June 2017 Newsletter

Beckstoffer Crimson Ridge by Nathan DeHart

“This is a special area, and I think we as a grower community are proving that, as the reputation for superior quality of the fruit and wines produced here continues to expand.”

— Ron Bartolucci (Bartolucci Vineyards)

In This Issue…

Visiting Sommeliers Impressed by Lake County
Lake County Wines in the News
Master Vigneron Academy™ Helps Lake County Retain Workers
Viticulture Classes at Mendocino College
CAWG Summer Conference and PAC Golf Tournament
Grower Spotlight: Bernie Luchsinger & Pilar Luchsinger White
Growing a Winegrape Crop Isn’t Work for Ron Bartolucci
Grape & Wine Marketplace
Agriculture Census 2017
Sunridge Nurseries Innovates
Weather & Climate Report

Lake County Somm Camp 2017 group photo, by Nathan DeHart

Visiting Somms Impressed by Lake County

“You know it was a good trip when you are a little sad to see it end. Many thanks to the Lake County Winegrape Growers and The Somm Journal for a wonderful tour of Lake County wine country. I am not sure what I loved more, the wines or the community that creates and promotes them. This is a very special place.” — Dawn Smith @sommgirl98112

For three days in early June, 16 sommeliers from major restaurants in Chicago, Seattle, Las Vegas, New York City, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area attended Lake County SOMM Camp. This event offered a unique opportunity to provide key influencers in the wine trade with a first-hand experience of the region’s wines, winemakers, winegrape growers, stunning landscape, and burgeoning food-and-wine scene.

Attendees toured vineyards across several Lake County subappellations; talked with grape growers and winemakers; visited wineries; participated in technical tastings of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and other varietals; and listened to educational presentations from leaders in the Lake County wine industry, including vineyard-owner and US Congressman Mike Thompson.

“Events like SOMM Camp highlight the finest qualities of Lake County — the beautiful landscape, the great food, and of course the exceptional wines,” said Peter Molnar (of Obsidian Ridge), who believes it to be a critical time for the region. “Eyes are turning to Lake County,” he said, emphasizing the growing interest in the region, the recognition that truly interesting and distinctive wines are being produced here, and the importance of building a genuine narrative to differentiate the Lake County wine industry.

Mark Burch & David Weiss at Lake County Somm Camp Mark Burch (Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill) and David Weiss (Bella Vista Farming Company) explain canopy management in Sauvignon Blanc Vineyards to visiting sommeliers  

Lake County Wine in the News Banner, microphone with six glasses of white wine set up for technical tasting

Lake County Wines in the News

Congratulations to these Lake County wines, which Wine Enthusiast recently rated a score of 90 points or better:

  • Six Sigma Ranch 2011 Else’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: 93 points, Cellar Selection
  • Six Sigma Ranch 2012 Else’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: 93 points, Cellar Selection
  • Chacewater 2014 Teal Bartolucci Vineyards Big Valley Ranch Made With Organically Grown Grapes Chardonnay: 93 points, Editors’ Choice
  • Shannon 2013 Reserve Two Bud Block Zinfandel: 92 points, Editors’ Choice
  • Six Sigma Ranch 2015 Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc: 91 points, Editors’ Choice
  • Langtry 2014 Temphra Ridge Vineyard Petit Verdot: 91 points, Cellar Selection
  • Steele 2013 Cabernet Franc: 91 points, Editors’ Choice
  • Shannon Ridge 2015 Red Hills Ranch Reserve Chardonnay: 91 points
  • Chacewater 2013 Malbec: 90 points, Editors’ Choice
  • Vigilance 2016 Sauvignon Blanc: 90 points, Editors’ Choice
  • High Valley 2014 High Valley Barbera: 90 points
  • Steele 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon: 90 points

Master Vigneron Academy™ Helps Lake County Retain Workers

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Wine Institute in the June issue of Down to Earth, a monthly newsletter celebrating the commitment of California vintners and growers to sustainable winegrowing and winemaking; it includes an interview with Randy Krag and Paul Zellman.

Master Vigeron AcademyTM logoSince its inception in 2012, Lake County’s Master Vigneron Academy™ has helped boost the capabilities, confidence and pride of local vineyard-crew supervisors. Forty-eight graduates have now participated in the free year-long program. Chosen by their employers, these students-many of them with decades of experience in vineyard work-have the opportunity to see the wine industry from new angles. In nine workshops, they explore everything from wine blending to vineyard finance. Read more

Randy Krag and MAV grad Aldo Cabrera (Wine Institute) Randy Krag (left) and MVA graduate Aldo Cabrera inspect a Lake County vineyard. Courtesy: Wine Institute  

Viticulture Classes at Mendocino College

Expand your appreciation of wine and your knowledge of winemaking with two classes this fall at Mendocino College Lake Center.

  • “Food & Wine Pairing,” taught by Christine DePasquale. Tuesdays, August 23 to December 13, 5:30 – 7:20 PM.
  • “Introduction to Viticulture,” taught by Paul Zellman. Wednesdays, August 23 to December 13, 6:00 – 8:50 PM.

