History of the Lake County Wine Industry

History of the Lake County Wine Industry

Winemakers by the score are discovering the bounty of Lake County’s agriculturally rich valley, which surrounding ancient Clear Lake and the rocky red volcanic soil around Mt. Konocti, a dormant volcano in the Pacific Rim chain. The first Lake County vineyards were planted in the 1870s. By 1900 Lake County wines were winning awards in international competition, and the region was earning a reputation for producing some of the world’s greatest wines.

However, in 1920 Prohibition forced an end to Lake County wine production. Most of the vineyards were eventually ripped out and planted with other crops.

Lake County’s re-emergence in the wine industry began in the 1960s when a few visionary growers discovered the area’s wine grape potential and began planting new vineyards. From less than 100 acres in 1965, vineyard acreage has grown to over 8,338 acres today and is expected to double in the next few years. With the growing popularity of Lake County wines, Lake County’s grape and wine industry continues to expand. Existing wineries are growing, and new vintners are moving into the region. Today the county has over 20 wineries. Several out-of-county wineries, including Treasury Wine Estates, Kendall-Jackson, Constellation Brands Inc. and Sutter Home, own Lake County vineyards.

How fast is Lake County re-emerging as one of the wine industry’s fastest growing regions? The animated photo at the left documents the development of the Beckstoffer Vineyards & Red Hills Vineyard Company’s Amber Knolls Vineyard from planting in the spring of 1999 to the initial harvest in 2000.

Included in California’s prestigious North Coast American Viticultural Area, Lake County is a region whose quality can stand on its own. Unique geographical factors such as the microclimates, soil types, and Clear Lake all contribute to the growing of outstanding grapes. Our fine wines and quality fruit are rapidly re-establishing Lake County’s reputation for producing excellent wines. Lake County wines are consistent award winners at major wine competitions and have been enjoyed at the White House.

The Lake County Winegrape Commission has also contributed to the success enjoyed by Lake County Vintners. Being one of four winegrape commissions in the state of California, Lake County growers are committed to the success of their product from the vineyards, to the winery and in the marketplace. Established in 1990, the commission supports and manages the marketing efforts of grape growers in Lake County.

Quality grapes and quality marketing. In Lake County vineyards and at Lake County wineries, the future is now.