Lake County Reds on the Rise

Wine Spectator

Jan. 31 – Feb. 28, 2014

Lake County Reds on the Rise

Remote and bucolic. Lake County has been known for two things: producing good-value Sauvignon Blancs and serving as a backup grape source for Napa and Sonoma. But that’s changing. The region is making a name for itself with well-structured red wines.

Located just north of Napa Valley, the viticultural region centers around Clear Lake, an ancient body of water that sits nearly 1,400 feet above sea level. Mountains formed by both volcanic and tectonic forces surround it. The terrior that results is distinguished by a variety of soils, ranging from gravelly rock to iron-rich volcanic dirt, as well as a climate marked by toasty warm days and dramatically chilly nights in summer.

The first grapes were planted in the 1870s, a time when Lake County was a popular tourist destination for wealthy San Franciscans because of its many hot springs.Today,there are about 8,380 acres of vineyards planted in five American Viticultural Areas-Clear Lake, Benmore Valley,Guenoc Valley,High Valley and Red Hills Lake County, the last of which has shown the most promise for red wines.

There are only a few dozen wineries in Lake County,most small and family-owned. Some brands,such as Steele,Shannon Ridge and Langtry Estate,are sold nationally,while others cater to a mostly regional market.

Many producers outside the county continue to use Lake County juice (a Napa Valley Cabernet,for example,can contain up to 15 percent from another region),many are increasingly bottling Lake County-designated wines.Those include Cakebread,Bonterra, De Loach and France’s Stephane Derenon­ court,who makes wine in Napa.

90 De Loach Zinfandel Lake County Nova  $32
Vineyard Designate 2010

90 Derenoncourt Cabernet Sauvignon      $45
Red Hills Lake County Red Hills
Vineyard 2009

89 Cakebread Zinfandel Red Hills               $30
Lake County 2010

89 Peter Franus Red Red Hills                    $30
Lake County 2009

88 Chacewater Petite Sirah Red Hills          $18
Lake County 2010

88  Rock Wall Obsidian Red Hills                 $22
Lake County 2010

87 Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon     $28
Red Hills Lake County Obsidian Ridge
Vineyard 2010






    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays 4:00 pm
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays @ The Mercantile
    Jul 17 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays @ The Mercantile
    You are invited to attend the Grower Conversation series hosted by Lake County Winegrowers. This series aims to connect growers, buyers, and industry experts to discuss the climate of today’s market. Each conversation will feature[...]
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