The Elevation Effect

Here in Lake County, you will often hear us say we are “higher, dryer, shorter and colder.” These are important factors in our high elevation terroir and provide important advantages that most other growing regions do not experience. What does all this mean?

Higher. Being “higher” largely puts the other three dynamics in play: dryer, shorter, and colder. It also allows Lake County winegrapes to receive excellent UV exposure. With as much as 10% more exposure than neighboring sea level valleys, increased UV triggers thicker skins, greater tannins, and intense wines with high phenolic content. With vineyards sitting between lake level, at 1,370 feet above sea level, and ranging up hillsides and valley walls to 2,600 feet, Lake County also enjoys clean air. In fact, it is the cleanest air in California.

Dryer. As with most higher-elevation regions, our air is “dryer” with consistently less humidity. During the growing season, Lake County’s relative humidity on any given day can be half as much as Napa, found to our south. Among other things, this helps stave off rot and, therefore, typically allows growers to use less sulfur and other moisture abatement techniques. This reduces operational cost in the vineyard in addition to helping facilitate superior winegrape quality.

Shorter. Our “shorter” growing season can also be an advantage. Overall, this dynamic limits the amount of extraneous vegetative growth that can contribute to increased pest pressure. Similarly, our “colder” winters kill off many overwintering pests. Both of these factors lead to diminished use of both pesticides and herbicides in the vineyard.

Though our season can sometimes be shorter, our climate enjoys significant diurnal swing. This is due to several factors including our elevation and effects from Clear Lake. Our warm days and cool nights, often boasting a swing of more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit in a 24-hour period, create complex wines with balanced acids and desirable tannins.

Video. In this fascinating interview, Peter Molnar, Chair of the Lake County Winegrape Commission and General Manager of Obsidian Ridge Vineyard, gives us a deeper perspective on the “Elevation of Wine” in Lake County and its effects on creating superior winegrapes that lead to high-quality wines.

Calendar of Events

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LCWC Board Meeting 4:00 pm
LCWC Board Meeting @ LCWC Office
Dec 3 @ 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm
Agenda – LCWC Board Meeting, December 3, 2019
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Crop Insurance Webinar Series 10:00 am
Crop Insurance Webinar Series
Dec 4 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Crop Insurance Webinar Series
Crop Insurance 101 As the harvest season wraps up, it’s time to start planning for next year. An important part of your 2020 planning process is risk management of your most valuable asset – –[...]
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Crop Insurance Webinar Series 10:00 am
Crop Insurance Webinar Series
Dec 11 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Crop Insurance Webinar Series
Crop Insurance 102 Whether you are new to crop insurance or you’ve been purchasing it for many years, CAWG is committed to bringing you education on the most current industry topics. Our Crop 102 webinar[...]
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UCCE Lake & Mendocino IPM Seminar 7:30 am
UCCE Lake & Mendocino IPM Seminar @ UC Hopland Research and Extension Center
Dec 13 @ 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
22nd Annual UCCE Lake & Mendocino IPM Seminar   UC Hopland Research and Extension Center 4070 University Road, Hopland Rod Shippey Hall Friday, December 13, 2019 Doors open 7:30 am for Registration Seminar starts at[...]
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Crop Insurance Webinar Series 10:00 am
Crop Insurance Webinar Series
Dec 18 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Crop Insurance Webinar Series
Whole Farm Revenue Protection Want to protect your crop against price and market losses? Maybe Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) is for you! Join CAWG on Wednesday, December 18th at 10:00 am to learn more[...]
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