December 2023 Newsletter

Black and white vineyard photo, Big Valley AVA, Quercus Ranch

In This Issue…

Lake County Winegrowers Celebrate Addition of Two New AVAs
2023 Harvest Recap
Lake County Wines Poured in San Diego
News from Industry Partners
Lake County Wines & Vines in the News
Grape & Wine Marketplace
Weather & Climate Report

Lake County Winegrowers Promote Addition of Region’s Two Newest AVAs

Upper Lake Valley AVA v vineyards with mountains in background

Excerpt from recent LCWC press release: 

“Lake County continues to raise the bar of quality wine production in California and welcomes two recently approved AVAs, the Long Valley-Lake County AVA, and the Upper Lake Valley AVA.

The approval of the two new AVAs is one of many recent achievements for the Lake County region. This high-elevation, mountainous region of the prestigious North Coast AVA is gaining traction as the market looks for high-end, California wines at an accessible price point. With its volcanic terroir, the region is being recognized for its capacity to produce quality winegrapes that result in wines that are complex and distinct. The wines offer great aromatic and flavor intensity alongside noticeable aging potential. The region has become a go-to source for high-end Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Read the full press release.

2023 Harvest Recap

Winegrape producers throughout Lake County completed an exceptional harvest that started later than usual, lasted longer than usual, and produced flavorful berries that exceed the already high quality of recent years. Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, the region’s most grown varieties, reflected normal to increased yields compared to prior years.

“Brix increased gradually, allowing the phenolics to develop steadily,” said Pedro Rubio, General Manager of Beckstoffer Vineyards – Red Hills. Rubio noted, “The outstanding growing season allowed an extended hang time for the vines. This year’s almost perfect climate produced fully ripe fruit with character and depth. In my opinion, this could be a remarkable vintage. I am looking forward to the winemakers’ feedback.”

Jonathan Walters, General Manager of Brassfield Estate Winery, remarked, “Brassfield had one of the best vintages in recent history. The cool, wet spring led to a slow start to the season, but ample sun exposure during the summer months provided ideal growing conditions.”

Pilar Luchsinger White, Owner of Luchsinger Vineyards, noted, “Quality was elevated this year since we did not see any major frost events, heat spikes, or significant rain during harvest season. Lake County is fortunate not to experience any significant fog throughout the year, so mildew or rot was not an issue if proper intervals were adhered to.”

Lake County Wines Poured in San Diego

LCWC tent at the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival

Lake County had a more prominent presence than ever at the 2023 San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. Seven wineries and Visit Lake County joined LCWC for the weekend’s festivities, along with Lake County’s musical duo Austin & Owens.

The Friday night VIP event attracted consumers and several members of the trade. At the Saturday Grand Tasting where thousands enjoyed the beautiful weather, the Lake County tent was full of southern California locals eager to experience Lake County wines and hospitality.

Thank you to the following wineries that participated:

Brassfield Estate | Cache Creek Vineyards | Chacewater Winery | Dancing Crow Vineyards | Hawk & Horse Vineyards | Shannon Family of Wines | Wild Diamond Vineyards

Collage of wineries at San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

News from CDFA & Wine Institute:

Call for Applications for the 10th Annual California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards

California vineyards and wineries are encouraged to apply for the prestigious 2024 California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards. Applications are now being accepted at through January 12, 2024, for the 10th annual awards, which are widely recognized throughout the wine industry.

News From California Land Stewardship Institute (CLSI) and Fish Friendly Farming:

Agriculture & Climate Conference

Experts will present information on weather predictions, heat-adapted variety plantings, water management and conservation practices, fire management techniques, and how to incorporate best management practices to mitigate challenges and evolve with a changing climate.

Wednesday, January 17

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404



News from Visit Lake County:

Visit LC group at Visit California

Lake County was recently in the spotlight as distinguished community members and Lake County Tourism District representatives went to Sacramento to share the distinct attributes of the region at the Visit California North Coast Destination Mixer. The event was designed to educate Visit California staff and partners about the state’s unique “hidden gems” represented by Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake, and Del Norte Counties. It provided each region an opportunity to showcase what they do best. Lake County presenters included local limnologist Angel DePalma-Dow from Lake County Water Resources Department, who spoke about the unique qualities of Clear Lake and surrounding waterways; Joy Merrilees, vice president at Shannon Family of Wines, who focused on Lake County’s volcanic wine; and Melinda Price, co-owner of Peace and Plenty Farm in Kelseyville, who spoke about Lake County’s rich agricultural heritage and small farms producing niche crops.

