May 2017 Newsletter

New growth on vines

A Note from Commission President

Spring is in full swing, and celebrating spring with family and friends is easy when you serve a crisp Lake County Sauvignon Blanc alongside green veggies and peas, goat cheese, delicate seafood, or oysters, all of which pair nicely with one of our region’s signature wines. Speaking of which, excitement is building for the 2018 International Sauvignon Blanc Symposium, which will be held here in Lake County next May. Stay tuned for dates and details…

Debra Sommerfield

In This Issue…

Did You Miss Momentum? No Problem.
Lake County Capitalizes on Volcanic Wines
Lake County Wines in the News
Lake County Wines Featured in SF & NYC Classes
French Horses Accompany Good Fortune at Elk Mountain Vineyards
Belkorp AG Continues to Put Customers First
Ciatti Company Supports Growers with Industry Knowledge
Weather & Climate Report

John Szabo, Momentum 2017

Did You Miss Momentum? No Problem. Watch Presentations Online.

Momentum, sponsored by the Lake County Winegrape Commission, was sold out again this year. A packed house at the Soper-Reese Theater in Lakeport was treated to presentations by Master Sommelier John Szabo on volcanic wines around the world, including Lake County; Dr. Liz Thach on preferences of the American wine consumer; Todd Azevedo on the state of the Lake County wine industry; and others.

If you were not able to attend, check out the recorded videos from the event and the speakers’ materials at the Momentum page:

Lake County Capitalizes on Volcanic Wines

Lake County vineyards, trees, mountains, Courtesy of Wines & VinesPhoto credit: Wines & Vines Ed. note: This article by Paul Franson was originally published by Wines & Vines.

The eruption of Mount Konocti about 11,000 years ago was instrumental in the history of Lake County. During the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s Momentum conference in March, local grapegrowers considered how the volcano could help shape the area’s future as a winegrowing region.

Many of the county’s growers, who tend about 10,000 acres of grapes (up sharply from a few years ago), crowded into the historic Soper-Reese Theater in the county seat on Clear Lake.

The theme was “volcanic wines,” and that term certainly applies to many of the county’s products. It’s the home of numerous dormant or extinct volcanoes, most notably the dramatic Mount Konocti rising above Clear Lake and even a small “drive-in” volcanic remnant in High Valley. Read more

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

Lake County Wines in the News

Winemakers in Lake County brought home gold in the recently announced California State Fair Wine Competition and received awards and high scores in other published results.

2017 California State Fair Wine Competition

2017 Calif. State Fair winners include:

  • Boatique 2014 Malbec: Gold/Best of Class
  • Cache Creek 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon: Gold
  • Cache Creek 2013 Elk in Velvet Petite Sirah: Silver/Best of Class
  • Chacewater 2013 Malbec: Double Gold/Best of CA/Best of Class
  • Hawk and Horse 2013 Petit Verdot: Silver/Best of Class
  • Shannon Ridge 2013 Buck Shack Red: Silver/Best of Class
  • Shannon Ridge 2016 High Valley Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc: Double Gold/Best of Region-White/Best of CA/Best of Class
  • Shannon Ridge 2014 Vigilance Cimarron: Double Gold/Best of CA/Best of Class
  • Shed Horn 2014 Home Ranch Cabernet: Double Gold/Best of Class
  • Shed Horn 2015 Non Typical: Gold
  • Steele 2012 Stymie Merlot: Gold/Best of Class
  • Steele 2014 Stymie Syrah: Double Gold/Best of Class
  • Steele 2014 Writer’s Block Petite Sirah: Gold/Best of Class

Download a PDF with complete results or search the database of winners.

North Coast Wine Challenge

Wines that scored well at the 2017 North Coast Wine Challenge include:

  • Brassfield 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon: 98 Points, Best of Lake County
  • Brassfield 2015 Sauvignon Blanc: 96 Points
  • Obsidian Ridge 2013 Half Mile: 97 Points
  • Obsidian Ridge 2014 Syrah: 95 Points

Wine Spectator

Two other notable mentions from a recent issue of Wine Spectator.

