Lake County Winegrape Commission Showcases Region’s Wines and Winegrape Growers

Event Guest List Included Influencers in Media, Restaurants, Retail and Distribution

Kelseyville, Calif. May 22, 2015 – The Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) today announced a successful trade event intended to bring greater awareness to the region’s winegrape growers and wineries. The event took place on May 14 and May 15 and included media writers, wine distributors, retailers and restaurant sommeliers. Guests participated in an immersive experience that included a tour of several distinguished vineyards, two extensive tastings with multiple flights showcasing Lake County-appellated wines and a presentation that examined the unique character, breadth and quality of Lake County winegrapes and wines.

The event is part of a series of trade activities that engages key influencers within the wine industry and exposes them to Lake County wines, vineyards, appellations and breathtaking landscape. These events fit within the Commission’s mission to implement effective marketing, education and research programs on behalf of Lake County winegrape growers. Events like this one introduce the region to individuals in the industry who typically have spent little to no time in Lake County and provide them with a memorable experience they can share with colleagues, readers, followers and consumers.

Peter Molnar and Joy Merrilees present deep dive presentation

Peter Molnar and Joy Merrilees lead guests through a “deep dive” on Lake County winemaking at Obsidian Ridge Vineyard.

“Our ability to show our appellation and our work at this level to writers, sommeliers and the trade is critical to bringing Lake County’s reputation for wines on par with Sonoma and Napa,” said Peter Molnar, outgoing LCWC Chairman and co-founder of Obsidian Ridge Vineyards located in the Red Hills Lake County AVA. “Every one of our guests, to a person, raved about the professional and friendly hosting and the breadth and depth of the experience. Each one remarked at how much they learned about our region and how exciting the wines and momentum are.”

Guests included several wine writers whose articles appear in the San Francisco Chronicle, Decanter, Vineyard & Winery Management, The Tasting Panel and SOMM Journal, as well as online, including the Jancis Robinson web site; representatives from Swirl Wine Brokers, a wine distributor in the Bay Area, and Garber & Co., a wine distributor in Southern California; retailers from Bay Grape in Oakland, K&L Wine Merchants in the Bay Area and Los Angeles and Solano Cellars in Albany and Berkeley; and sommeliers from San Francisco’s One Market, Nopa and soon-to-open wine bar Pivot, as well as Napa Valley’s Press.

Lake County winemakers and growers were on hand throughout the day and evening, offering an opportunity for guests to connect and converse with the people behind the wines. “Events like this are very illuminating,” said Kelli White, sommelier at Press. “They create an intimacy and a relationship between the wine buyer and the product, the place and the people. This is very eye opening. We were won over by this experience.”

Added Scott Brenner, also from Press: “These wines deserve recognition. They’re terrific. They have everything a sommelier is looking for. They’ve got structure, they’ve got acidity, they’ve got freshness. Now it’s just a matter of getting them into a sommelier’s hands.”

Agenda Designed to Provide Interactive, Immersive Experience

Most guests arrived by turbo-prop plane from Oakland into the Lampson Field Airport, northwest of Kelseyville. This approach provided them an aerial view of the region and a valuable perspective of the vineyards tucked among the Mayacama mountain range, which runs north along the western edge of Napa Valley and into southwestern Lake County. Guests traveled by chauffeured SUV to Vigilance Winery & Vineyards in the Red Hills AVA, where Bay Grape owner Josiah Baldivino led guests through a tasting of white wines produced from Lake County grapes.

Guests gather at Vigilance Winery and Vineyards May 2015

Guests, winemakers and growers gather at Vigilance Winery & Vineyards prior to a tasting of Lake County white wines.

After a seasonal lunch catered by Chic Le Chef, guests toured through E&J Gallo’s Snows Lake Vineyard and up to Obsidian Ridge Vineyard, where Molnar gave a presentation on the characteristics that make Lake County unique among winegrowing regions. His talk was a “deep dive” on the region and focused on the important contributions to wine quality from elevation, soil, air quality and sun exposure. Joy Merrilees, Director of Winemaking at Shannon Ridge Family of Wines, shared insights into the nature of winemaking with the quality fruit grown in Lake County. The next stop was Beckstoffer Vineyards, also in the Red Hills AVA, where soil scientist Randy Krag spoke about the sustainable approach many Lake County winegrape growers follow, particularly in areas such as water conservation.

This tour of key vineyards across the Red Hills appellation was intended to complement the aerial overview with a ground-level perspective of the mountains and rolling hills that make up the Lake County high-elevation winegrowing region.

The final stop of the day was the Tallman Hotel, where dinner was prepared by guest chef Louis Maldonado from Spoonbar in Healdsburg. The evening included several flights of red wines made from Lake County winegrapes, curated by White and Brenner of Press. Guests stayed overnight at the Tallman Hotel and departed by plane the next morning.

Lake County red wine flights at Tallman Hotel May 2015

Dinner at the Tallman Hotel featured three flights of red wines produced from Lake County winegrapes.

“This event was designed to deliver an unparalleled experience of Lake County’s high-elevation winegrowing region from above, on the ground and within the vineyard,” said Debra Sommerfield, Lake County Winegrape Commission President. “Our guests were carefully selected influencers whom we believe will use this experience to help share the excitement of a region on the rise.”


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