Despite the Valley Fire, many may not know what Lake County has to offer besides hiking, biking, fishing, and water sports. If anything, people may not think it can even offer that, as San Francisco Bay, Tahoe, and other locales have much more clout associated with their names. However, Lake County is actually emerging as a wine making region, of all things!
The first varietal Lake County is becoming known for is Petite Sirah. Petite Sirah, also known as Durif, is a less common grape that is a hybrid of Syrah and a very little known grape, Peloursin. The result is a grape that produces a dark, inky wine loaded with blue and black fruit, tannins, and a bright acidity. Of all that varietals, maybe even overcoming King Cab, Petite Sirah often can age up to 20 years in the cellar before it being enjoyed! Such a cellar-worthy wine surely would have to be produced from some acclaimed and prestigious wine making region as Napa, right?
No! Lake County was originally the Napa of Northern California. Due to a promised railroad never being built, the fruition of wine dreams never came. But, it is making a comeback now. There are 7 distinct AVAs in lake county, varying from ~220,000 acres to 1500 acres. Generally, all of the AVAs have high elevation, well-drained soils, and are perfect for growing grapes. If anything, these conditions are the most desired for viticultural purposes. Grapes grow so well there that everything from Cab to Merlot to Sauvignon blanc and Riesling are planted throughout. The only varietal that misses out would be Pinot Noir, but that’s what we have Sonoma Coast for!
There are many award-winning wines coming out of the region, including Gregory Graham, Shannon Ridge, Six Sigma, Langtry Estate, and Brassfield. If you find yourself driving up that way, or are looking for a cute, quaint location to wine taste without the Napa/Sonoma price tag, I highly encourage a visit to the many wineries of Lake County!