LCWC Grape Marketplace


In the market for bulk wine? Visit the Marketplace page of the LCWC website for an up-to-date list of Lake County bulk wine and grapes available for sale.

In the News

Lake County Wine in the News Banner

Breaking Barrels, Part 2: Women in the Sonoma and Lake County Wine World

Editor’s note: Full article is posted on Wine Review Online.

Miranda Franco recently interviewed Joy Merrilees of Shannon Family of Wines about her wine industry background, professional goals, and community involvement.

“Joy Merrilees, with a career spanning over two decades, is a driving force behind the success of the Shannon Family of Wines in Lake County. She has a B.S. in Plant Science and Landscape Design from Humboldt State University and continued her formal education through winemaking courses at Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand, and the extension program at the University of California, Davis. For years, Lake County served as sources of affordable grapes for its southern sisters, Napa and Sonoma. However, now the region is establishing its own identity. As Vice President of Production, Joy has played a pivotal role in producing wines that reflect the unique terroir of Lake County, California. Further, her commitment to sustainable farming practices and environmental stewardship has earned the winery acclaim and established it as a beacon of responsible viticulture in the industry.”

Read the full interview.

Exceptional Wines for Your New Year’s Eve Celebration

Editor’s note: Full article is posted on Home Business’ website.

“The Shannon Family of Wines encompasses more than 2,000 acres of mountainous terrain, with approximately half devoted to vineyards. In understanding the challenges to the Earth’s climate, they converted over 1,000 acres into a regenerative organic farming system, minimizing their environmental footprint. Clay Shannon is a notable guide to the enchanting landscape of the secluded Californian realm, adorned with lakes and volcanic mountains. Nestled on the north slope of High Valley, within Franciscan soils, a petite 2.7-acre parcel thrives at the heart of Betsy’s Vineyard. Here, 30+-year-old vines yield petite clusters of the tantalizing Petite Sirah grape. The Clay Shannon Ovis Petite Sirah, a luscious red wine, emanates captivating aromas of dried blueberries, accompanied by subtle notes of Dutch chocolate and vanilla. On the palate, it unfolds into a burst of concentrated fruit, earthy dried herbs, oats, molasses, and warm spices, leaving a lingering and satisfying finish.”

Read full article.

Congratulations to these Lake County wines, which Wine Enthusiast reviewed:

  • Vie Winery 2019 L’Imaginaire Grenache, 90 Points
  • Six Sigma Ranch 2019 Else’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 91 Points
  • Pestoni Family 2020 Pestoni Family Quackenbush Mountain Vineyard Petite Sirah, 92 Points
  • Outlier 2022 Pinot Noir, 90 Points
  • Meeker 2021 La Sierra Vineyard, Block 8 Mourvèdre, 90 Points
  • Fly By 2020 Zinfandel, 90 Points

Weather Banner

Weather & Climate

View December report from Dr. Gregory Jones.


    LCWC Finance Committee Meeting 10:00 am
    LCWC Finance Committee Meeting @ Video Conference
    Jun 13 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
    Agenda – LCWC Finance Committee Meeting, June 13, 2024
    LCWC Executive Committee Meeting 2:00 pm
    LCWC Executive Committee Meeting @ LCWC Office
    Jun 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
    Agenda – LCWC Executive Committee Meeting, June 25, 2024
    LCWC Board Meeting 3:00 pm
    LCWC Board Meeting @ LCWC Office
    Jun 25 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    Agenda – LCWC Board Meeting, June 25, 2024
    Soil Health and Irrigation Water Management 7:30 am
    Soil Health and Irrigation Water Management @ Thomas Mauritson Vineyards
    Jun 26 @ 7:30 am – 11:30 am
    Soil Health and Irrigation Water Management @ Thomas Mauritson Vineyards
    In-the-Vineyard Tailgate Session for Spanish -Speaking Vineyard Workers LEARN HOW TO… Assess, restore, and maintain soil health Implement sustainable farming practices Develop irrigation management plans Event Details Wednesday, June 26, 2024 7:30 a.m. – 11:30[...]
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays 4:00 pm
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays @ The Mercantile
    Jun 26 @ 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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