He attributes the good harvest in part to the weather this year and noted that one drawback is that Beckstoffer has had to be “in something of a holding pattern” as it waits for fermenter space to be available because some client wineries have been full with Napa and Sonoma fruit.

“The dry weather up to now has been welcome (in contrast to the last 2 years), except that (cabernet) fruit may be losing weight in the dry heat, if we can’t harvest it soon,” Krag said. “We’re irrigating later and longer than normal for this time of year, trying to keep the vines maturing normally without drying too abruptly. We expect to see wineries pick up their schedule for deliveries from Lake County over the next seven to 10 days, to finish this harvest.”

Beckstoffer has more than 850 acres of cabernet sauvignon vineyard in Lake County.

“I guess one of our biggest disadvantages is our own success: wineries have learned that the quality of Lake County cabernet holds out late into the fall better than other areas, so they tend to push us down the priority list as they concentrate elsewhere in the state,” said Krag.

Beckstoffer finished harvest of its sauvignon blanc “some weeks ago,” Krag said. The 70 acres of the sauvignon blanc is planted in locations where frost occurs early in the season. It ripens early and the vintner gets it off the vine before a freeze, he added.

As for the 23 acres of malbec, Krag said, “It is a little earlier than cabernet, and harvest is finished there, with very good quality. The malbec finally set a good crop after several years of light crops, so wineries and grower were happy about that.”

Malbec proved to be good for St. Oloff Vineyard, as well, according to Cindy Oloff.

“We’ve never had such a good malbec,” she said, adding that it is difficult to grow. The weather helped, she added, helping to produce a nice barbera crop, too. Although the barbera “is less than usual” in quantity, it “still cropped fine.”

St. Oloff Vineyard, located near Lampson Field off Highland Springs Road, Lakeport, is 17 acres of malbec, barbera, and nebbiolo grapes. Oloff noted that the nebbiolo was ripening at a slower rate than usual.

“Everybody was talking about an early harvest but sugars plateaued,” said Oloff. For all the varietals, “the fruit looks good; wineries are happy,” she added.

Hawk and Horse Vineyards near Middletown also experienced a successful season, according to co-owner Tracey Hawkins. She reported that harvest for petit verdot, petite syrah and cabernet franc started in late September. “The fruit came in at just around 25 degrees brix – perfect!” she shared in an online announcement. “Cabernet sauvignon from the 10-acre bowl came in on September 27, perfectly ripened in our biodynamic vineyard.”

Robinson Lake Vineyard Harvest, Photo provided by Robinson Lake Vineyard

In Upper Lake, winegrapes from the Robinson Lake Vineyards are showing “above average” quality and quantity, according to vineyard manager and winemaker Jonathan Walters. “What a wonderful relief it has been this growing season from the past couple of growing seasons. Mother Nature has been very kind and hasn’t caused too many challenges,” he said. Walters’ vineyards yield petite sirah, merlot and chardonnay from a total of 68 acres. “We are looking forward to tasting our labor of love in a glass very soon,” the Lake County Winegrape Commission board member added.

Lake County vineyard acreage remains steady at about 8,500 acres, and this year’s winegrape harvest is expected to be valued at $35 million-$40 million. For more information, visit the Lake County Winegrape Commission website at

Winegrape Commission Seeks Assessment Information

October 23, 2012

   The Lake County Winegrape Commission is beginning to collect the 2012 harvest year’s assessment payments and generate corresponding reports. Lake County grape growers and wineries should have received a request from the Commission for details of all sales and processing of winegrapes during the past two years.

All winegrape growers in the county are required to pay an assessment on winegrapes grown and marketed. In most cases, the grower does not pay the assessment directly, according to Lake County Winegrape Commission office manager Susan Peters, who has sent reminder letters to Lake County growers. Remittance of the assessments is usually completed by vintners who purchase and/or process winegrapes; the vintners deduct the amounts from the payments made to growers, Peters explained.

