April 2023 Newsletter
In This Issue…
Webinar Recap: Strategies for Effective Water Stewardship
Coming Early June: Momentum 2023
Grape & Wine Marketplace
Lake County Wines & Vines in the News
Weather & Climate Report
Affiliate Sponsor: American AgCredit
Webinar Recordings Now Available: Strategies for Effective Water Stewardship
The Lake County Winegrape Commission virtually hosted a line-up of speakers on March 16 to share effective methods of water stewardship for the upcoming growing season. The speakers covered best management practices for frost protection, irrigation, and protection of Clear Lake hitch, as well as water use efficiency tools and resources.
All recordings also can be found on the LCWC website.
This must-attend annual seminar for Lake County winegrowers returns in early June. Details coming soon…
For an up-to-date list of Lake County grapes and bulk wine for sale, visit the Marketplace page of the LCWC website.
Grapes for Sale
100 tons 2023 Sauvignon Blanc, Big Valley District, Clone 1, Certified Sustainable by CSWA, Jaime Rosas: 707-262-2899
In the News
A Cut Above: Global Pruning School Comes to Lake County
Just north of Napa County and Mendocino lies a lesser-known wine region, Lake County, which is a part of the North Coast AVA. Influenced by elevation (at 1,200 feet), volcanic soil, and proximity to Clear Lake, the largest inland body of water in California, the vines in Lake County benefit from a large diurnal swing and lots of daytime sunshine. The result? Grapes with thick skins and high phenolics – in other words, that winning combination of tannins and acid that leads to great wines.
With vineyards dating back to pre-prohibition and then reemerging in the 1960’s, the region has catapulted to success over the past 30 years. Today, with approximately 30 wineries and nearly 10,000 acres under vine, Lake County is quickly developing a reputation for producing bright and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Syrah, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc. And now the wine region is establishing itself as an innovator in other ways: developing a first-of-its-kind program that not only aims to benefit the region’s vines, but the region’s people as well.
The Lake County Winegrape Commission has recognized a need to further enhance the region’s already high quality of fruit; and, from a sustainability aspect, increase the longevity of both the vines and community. By partnering with the global company Simonit & Sirch to create the inaugural Lake County Pruning School, they’ve created a program intended to educate, increase sustainability, and ultimately enhance the quality of Lake County wine grapes…Read full article.
Precision Irrigation Helping Save Precious Resource for This California Vineyard
Editor’s note: This article appeared on GrowingProduce.com.
Jonathan Walters knows he’s lucky as a grower, being able to farm 500 acres of vineyard at a high elevation above a scenic lake in Northern California. The General Manager of Brassfield Estate Winery in Clearlake Oaks also knows he’s facing difficulties, as the vineyards are on steep slopes, have a wide variety of soils, and include a total of 18 wine grape varieties.
“It’s both a blessing and a curse — more of a challenge, really,” he says, gazing at the tremendous views above Clear Lake.
Located northeast of San Francisco, Clear Lake is the largest natural lake in California, stretching for nearly 20 miles parallel to the Pacific Ocean, about 40 miles away. The winery sits on rolling hills covering a total of 5,000 acres, with the rest of the land to remain natural, as the owner wishes.
The land is located in the High Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). This is a highly unusual AVA in that it’s located in a transverse valley, which, unlike most valleys, has an east/west orientation and is a big advantage in producing great fruit because of its effect on the winery’s conditions.
Walters says that during most of the growing season, the state’s Central Valley gets hot, routinely in the ’90s in the afternoons, and that pulls the breeze coming from the ocean to the west across the vineyards.
“It’s like a giant air conditioner gets turned on every day,” he says, smiling…Read full article.
California’s Ban on Pesticides by 2050 Sees the State’s Wineries Embracing ‘Slow Wine’
Editor’s note: This article appeared on Decanter.com.
Situated on the ridges of volcanic soil at higher elevations in Northern California’s Lake County wine region, Clay Shannon of Shannon Family of Wines operates over 1,000 organic acres of vineyards and is passionate about the environment.
