Description 1 of 2

Lake County is an emerging wine region within California’s North Coast, north of Napa. Clear Lake, the state’s largest inland body of water, surrounds the county and regulates the local climate. Most of the vineyards are located to the cooler south of the region. 
 
Like most of this part of California, wine-making began in the 1800s, beginning with missionaries who made ceremonial wines, continuing its progress as California was liberated from Mexico and the settlers and entrepreneurs arrived. Wines of high repute were being produced here. But also as with most nearby regions, many of the vineyards were abandoned for other agriculture due to the Phylloxera and Prohibition double-whammy between the turn of the 20th century and the 1930s. 
 
It wasn’t until the 1960s that a few perceptive vintners saw the area’s potential and began replanting vineyards. From there, the industry has expanded significantly, with an excellent reputation for quality wine-making. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted varietal, next to Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Merlot. 
 
It is divided into three subregions:
Benmore Valley
Clear Lake
Guenoc Valley
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

, just north of Napa, has been growing premium wines since the mid 19th century when people first recognized that the varied soils and microclimates of the region would produce wines of exceptional quality. In Lake County, grapes are grown in four distinct appellations – Guenoc Valley, Red Hills, High Valley, and Clear Lake – each with its own distinctive soil type. These include the sandy loam, serpentine soils of Guenoc; the iron red volcanic soils of the Red Hills; the gray-weathered, cinder ash and silt blends of High Valley; and - at the base of dormant volcano Mount Konocti - the alluvial soils of the ‘big valley’ in the Clear Lake AVA. The common factor in Lake County’s diverse terroir is the moderating influence of Clear Lake, the largest natural lake in California, which gives the county its name. Warm days and plummeting nighttime temperatures let grapes ripen at optimum rates for moderate sugars with sufficient acidity. Protected by the low summer humidity of Lake County, botrytis-susceptible grapes adapt well in this environment.

Before prohibition in 1921, Lake County had 28 commercial wineries, making it the largest pre-prohibition grape-producing county in California, but the area was slow in recovering as vineyards had been torn out and replaced by pear and walnut orchards. From less than 100 acres in 1965, Lake County vineyard acreage has grown to over 8,800 today and is becoming one of the wine industries fastest growing regions. Sauvignon Blanc, one of the major wines to distinguish itself during the recovery, is now being supplanted by the new generations of big reds. Cabernet Sauvignon has by far the most acreage, with Merlot a distant second. However, despite being third in total revenue (according to the 2004 Lake County Winegrape Tonnage and Pricing report), Petite Sirah is considered amongst the best in its class.

~ information provided by Chris Ruttan, Canino Ridge Vineyards – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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