Under Commission law, in accordance with California Food and Agriculture Code governing commissions and marketing orders, winegrape growers are required to provide to the Commission the lists of vintners who buy or process grapes for them. “If the vineyard has been sold, we need to know that, too,” said Peters.

Information provided by the growers is cross-checked with details obtained from vintners, said Peters. “With this information in hand, the Commission can ensure that vintners have properly reported and remitted the required assessments on the growers’ behalf.”

Besides collecting the funds, the Commission is compiling important information about the vineyards, according to Peters. People are interested in certain data – elevation, soil, acreage, location, and the year a particular vineyard was planted. “Our new vineyard management program in development through SureHarvest will allow us to collect and provide that data,” she said.

Information provided by growers remains confidential. Only aggregate data is available as public information, the Commission representatives noted.

Assessment forms and letters are emailed out to all growers around the end of September, and another form is emailed to wineries around the same time. Forms and assessment payments are mailed to the Commission office where information from the forms is compiled and assessment amounts and payments are tracked.

The Commission’s operating budget is based on the funds collected from the assessments. The information also becomes useful for marketing activities.

If growers fail to report the names of buyers and processors, the Commission may be forced to seek payments from the growers directly rather than working with the vintners/buyers, said Peters. Growers and wineries are urged to complete the forms and make payments without delay to reap the benefits of the Commission’s work.

For additional information about the assessments and reporting requirements, call Peters at 707-279-2633, ext. 301, or find more information on the Commission’s website,

Peters Lending Hands to Winegrape Commission

October 23. 2012 • Susan Stout, Contributing Writer

KELSEYVILLE – Giving the illusion of a woman with more than two arms and hands, Susan Peters is managing the many tasks of the Lake County Winegrape Commission office. Peters was hired about a year ago, but she settled into her role so well that it seems she has been there longer, says Commission President Shannon Gunier.

Peters is responsible for all the financial business of the Commission, planning and organizing events for the group, communicating with winegrape growers, maintaining the website, coordinating assessment collections, and working with the Commission’s president and Board of Directors.

“The Commission is fortunate to have an office manager with the extraordinary skills that Susan has brought to the position,” said Gunier. “The directors and I rely on her for a variety of tasks, and she handles them with ease and finesse. When a multitude of things are happening at one time, Susan is able to juggle priorities, complete various duties and still offer the best assistance we could ask for, with the board and our growers, alike.

“Susan’s superior accounting and computer skills have advanced the Commission’s accounting and assessment collection skills tenfold. She has updated our software and taken over our social media maintenance, plus she assists me in event planning.”

However, Peters brings more than office skills to the job, said Gunier. “She has what matters to me most: the initiative to do a great job for Lake County winegrape growers,” the president said. “She is devoted and has a lot of heart. She never objects to the myriad of duties we ask of her.”

Peters, a Lakeport resident, enjoys the fast pace of the Commission happenings. Whether she is taking care of phone calls and correspondence from the office or she is in the field to meet with existing and potential growers, media or wine industry representatives, Peters takes pleasure in her work, she says.

“It is very fulfilling,” said Peters. “I have wonderful opportunities to interact with Lake County’s winegrape growers and people at the wineries. I appreciate the hard work they do producing our premier winegrapes and wines. I am lucky to be working with such a great group of people, from the growers to the Commission’s directors.”

Technology is helping Peters do her job, she said. She is able to post and track information and statistics that the board of directors wants to see.  “It helps the directors validate how the Commission’s money is spent,” she noted.

Peters’ family has history in Lake County, and she has customer service experience from her prior work as a travel agent. Additionally, she has had experience with accounting. The combination has been beneficial to her in her role as office manager, she said. Having worked with accounts receivables in the past has aided her with the Commission’s assessment collections tasks.

“It helped to have a knowledge of the county before taking the Commission position.” The Clear Lake High School graduate said her step-father grew up in Upper Lake and her parents lived in the Lakeport area since 1971. Her mother, Pam Hinman, worked for the City of Lakeport for a number of years, and her stepfather, Marty Hinman, worked for Lake County Title for about 30 years.

