Lake County wine

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Lake County
Wine region
TypeU.S. County Appellation[1]
Years of wine industry153[2]
CountryUnited States
Part ofCalifornia, North Coast AVA
Sub-regionsBenmore Valley AVA, Clear Lake AVA, Guenoc Valley AVA, High Valley AVA, Red Hills Lake County AVA, Big Valley District-Lake County AVA, Kelsey Bench-Lake County AVA[3][4]
Soil conditionsVolcanic origin, gravel, sand, tephra and obsidian[5]
Total area219,000 acres (886 km2)[2]
Size of planted vineyards8,400 acres (3,399 ha)[2]
Grapes producedBarbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Gamay Beaujolais, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Muscat Canelli, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Sauvignon Musque, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Zinfandel[6]

Lake County wine is an appellation that designates wine made from grapes grown mostly in Lake County, California and located north of Napa County. Although each region within Lake County has unique viticultural attributes, all are influenced by Clear Lake, the largest inland body of water in California. Lake County enjoys a reputation for bright, concentrated red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel, and fresh, aromatic whites made from Sauvignon Blanc.[5] Cabernet Sauvignon has the most acreage, with Merlot a distant second.[2][6]

Benmore Valley AVA[edit]

The Benmore Valley AVA was named after Benjamin Moore, a local 19th century cattle rustler. The valley is a high depression in the mountains of southwestern Lake County, and is much cooler than surrounding areas. Most of the grapes produced there were sourced by Geyser Peak Winery. There are no wineries or planted vineyards located within the boundaries of the AVA as of February 2018.[7]

Big Valley District AVA[edit]

The Big Valley District AVA viticultural area is located south of the southern shore of Clear Lake and established on October 2, 2013. It covers approximately 11,000 acres (17 sq mi) with six bonded wineries, 43 vineyards, and roughly 1,800 acres (730 ha) cultivated at its official recognition. Big Valley was the first settlement in Lake County and has a long history of agricultural activity. Sauvignon Blanc is the most widely planted varietal in this area. The boundaries of this region include Clear Lake to the north, Mount Konocti and the Red Hills Lake County AVA to the east, Merritt Road and Bell Hill Road to the south, and Highland Springs Road to the west.[4][8]

Clear Lake AVA[edit]

Half of the area contained within the boundaries of Clear Lake AVA is Clear Lake. The moderating influence of the lake on the surrounding area results in a climate with less diurnal variation in temperature than surrounding areas. Elevations range from 1,300 to 3,000 feet (400 to 910 m).[2] Clear Lake AVA is one of the coolest climates in California, which has led to success with grape varietals like Sauvignon blanc.

Guenoc Valley AVA[edit]

Established in 1981, Guenoc Valley AVA was the first American Viticultural Area designation granted to an area with just a single winery. Guenoc Valley is a small inland valley comprising an alluvial fan of Arroyo Seco and Conejo Loam series soils isolated from surrounding areas by rocky ridges.[9]

High Valley AVA[edit]

The High Valley AVA is located in the eastern part of the county. The valley is situated on high elevations ranging from 1,600 to 3,000 feet (490 to 910 m) in elevation. Red volcanic soils can be found on the hillsides while alluvial fans and benches on the valley floor provide well-drained beds for the vines.

Kelsey Bench AVA[edit]

The Kelsey Bench AVA was established on October 2, 2013. The Kelsey Bench area encompasses about 9,100 acres (14.2 sq mi) with 900 acres (360 ha) of cultivation, one bonded winery and 27 vineyards when it was officially recognized.[4] The term "bench" was selected to reflect the topography of the area with higher elevations and hills. Rich soils cover a large portion of the Kelsey Bench with good drainage favorable to growing grapes. The boundaries of the Kelsey Bench AVA are the Big Valley District AVA to the north, the 1,600 feet (490 m) elevation line that runs east of Kelsey Creek to the east, Kelsey Creek Drive to the south, and Adobe Creek Drive to Highland Springs Road to the west.[10]

Red Hills Lake County AVA[edit]

The Red Hills Lake County AVA lies along the southwestern shores of Clear Lake, separating Excelsior Valley to the east from Big Valley to the west. The hills lie at the foot of Mount Konocti, a volcano which last erupted 11,000 years ago, but which is still regarded as active.[11] The terrain is rolling hills with elevations between 1,400 feet (430 m) and 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level.

Upper Lake Valley AVA[edit]

On June 3 (2022) the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) of the United States announced the approval of the Upper Lake Valley AVA. The Upper Lake Valley AVA represents the 8th AVA located in Lake County, California. The area of the Upper Lake Valley AVA covers a series of valleys running north-northwesterly from the shores of Clear Lake. These valleys and the surrounding hillsides sit at elevations of 1,330 feet to 1,480 feet and are slightly cooler than the surrounding areas.

Long Valley AVA (proposed)[edit]

This proposed AVA is situated along the northeastern side of the High Valley AVA.


  1. ^ "Lake County: Appellation Profile". Appellation America. 2007. Archived from the original on August 12, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Our Region". Lake County Winery Association. 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  3. ^ "Lake County Appellations". Lake County Winegrape Growers. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Establishment of the Big Valley District-Lake County and Kelsey Bench-Lake County Viticultural Areas, and Modification of the Red Hills Lake County Viticultural Area" (27 CFR 9, 78 FR 60686 [T.D. TTB-118 Ref: Notice No. 134]). Federal Register. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). October 2, 2013. pp. 60686–60690. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Lake County Wine". Wine Searcher. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Lake County: Appellation Profile". Appellation America. 2007. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
  7. ^ "Benmore Valley Wine". Wine Searcher. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  8. ^ "Big Valley District AVA". Lake County Winegrape Growers. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  9. ^ "Guenoc Valley AVA". Lake County Winegrape Growers. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  10. ^ "Kelsey Bench AVA". Lake County Winegrape Growers. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  11. ^ "Clear Lake Volcanic Field". U.S. Geological Survey. 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°01′44″N 122°48′41″W / 39.02894°N 122.81148°W / 39.02894; -122.81148