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

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