Peters lives with her husband John who owns and operates a Lakeport business, Fast Forward Cylinder Heads, and her daughter Shaylee, a freshman at Kelseyville High School.

Winegrape Commission’s Website Gets New Look

October 23, 2012 • Susan Stout – Contributing Writer

KELSEYVILLE – Have you visited the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s website,, since the new version launch in March? If not, you may be pleasantly surprised to find many new features, according to Commission Office Manager Susan Peters.

 In March, the Commission gave its website a new look, thanks to the help of Sky 1 Technologies. In the following months, Peters and Sky 1 owner/operator Matt Perry have been enhancing the site’s pages with “user-friendly” information.

At the time the recreated site went public, Winegrape Commission President Shannon Gunier said, “I think visitors to the site are going to enjoy the graphics and find the information they seek with ease. We are very happy with the site that Sky 1 Technologies has developed. It gives a little punch to the messages we are conveying and helps promote Lake County’s winegrape industry with an up-to-date appearance.”

The site now features the Commission’s most recent news releases, newsletters and forms, as well as wine industry news, said Peters. The “News and Events” portion of the site, including an area for media, has been greatly enhanced with links to recent news stories and videos. In addition, visitors to the site will find links to the Commission’s social media sites. “We would like the growers – all 168 of them – to ‘Like’ us on Facebook,” Peters added.

Growers can find useful forms online, can fill them in online and send them to the Commission office. Peters said she posts information from winegrape growers and wineries.

“We’ve also posted informative pieces on the Commission’s various programs and notices of the Board of Directors’ meetings. The vineyard map has been added, and one section of the website is dedicated to posting winegrapes for sale.”

Scenic vineyard photos from throughout Lake County accompany the informative pages of the website. “We are proud to present incredible images by many professional photographers. They are talented individuals and deserve credit for their work,” said Commission President Gunier. Casey Carney, Bryan Dias and Hannah Henry are among the photographers who contributed pictures to the site.

According to website developer Perry, the Winegrape Commission had specific objectives in mind when it sought to redevelop the site’s pages. “The main purpose of the website was to give the Commission the ability to quickly add documents, media, calendar events to the site, in an easy to navigate layout that accommodates an area for growers, buyers, and public audiences,” Perry said. “The functionality of the website from the commission’s perspective is very powerful and will give them the ability to keep their growers and buyers informed and updated with the latest news and pictures.”

Gunier and Peters are happy with the way Perry worked with them to create a product that can continue to develop. “It is an ongoing project, and we’re able to add to the site directly from our office without going through a website manager,” said Peters, who is responsible for much of the website’s maintenance. “The public and our winegrape growers will find an abundance of helpful information in our web pages.”

For information about the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Gunier invites individuals to access the website on the Internet. It can be found at Gunier and her staff can also be reached by phone at 707-279-2633.

Lake County Winegrowers – September 2012

Harvest Underway ~ Wines with Altitude Wrap ~ Master Vigneron Update

Lake County Rising... Harvest is in full swing here in Lake County! So, everyone is busy with this exciting and tiring time of year. That being said, things are looking pretty good for 2012.

Below, we’ve got some notes on the progress of harvest, a wrap-up of the “Wines with Altitude” event and a Master Vigneron Program update…

Harvest 2012 Underway
Lake County Is Buzzing With Activity As Grapes Start To Roll In…

Lake County, CA – The 2012 harvest kicked off a bit over a week ago or so, with many varietals beginning to roll in, including Chardonnay and our famed, world-class Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, as you can imagine, everyone is as busy as can be and there is a lot of action. It’s a bit early to get a firm read on things at this point, but overall, so far, so good.

“Conditions have been excellent for ripening and balance,” said Paul Zellman, Education Director for the Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC).

“We’ve been getting overnight lows in the 40’s and daytime highs in the upper-80’s and lower-90’s,” he continued. “It’s allowing the fruit to achieve proper sugar all while minimizing transpiration, which means they’re keeping their acid. It’s should be terrific for balance and structure.”

