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Lake County wine facts for kids

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Lake County
Wine region
Type U.S. County
Year established 1861
Country United States
Part of California, North Coast AVA
Sub-regions Benmore 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
Soil conditions Volcanic origin, gravel, sand, tephra and obsidian
Total area 219,000 acres (886 km2)
Size of planted vineyards 8,400 acres (34 km2)
Grapes produced Barbera, 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

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. Cabernet Sauvignon has the most acreage, with Merlot a distant second.

Benmore Valley AVA

The Benmore Valley AVA was named for 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 now closed Geyser Peak Winery. There are no wineries or planted vineyards located within the boundaries of the AVA as of February 2018.

Big Valley District AVA

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 of land with six bonded wineries, 43 vineyards, and roughly 1,800 acres planted 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.

Clear Lake AVA

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 feet to well over 3,000 feet. 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

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.

High Valley AVA

The High Valley AVA is located in the eastern part of the county. The valley is situated on high elevations ranging from 1,600 feet (490 m) to 3,000 feet (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

The Kelsey Bench AVA was established on October 2, 2013. The Kelsey Bench area includes about 9,100 acres with one bonded winery and 27 vineyards when it was officially recognized. 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-foot 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.

Red Hills Lake County AVA

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. The terrain is rolling hills with elevations between 1,400 feet (430 m) and 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level.

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