Big Valley District AVA

Big Valley AVA - Lake County

Runoff over millennia have eroded the Mayacamas’ young volcanic foothills of Kelsey Bench into the ancient clays and deposits of Big Valley on the shores of Clear Lake, North America’s oldest lake, estimated to be two and a half million years old. Big Valley’s mix of gravel, clay and loam, bright sunlight from the 1,400 feet elevation, and cool nights produces remarkable Sauvignon Blancs, establishing Lake County as one of the premier California regions for the varietal. Along with the volcanic Kelsey Bench, the gravel seams in Big Valley produce intense and balanced Zinfandels and Cabernet Francs.

Big Valley growers were among the first visionaries to discover the region’s winegrape potential and began planting vineyards in the 1960s, the first in Lake County since Prohibition.

Topography Bordered by Clearlake on the north, the Mayacamas on the west and south, and Mount Konocti on the east, Big Valley is a structural basin that is part of the larger Clear Lake basin.
Elevation Vineyard elevations range from 1,330 to 1,440 feet in Big Valley. Higher elevations and Lake County’s pure air allow for greater levels of UV light, as much as 10% more than neighboring sea level valleys. This UV intensity triggers thicker skins, greater tannins, and intense wines with high phenolic content.
Soils The evolving watershed has eroded into the fertile blocks of clay and loam soils of Big Valley, resulting in swaths of gravel deposits and well-drained soils.
Acreage 3,288 acres (Big Valley and Kelsey Bench)
Climate Warms days are moderated by the thermal mass of Clear Lake. Afternoon breezes carry down from the ridges of the Mayacamas and initiate afternoon cooling that often results in 50° diurnal cycles, key to retaining acidity in mature wine grapes. Cold winters and dry summers allow for low rates of pesticide and other applications.
Varietals Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viogner, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Merlot.

Lake County AVA Map

One-page overview of the Big Valley AVA (PDF)

Calendar of Events

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit West 2:00 pm
U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit West @ Sonoma County, CA
Jun 6 @ 2:00 pm – Jun 7 @ 3:00 pm
Who: A gathering of regional winery and vineyard associations, engaged grower and vintner leaders, and others committed to the sustainability of their local vineyards, wineries and regions. What: Learn some of the driving forces behind consumers’ and[...]
Implementing Sustainable Farming Practices: Water and Pest Management 8:30 am
Implementing Sustainable Farming Practices: Water and Pest Management
Jun 13 @ 8:30 am – 1:00 pm
Special Targeted Education Event for Growers sponsored by: California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance & Lake County Winegrape Commission Welcome, Debra Sommerfield, Lake County Winegrape Commission & Clint Nelson, Vineyard Manager, Beckstoffer Vineyards – Red Hills Increasing Performance[...]
AgVenture Lite: What we know about Clear Lake 5:30 pm
AgVenture Lite: What we know about Clear Lake @ Soper Reese Community Theatre
Jun 13 @ 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
The Lake County Chapter of California Women for Agriculture and Lake County Winegrape Growers present AgVenture Lite: What we know about Clear Lake Clear Lake is thought to be over 450,000 years old making it[...]
LCWC Executive Committee Meeting 2:30 pm
LCWC Executive Committee Meeting @ LCWC Office
Jun 18 @ 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Agenda – LCWC Executive Committee, June 18, 2019
LCWC Board Meeting 3:00 pm
LCWC Board Meeting @ LCWC Office
Jun 18 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Agenda – LCWC Board Meeting, June 18, 2019
Master Vigneron Academy®
Master Vigneron Academy®
Jun 19 all-day
Session #6 Lake County vineyards