Early indications are that yields might be down a bit from average. But, overall things are on track with a harvest that is coming at the right time, as opposed to much later like we’ve experienced a couple times in recent years. It looks, at this time, that 2012 will be a very good year for quality. More coming soon on harvest ’12 as things progress…

There is still some world-class Lake County fruit available – check out our listings to see how we might fit your wine program needs with top-quality winegrapes from the “Mountains of the North Coast.”

Master Vigneron Program Update
Master Vigneron Program Continues Pioneering Education

Lake County, CA – The inaugural class of the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s Mast Vigneron Program (MVP) has completed their education activities for the period, as it’s currently ‘all hands on deck’ for harvest. A graduation ceremony will take place later in the year. This program, which sits as part of the LCWC’s aggressive push towards sustainability in the vineyard, addresses the human capital portion of the equation.

The program gives participants, mainly vineyard forepersons, a broad-based education in the viticulture and viniculture industries. The goals of the program are to make better professionals who, in-turn, foster better quality and more effective vineyards. Additionally, it provides skill development that creates more valuable employees and gives them increased advancement opportunities.

In June, the MVP visited the Gallo facility in Sonoma where the group got a first-hand look at their vineyards and top-of-the-line crush pad. They also had the opportunity to see the Geyser Peak vineyard training demonstration block. In July, it was off to UC Davis for a tour of student vineyards guided by Prof. Andrew Walker. They then visited Davis’ Foundation Plant Services to learn about winegrape varietals and how they are handled for disease prevention and vineyard introduction. In August, it was all about Lake County – visiting various growing areas that included reviews of vineyard management techniques.

Currently, a new class is being recruited for this incredible opportunity. The program exposes students to many critical aspects of the industry. It gives them the chance to see things that most workers do not normally get to see, allowing them to make critical connections and develop a comprehensive understanding of the wine industry. For more information, contact Paul Zellman, Director of Education for the LCWC at

Wines With Altitude Wrap-Up
Lake County Wine Invasion of San Francisco Was a Great Time!

Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA – A great time was had by all at the 2nd Annual “Wines with Altitude” event held at the Winery SF on Treasure Island on Saturday, September 8th. The event showcased Lake County wines to interested consumers, many of whom were new to our terrific region. Guests were able to interact with growers, winemakers and others from the county.

More than 100 Lake County wines were on display along with lots of other treats. For example, Dave Rosenthal, a local grower and owner of the Yokayo winemaking facility in the county, brought some Sauvignon Blanc juice made from grapes harvested just a couple of days before the event. Julie Hoskins, from Chic Le Chef, a local private chef and caterer, was at the event with some excellent food pairings to tickle the palate.

Many of the attendees expressed surprise at the quality and value that Lake County has to offer on the wine front. One guest, who had never visited Lake’s wine country, was “shocked” to learn that many tasting rooms do not charge for tasting and she planned to make a trip right away. Of course, we were very happy to see the many folks who were familiar with our high-elevation terroir, great wine and terrific people. See you next year!

Visit our website for much more. Our website, which can be seen here, has much more information on our region, our winegrapes and all of our programs and activities.

Tell a friend. If you know someone who might be interested in our enewsletter and Lake County, please forward this edition onward. Also, more about us and our enewsletter sign-up can be found here

The Lake County Winegrowers


Produced by Dias Associates Consulting

Our mailing address is:

Lake County Winegrape Commission

PO Box 877

Lakeport, CA 95453

Copyright © 2012 Lake County Winegrape Commission All rights reserved.

AgVenture 2012 Off to a Great Start

October 2, 2012 • Elizabeth Larson

Lake County News

Diane Henderson explains how to size a pear for harvest during an AgVenture class. Photo by Terry Dereniuk.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The 2012 AgVenture program got off to a wonderful start on Aug. 24 with a day dedicated to the Lake County Pear industry.

Debra Sommerfield, Lake County’s deputy county administrative officer for economic development, set the stage by explaining the importance of agriculture in the Lake County economy. She was followed by a day of speakers and field trips.