To learn more, visit the Mendocino College website or click the image below.

Mendocino College Flyer - Viticulture Classes

CAWG Summer Conference and PAC Golf Tournament

CAWG logoRecognition, education, and sportsmanship are on tap at the CAWG Summer Conference July 17 – 18 at the Silverado Resort & Spa, in Napa.

  • Download brochure to register for the 6th annual CAWG PAC Golf Tournament on July 16
  • Download flyer to learn more about the 2017 CAWG Annual Business Meeting & Speaker Program on July 17

Grower Spotlight

Luchsingers Cite Culture and Love of the Land as Keys to Success

Cultural experiences often have lifetime influences on people. For Bernie Luchsinger, owner of Luchsinger Vineyards, the social aspects of friends and family gathering to share a glass of wine, coupled with the widespread acceptance of wine as a social activity in Chile, where he was born, were factors that inspired his love and appreciation for wine and the wine industry.

He confesses that his early wine experiences didn’t involve fine wine. Rather, it was the kind bought in gallons that served his circle of friends and satisfied their early tastes. Eager to learn more about this product that was such an important part of social gatherings, Bernie emigrated from Chile to the US in 1965 as part of a Farm Bureau exchange program in Kelseyville. The program was supposed to last one year, but Bernie stayed a bit longer, visiting universities and vineyards all over California, learning about winegrape growing, and deepening his knowledge and love of the industry. Read more

Bernie Luchsinger and Pilar Luchsinger White, by Nathan DeHart Bernie Luchsinger and Pilar Luchsinger White  

Western Farm Press

Growing a Winegrape Crop Isn’t Work for this Hands-On North Coast Grower

For the past 15 years, the Bartolucci Vineyards operation, based in Finley, Calif. has included his daughter, Deanna, the chief financial officer.

They grow grapes at four ranches. Two are in the Big Valley appellation, along the shores of Clear Lake between Kelseyville and Lakeport where the elevation ranges from 1,330 to 1,440 feet above sea level. There, the Bartoluccis take advantage of the fairly deep soils, good soil nutrient levels and good water-holding capacity to grow Chardonnay, Muscat Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot varieties.

The Bartoluccis' Cougar Ridge Ranch in the Red Hills AVA The Bartoluccis’ Cougar Ridge Ranch in the Red Hills AVA
The other two ranches are in the Red Hills appellation, which borders Clear Lake southeast of Kelseyville. One ranch ranges in elevation from 1,680 to 1,880 feet above sea level, the other from 2,160 to 2,360 feet.

“The red volcanic soils here are totally different than in the valley,” Ron says. “These rocky sites, which are more limited in nutrients and water-holding capacity, allow us to grow Bordeaux varieties with smaller, thick, dark-skinned berries. These grapes produce wines that are rich, full-bodied, complex and elegant.” Read more

Vineyard workers harvest red wine grapesGrape & Wine Marketplace

For the full listing of Lake County grapes and bulk wine for sale, visit the Marketplace page of the LCWC web site.

Grapes Wanted

Monument Mountain Vineyards is seeking 1 to 2 tons of 2017 Lake County Malbec. Contact Carol Hoopes at 707-481-1289 or by email at monumentmtn1@gmail.com

Agriculture Census 2017

USDA Census of Agriculture logoThe Census of Agriculture for 2017 will begin in just a few months, and CDFA is partnering with USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to make sure everyone is counted. Taking part in the ag census is an opportunity for California’s farmers and ranchers to make a positive impact and communicate the significant role California plays in US agriculture.

For 2017, a new and improved online questionnaire will be available. The draft version is online now and ready for review. You are invited to try out the online version and provide feedback.

Once the final version is ready in December 2017, NASS will send a link that can be used with the questionnaire code farmers receive in the mail. For questions or comments, contact Jodi Letterman at USDA-NASS at Jodi.Letterman@nass.usda.gov or 916-498-8629.

Affiliate Sponsor

Sunridge Nurseries Innovates with Cuyama Valley Mother Block

According to Julian Clymer and Sebastian Traviesa of Sunridge Nurseries, the company’s commitment to being an industry leader is best exemplified by its “mother block,” located in Cuyama Valley, an hour outside of Bakersfield. “Because of industry pressure for clean vines,” Sebastian says, “Sunridge Nurseries created a state-of-the-art mother block in a completely isolated location that holds a tremendous amount of scion wood and rootstock available for propagation.”

The location is purposeful in that it ensures the grapestock, which is planted in virgin ground, is not in proximity to pest and disease pressures. Moreover, fruit removal occurs before the grapes are ripe, limiting potential vectors that may enter the block. These conditions make the Cuyama Ranch the largest, most isolated Protocol 2010 mother block in the world, says Sebastian. Read moreSunridge Nurseries Cuyama Ranch Sunridge Nurseries’ Cuyama Valley mother block  

Weather BannerWeather & Climate

The June climate report from Dr. Gregory Jones is out. “The warm up along with plenty of soil moisture has brought a flush of growth with most regions reporting average to slightly ahead of average vine growth, but still behind the past few years…” Download Report (PDF)


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