  • Sidebar 2015 Sauvignon Blanc High Valley: 91 pts
  • Shannon Ridge 2015 Sauvignon Blanc High Elevation Collection: 87 points

Volcanic Wine Tasting with John Szabo

Lake County Wines Featured in SF & NYC Classes

Last month, as part of a series of “Trade Master Classes” in San Francisco and New York, Master Sommelier John Szabo discussed “volcanic wines” and poured four wines from Lake County, alongside wines from other regions around the world. LCWC co-sponsored the two classes that were held on March 24 at San Francisco Wine School and on March 26 at Rouge Tomate in Manhattan. Featured Lake County volcanic wines included:

  • Shannon Ridge 2016 High Elevation Sauvignon Blanc (Lake County)
  • Brassfield Estate 2013 “Eruption” Volcano Ridge Vineyard (High Valley)
  • Peter Franus 2012 Red Wine (Red Hills)
  • Obsidian Ridge 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Hills)

Volcanic Wine Tasting Menu and glasses set up for a technical tasting

Grower Spotlight

French Horses Accompany Good Fortune at Elk Mountain Vineyard

Ed. Note: This story on Elk Mountain Vineyard is part of a new series of “Grower Spotlights” featured on the LCWC website to help you get to know the people who grow great Lake County winegrapes.

This story, which brings together winegrapes and draft horses, begins with a married couple, the pursuit of a dream, a ranch in Alexander Valley, and four French Percheron horses that needed rescue. It’s the story of Elk Mountain Vineyard.

Dana DiRicco, with a family history of wine growers and a “bucket list” desire to own a draft horse, was approached by a friend who knew her dream. The friend relayed a story about French Percheron foals being euthanized in Canada. The friend pleaded with Dana to buy one of these horses. Dana bought four.

“We purchased the ranch for the horses,” says Dana. “We didn’t even know what varietal of grapes we were purchasing.” As it turned out they had bought a vineyard with thirty acres of Sauvignon Blanc and an acre of other grapes suitable for port. Read more

Percheron draft horse at Elk Mountain Vineyard

Affiliate Sponsor

Belkorp AG Continues to Put Customers First

Hard work and long hours seem to come with the territory when you’re a grower. If you’ve been at it for even a short while, you may have found yourself, on at least one occasion, just staring at the picking head of your harvester, or some other mechanism, wondering what’s caused the latest malfunction. As you work to understand the problem, you realize it’s going to be another late night.

Stories like that are not unfamiliar to Paul Pigoni, Regional Sales Manager for Belkorp AG, the company that since 2011 has been the trusted dealer of John Deere and other top brands to customers all over the North Coast and Central California. “One story I’ll never forget and one I still take to heart today is about a grower, who at the time was using a grape harvester from another manufacturer, and having a lot of problems with it,” he explains.

“As he was wondering what he’d done to deserve those headaches, he would look up at the highway and see our trucks driving by in the middle of the night. It finally dawned on him that we were out there driving around the countryside helping people just like him. Since then, he’s bought three harvesters from us.” Read moreBelkorp AG truck, courtesy of Visual Horizons Custom SignsPhoto credit: Visual Horizons Custom Signs

Affiliate Sponsor

Ciatti Company Supports Growers With Industry Knowledge

Farming is a major investment of time and hard work. For many, it’s a passion. But winegrape growers also have to be good business people, networkers, and market researchers. Unfortunately for most growers, those aspects are not nearly as exciting as seeing first-hand the results of their hard work and passion.

That’s where the Ciatti Company can play an important role, says Glenn Proctor, a partner at the company, a global wine and grape broker. “Being a good business person means understanding what’s going on in the marketplace and having knowledge of potential customers, suitors, or other people the grower could be working with in their business. That’s information we provide to buyers and sellers.” Read moreMomentum 2016, Glenn Proctor, CiattiGlenn Proctor, speaking at Momentum in 2016

Weather Banner

Weather & Climate

The May climate report from Dr. Gregory Jones is out. “Cool and relatively wet conditions continued throughout the western US in April. The general pattern in temperatures in April was cooler than normal from central California eastward to Utah and northward into nearly all of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho…” Download Report (pdf)


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