Class members heard firsthand about the challenges and opportunities in growing pears from Diane Henderson of Henderson Orchards. This was followed by a visit to her orchards where harvest was in full swing.

Broc Zoller, The Pear Doctor, provided an in-depth look at the important role that research has played in helping growers combat orchard pests with more eco-friendly solutions.

Myron Holdenreid charmed the class with his knowledge of the history of the pear industry in Lake County.

Lunch was sponsored by Scully Packing and Adobe Creek Packing and prepared by the Saw Shop Gallery and Bistro.

Toni Scully joined the session as the lunch speaker to explain the packing shed operation. This was followed by an amazing tour of Scully Packing sheds which were in full operation packing pears.

After the tour, Pat Scully, general manager, Scully Packing Co., explained the marketing process for pears.

Jack King rounded out the day with a discussion about immigration and labor issues that impact the pear industry as well as agriculture as a whole.

Students in the class were clearly impressed with the day. One student wrote “Fantastic! Great information and completed the learning circle by actually seeing what the speakers were talking about.”

The second session of the AgVenture program focused on wine and winegrapes. The day started at Umpqua Bank with presentations from Kris Eutenier and Scott De Leon.

Eutenier gave an overview of the many responsibilities that the agriculture commissioner’s office covers including pesticide applicator licensing and reporting, invasive pest detection, and bioterrorism prevention in our food chain.

De Leon focused on water issues including the irrigated lands program and County work on improving Clear Lake.

During the field trip to Beckstoffer Vineyards, Glenn McGourty gave the class an informative lecture on the history of wine from ancient times to the current Lake County wine industry.

While enjoying the stunning view from the top of Beckstoffer Vineyards, the class heard from Eric Seely, deputy county administrative officer for special projects and Randy Krag, viticulturist for Beckstoffer Vineyards.

Seely explained the requirements for establishing a new vineyard and used his experience with Beckstoffer as an example. Krag discussed Integrated Pest Management in the vineyard.

Lunch was sponsored by the Lake County Winegrape Commission and prepared by Chic le Chef. Shannon Gunier, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, gave the class a quick lesson in the role of the commission in marketing grapes grown in the county.


AgVenture class members enjoy lunch at Vigilance Winery in the Cellar in Lower Lake, Calif. Photo by Terry Dereniuk.

The last stop of the day was at Gregory Graham Winery. Sitting at tables in the back of the winery, the class heard from Graham about the compliance requirements for a winery and then enjoyed a tour of his crush pad and barrel facility.

Two more AgVenture sessions are scheduled for 2012.

On Oct. 19, the class will reconvene at Riffe’s Meeting Room at the Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake. This session will focus on the walnut industry in Lake County.

Marc Hooper, pest control advisor with AgUnlimited, will address cultivation of both conventional and organic crops in Lake County.

Sky Hoyt, retail vegetable grower and part-time Mendocino College agriculture instructor, will talk about the challenges and opportunities as a fruit and vegetable grower and retail agriculture marketing channels.

Paula Bryant, vice president and commercial relationship manager for Umpqua Bank, will cover crop financing and lending practices.

Rick Coel, Lake County Community Development director, will review land use issues, the ag element of the county’s general plan, urban/ag interface, the Right to Farm ordinance, and value-added agricultural uses.

A tour of the Suchan Farm and Nursery, Upper Lake, and an overview of the walnut industry, including nursery, orchards, and dehydrator operations by Alex Suchan will conclude the day’s session.

The final AgVenture session for 2012 will be held on Nov. 9 at the Saw Shop Gallery and Bistro in Kelseyville.

Sen. Noreen Evans will address the class and talk about the legislative perspective on agriculture in California and the impact of invasive pests.

Other presenters for this session will include Emilo dela Cruz, mill master for Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, and Jennifer Keithly of Keithly Ranches, Kelseyville. Field trips are included with both presentations.


Linda Hedstrom introduces Greg Graham as the next speaker at an AgVenture session. Photo by Terry Dereniuk.