The good shepherd
Although he is in his fifth year of farming organically, the lifelong vineyard manager and wine producer is bringing significant changes to this under-the-radar wine region with “woolly feeders.”
“We have to put some footprints in the vineyards, an old term people have forgotten about,” said Shannon, who grew up on his grandparent’s sheep farm in Sonoma County. He is also referring to the impact of humans on the earth’s ecosystem.
His sheep are at the heart of the winery’s regenerative agriculture approach and also of his appropriately named “Ovis” label.
“These are smart animals; they are delicate on the land, and they do a good job keeping the grass down and the understory of the oak forest clean,” said Shannon. His flock of 1,700 sheep graze the vineyard rows thrice yearly to control the weeds that fight for the vines’ water and nutrients. Employing sheep also promotes carbon sequestration in vineyards and provides natural regulation of disease and pests.
“Sheep add fertility to the land,” added Shannon. “Five pounds (2.2 Kg) per day, per animal.”
Reintegrating farm animals into crop production yields considerable benefits. Tractor usage is reduced as sheep hooves integrate manure into the soil. Shannon explains that the sheep control the weeds by eating grass and vine leaves, providing 20% protein. Ewes produce milk for lambs, and the pasture-raised meat is sold.
“This is what we call sustainability,” he said…Read full article.
Wine Pick of the Week: Rosé, Arnot-Roberts, California 2022
Editor’s note: This article appeared on Napa Valley Register.com.
We’re happy to finally see a little sun, and with spring here we’re ready to talk rosé!
Arnot-Roberts is one of our favorite California producers, and we love supporting their dry, crisp, springy rosé every year when it drops. The core of the wine is Touriga Nacional, a grape better known for sweet, fortified wine production in Portugal’s Douro Valley — but here it’s all vibrancy and lift. The Portuguese theme carries through with a little Tinta Cão and Trincadeira in the blend.
Nathan Roberts and Duncan Arnot Meyers have been leading the charge for the “new California” style for years. It’s not so new anymore, but they remain one of our favorite purveyors of fresher wines and more restrained styles in California.
The 2021 is mostly from Luchsinger Vineyard in Lake County and composed of Touriga Nacional, Gamay, Tinto Cão and Grenache. Full of peppery watermelon rind flavors, this should be a poolside and barbecue staple from spring onward.
Congratulations to the Lake County wines that received high marks at the North Coast Wine Challenge.
Robledo 2021 Selección Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Hills) was named “Best of Lake County” and also received Best of Class and Double Gold.
- Chacewater 2022 Chardonnay, Gold
- Chacewater 2019 Malbec, Gold
- Clay Shannon 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, Double Gold
- Dancing Crow Vineyards 2021 Corbeau Rusé, Gold
- Dancing Crow Vineyards 2022 Farmer’s Cuvée, Best of Class, Double Gold
- Dancing Crow Vineyards 2021 Old Stake 1901 – Old Vine “Field Blend” (Kelsey Bench), Gold
- Lost Hog 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, Gold
- Maker Wine Company 2021 Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, Gold
Congratulations to these Lake County wines, which Wine Enthusiast recently reviewed:
- Clay Shannon 2021 El Coyote Chardonnay, 90 Points
- Motif 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Hills), 90 Points, Best Buy
- Ovis 2021 Sauvignon Blanc (High Valley), 92 Points, Editors’ Choice
- Ron McGinnis 2016 AK Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Hills), 93 Points, Cellar Selection
- Six Sigma Ranch 2021 Michael’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 90 Points
Weather & Climate
View April 2023 report from Dr. Gregory Jones.
Affiliate Sponsor: American AgCredit
Starting last November, American AgCredit began offering Terrain, a team of analysts and economists who provide insights on economic factors, trends, and markets. Terrain’s senior wine and grape analyst, Dr. Chris Bitter, has published his first outlook, “2022 Grape Crush: Don’t Bet Too Heavily on a Repeat Performance.”
In the outlook he writes, “Pricing was up across the state in 2022. The average price per ton rose in 15 of 17 districts.” Read the outlook online for his thoughts on consumer wine demand and what could happen with prices if grape yields return to the four million-ton normal.
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