Kelsey Bench – Lake County AVA

Kelsey Bench AVA, Credit Nathan DeHart for LCWC

Originally a pyroclastic lava flow, Kelsey Bench is a transition between volcanic mountains and alluvial flood plain. The AVA has been home to a wide range of varietals, both red and white, and can accommodate because of its variations in soil and elevation.

TopographyThe Kelsey Bench AVA is also closely linked to the Big Valley AVA by geography, topography, and history. Both AVAs were established on October 2, 2013. They share a border along the southern edge of Big Valley, as the bench lands and terraces of Kelsey Bench rise above Kelseyville toward the Mayacamas Mountains and Red Hills.
ElevationMost of the vineyards are planted between 1,400 feet and 1,600 feet in elevation, on the generally level areas around Bell Hill, Plunkett Lane, and Gold Dust.
SoilsThe Kelsey Bench AVA sits on the northeastern flank of the Mayacamas where the mountains slope gently into the valley that surrounds Clear Lake. Originally formed by lava flow, Kelsey Bench is a transition between volcanic mountains and alluvial flood plain. As runoff eroded the foothills over many millennia, it left clay and mineral deposits in the benchlands. As a consequence, the terrain varies, from young volcanic soil in the higher sections of Kelsey Bench (similar to Red Hills) to well-drained, alluvial Forbesville Loam in the lower levels. Small pieces of Obsidian are part of this rock mix but are not predominant.
Acres9,119 acres
ClimateThe climate in the area is generally warmer than Big Valley, where white winegrapes dominate, and cooler than Red Hills, which is primarily planted to red varietals. Warm 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 can result in 50° diurnal cycles. These large temperature swings from day to night help maintain the acidity in mature winegrapes in Kelsey Bench.
VarietalsCabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel


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