Members of the 2012 class include: Rob Brown, Lake County supervisor; Bernie Butcher, owner, Tallman Hotel; Judy Cortesi, retired small business owner; Linda Hedstrom, housing and economic development manager; Lori Holmes, renal dietician and school board member; and Tibor Major, attorney.

The class also includes; Stacey Mattina, owner, Konocti Realty and mayor of Lakeport; Gary Olson, broker/owner, Big Valley Properties; Matt Perry, interim county administrative officer, Lake County; Fr. Ron Serban, pastor, St. Mary Immaculate Parish; Rebecca Southwick, development/public relations officer, Sutter Lakeside Hospital; and Claudia Street, executive director, Lake County Farm Bureau.

Generous sponsors for the 2012 series of seminars include the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Adobe Creek Packing, Scully Packing Co., Umpqua Bank, the Lake County Farm Bureau, the Lake County Winery Association, and the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program.

Additional support has been provided by Saw Shop Gallery and Bistro, Tallman Hotel, Gregory Graham Winery, Chacewater Wine and Olive Mill, Vigilance Vineyards, Lake Parts, Lakeport Tire & Auto, Broc and Sharon Zoller, Mark Dellinger, Margaret Silveira and Terry Dereniuk.

Transportation for the field trips and site visits is being provided by the Military Funeral Honors Team van with support from the Kelseyville Olive Festival.

The AgVenture program coordinator is Terry Dereniuk, a graduate of the 2010 AgVenture program. Members of her steering committee are Annette Hopkins, president of the Lake County Chapter, California Women for Agriculture; Paula Bryant; Shannon Gunier; Toni Scully; Diane Henderson; and Michelle Scully.

More information about California Women for Agriculture is available by writing to P.O. Box 279, Finley, CA 95435 or visiting them on Facebook at Lake County California Women for Agriculture or on the web at .


Lake County Winegrowers Sustainable eNews – October 2012

Welcome to our next edition of the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program eNewsletter.

In this edition, we feature how sustainability connects to quality and a call for new student applications for the Master Vigneron Program…Sustainability & Quality in the Vineyard – Good Fruit, Good BusinessLake County, CA – Currently, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is studying the connections between sustainability and quality in the vineyard. There is still much to be determined. However, certain aspects of sustainability, that may be less obvious as part of the process, definitely affect quality. Sustainability is not just about using less herbicide or pesticide, for example. It’s also about more traditional aspects of good vineyard management.

It may not be what you would expect to think of pruning methods and management to be part of the sustainability regime, but balanced vines are an integral part. Of course, pruning is a fundamental tool in facilitating balanced vines – controlling vigor, fruit development and canopy management. Understanding the best approaches to pruning throughout the year given your terroir and your varietal, is critical to success.

It also relates to the business-side of sustainability – getting good yields and good quality, obviously, relates to the profitability of your vineyard. Connected to this is establishing a reputation for professionalism and excellence that positively affects your bottom line. Participating in the process to become certified sustainable addresses these issues as part of the program and its assessments. It’s a comprehensive approach that has curb appeal, but is also practical in management approach and beneficial to your pocketbook. In this case, good pruning leads to good fruit, which is good business.

At the moment, CSWA and the Lake County Winegrape Commission are offering tremendous incentives to participate in becoming certified sustainable. To find out more and take advantage of these rebates and other resources, please contact Paul Zellman at

Master Vigneron Program Looking for 2013 Candidates

Lake County, CA – The highly successful Master Vigneron Program (MVP) is now recruiting participants for its second class. We have approximately 10 openings for the next group through a competitive application process. We are looking for vineyard workers, primarily those in leadership roles (though identification of qualified candidates who have demonstrated an increasing ability to lead and manage are also encouraged to apply), to apply for the program. Some experience is desirable, though long-time tenure is not a requirement.

We are looking for candidates who would benefit from the course and become more valuable employees through this unique curriculum. If you have an employee or know of someone who has demonstrated ability and shows promise for development in the industry and would like to nominate them, please contact LCWC Education Director, Paul Zellman.

