Kelsey Bench AVA

Kelsey Bench AVA - Lake County
The Kelsey Bench and Big Valley AVAs are closely linked by geography, topography and history. As runoff caused the Mayacamas’ young volcanic foothills of Kelsey Bench to erode over millennia, the ancient clays and deposits of Big Valley formed on the shores of Clear Lake, North America’s oldest lake, estimated to be two and a half million years old.

Volcanic Kelsey Bench and the gravel seams in Big Valley produce intense and balanced Zinfandels and Cabernet Francs.

TopographyOriginally a pyroclastic lava flow, Kelsey Bench is a transition between the volcanic mountains and the alluvial flood plain. It has a largely northeastern exposure.
ElevationKelsey Bench vineyards are planted up to 1,600 feet. 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.
SoilsKelsey Bench forms an arc of rich, red volcanic 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.
Acreage3,288 acres (Kelsey Bench and Big Valley)
ClimateWarms 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.
VarietalsSauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viogner, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Merlot.

Lake County AVA Map

One-page overview of the Kelsey Bench AVA (PDF)


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