The Lake County wine region currently has over 35 wineries and surrounds Clear Lake, the largest natural lake in California. There are five distinct appellations here containing almost 9000 acres of vineyards. The largest, the Clear Lake AVA, also includes the subappellations Red Hills and High Valley. The Guenoc Valley AVA and Benmore Valley AVA are the other appellations located within county lines.
The primary varietals grown in Lake County are Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, but you will also find many others including Chardonnay, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel.
Favorite Tasting Rooms in Lake County
Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill – This company produces boutique wines and Extra Virgin Olive Oils from estate grown, certified organic grapes and olives (and they even make soaps now). Owner Paul Manuel’s forefathers come from Chacewater, England and the interesting symbol for the winery is the mark of a Chacewater church builder. Chacewater was named the “2012 Golden State Winery of the Year” at the California State Fair. They make a lot of different wines here but our suggestions for what to try first are the Sauvignon Blancs, the Malbec and Petite Sirah from the Red Hills AVA, and the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon made with grapes from the Sierra Foothills. 5625 Gaddy Lane, Kelseyville (707) 279-2995
Guenoc/Langtry Estates - Langtry Estate & Vineyards consists of 23,000 picturesque acres which straddle both Lake and Napa Counties. Despite the vast size of the estate, Langtry’s vineyards are limited to 400 prime acres, which are used to grow grapes for a variety of wines made under two labels, Langtry and Guenoc. Our favorite wines here are the Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Sirah, and the Langtry Estate Petit Verdot and Tephra Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon. 21000 Butts Canyon Rd, Middletown (707) 987-2385
Moore Family Winery – The tasting room in the Red Hills District is surrounded by pristine forestland and comes with 360 degree views of Cobb Mountain. The property here can accommodate concerts for a crowd or just an informal picnic amongst friends or family members. On the back label of the wines here you will find a constellation of stars, each star symbolizing a member of the family headed up by Steve and Robin Moore. We tend to prefer the Sauvignon Blanc, Charbono, Malbec, and “Black Dog” Cabernet Sauvignon here. 11990 Bottle Rock Road, Kelseyville (707) 279-9279
Rosa d’Oro Vineyards - This family owned and operated winery has been growing premium wine grapes in California since 1953. Rosa d’Oro has an attractive tasting room in downtown Kelseyville and they focus on old-world Italian varietals. They also make their own olive oils and vinegars. Try everything you can, but we’ve consistently liked the Aglianico, Barbera, Dolcetto, Montepulciano, Sagrantino and Sangiovese. 3915 Main Street, Kelseyville (707) 279-0483
Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery - Clay and Margarita Shannon both grew up in wine country and now head this excellent winery on the north shore of Clear Lake. They make a wide range of wines here (what with 700 acres of vineyards and all) but the quality is high and consistent. Their new tasting room is just down the road from their old tasting room, and has much better parking. Be sure to try their Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera and Petite Sirah. If you like to eat lamb, the tasting room also sells grass-fed Shannon Ranch lamb products, ready to go home with you for your oven or grill. 12599 East Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks (707) 998-9656
Six Sigma Ranch – Kaj and Else Ahlmann purchased this historic ranch estate in 2000, and you’ll see a lot of its 4,300 acres as you slowly drive up the 2-mile road to the tasting room (located at the site of a former stagecoach stop). The 40 acres of high-altitude vineyards here produce grapes used to make a variety of wines. Our favorites here are the Asbill Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Christian’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the Tempranillo. 13372 Spruce Grove Road, Lower Lake (707) 994-4068
Vigilance Winery and Vineyards – Another winery owned by Clay and Margarita Shannon, this winery emphasizes its focus on sustainable farming. The name is an homage to the ever-vigilant sheep dogs that guard over the lambs and vines. Our recommendations here are the Sauvignon Blanc and Cimmaron (a red wine blend). 13888 Point Lakeview Road, Lower Lake (707) 994-9656
Wildhurst Vineyards - The Holdenreid family owns this winery along with several hundred acres of pear trees (welcome to Lake County). The tasting room is in downtown Kelseyville offering a wide range of varietals. We particularly like their Orange Muscat, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve Merlot, and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. 3855 Main Street, Kelseyville (707) 279-4302
Lake County Winery Association – Association of wineries in the County.
Lake County Winegrape Commission – Organization focused on marketing the region to new and existing grape buyers and wineries, as well as assisting growers in a variety of activities.
(photo courtesy of Lake County Winegrape Commission, all rights reserved)