The Master Vigneron Program exposes students to broader aspects of the wine industry including vineyard management, human resources, winemaking, industry trends and much more. The deadline to apply is November 1st.


Sustainable Winegrowing Program

To learn more about the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program please visit our website’s program page here.

There is more information on the program, our goals for a sustainable future in our vineyards and how Lake County is a regional leader in sustainability. Check it out and get involved!

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Get Involved…

Are you interested in participating in the program and becoming a certified sustainable vineyard? If so, the Lake County Winegrape Commission and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance are offering terrific incentives, including rebates and support resources to lessen both the cost and time it takes to be a part of it. The LCWC can provide assistance and more information. Please contact Paul Zellman, Education Director, at for more information…



Copyright © 2012 Lake County Winegrape Commission, All rights reserved.


September 2012 • Deborah Parker Wong / photos by Casey Carney

The Tasting Panel

If you’ve got it, flaunt it and when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County winegrowers have reason to strut their stuff. With the 2011 vintage, producers reached a high-water mark in their efforts to develop Sauvignon Blanc as a signature varietal. Expressive, pitch-perfect fruit allowed winemakers to showcase their understanding of high-elevation white winegrowing and marry it with a broad range of winemaking styles.

In 2011, flavors were dialed in by a cool spring that held yields down by 30 percent, but thanks to a picking window stretched out by one of the region’s latest harvests, the vintage was characterized as being riper than in preceding years. Pristine fruit resulted in
elevated wine quality with notes of white peach and stone fruit adding complexity to many of the mineral and citrus-driven flavor profiles found here.

Style becomes one of the key differentiators when overall wine quality peaks across a growing region. Winemaking techniques favored by various Lake County producers include the use of multiple yeast strains for building complexity, extended lees aging for texture and varying percentages of new French oak. During a recent blind tasting of fifteen 2011 Sauvignon Blancs, we found something to please everyone—with the majority of wines retailing under the $20 mark.

Bell Cellars Sauvignon Blanc ($22) Almost creamy aromas with notes of peach and lemon custard, fully structured mid-palate with subtle stone fruit finish.
Briceland Sauvignon Blanc ($16) Shows lychee and white peach aromas with rich, mineral-driven flavors and a broad finish of yellow peach.

Chacewater Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99) Crisp, herbal aromas, a hint of petrol and intense gooseberry flavors make for a New World style that gains character from time on the lees.


Gregory Graham Sauvignon Blanc ($16) Delicate Asian pear and white fruit aromas intensify on a silky mid-palate that has added texture from whole-cluster pressing and a lifted, citrus finish.

Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc ($16) Exuberant floral and tropical fruit aromas with broad, bright flavors of peach and citrus.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc ($10) Aromas of citrus and a touch of jalapeño with layers of light, tropical fruit flavors and fuller Semillon-like weight on the palate.

Robledo Family Sauvignon Blanc ($22) Quite ripe with complex, attractive aromas of stone fruit, citrus and garrigue; fuller-bodied with similar flavors on the palate.

Rock Wall Sauvignon Blanc ($18) Bright stone fruit cobbler aromas with lighter, Chenin Blanc– like peach and orange flavors that carry through the finish.

Shannon Ridge Sauvignon Blanc ($18.99) Melon- and citrus-driven aromas with greener melon and honeydew flavors through a clean finish.

Shed Horn Cellars Sauvignon Blanc ($15) Savory, mineral-infused citrus aromas with complex Meyer lemon and gunflint flavors creating a distinct fumé-like style.

Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc ($12) Three different yeasts are used to achieve intense floral and citrus zest aromas and clean, balanced flavors that burst on the mid palate.

Six Sigma Sauvignon Blanc ($16) Citrus and delicate tropical fruit aromas with orange and stone fruit flavors and a fuller body from the addition of 20 percent new oak.


Vigilance Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99) Aromas of honeydew and pear
with underlying grassier notes and clean melon and citrus flavors.

Wildhurst Sauviignon Blanc ($14) Subtle notes of orange flower and stone pave the way for a crisp wave of stone fruit on the finish.