By Trudy Wakefield
Even though this difficult year may have hampered your wine adventures, it’s still possible to taste the wines of an undiscovered wine region.
Bordering Napa and Sonoma counties, Lake County has nearly forty wineries, ample outdoor opportunities, and great, friendly locals. It’s a place where you can stand on the top of a hollow volcano and watch the sunset over North America’s oldest lake, and where each winery has its own tasting experience.
The secret to Lake County’s wine is in the dirt: their unique volcanic terroir helps create some of the most drinkable wines in Northern California. You’re sure to discover the perfect one for any occasion.
Chacewater’s winery doubles as an olive mill where you can watch them harvest and process local oils while you taste. Lake County is known for its Sauvignon Blanc, and Chacewater creates an exceptional one. The Organic, given 91 points at the 2019 Los Angeles Wine Competition, is fragrant with citrus hints and a tart aroma in the bouquet. The crispness is balanced by the tang and fullness of apricots that wind across the palate.
At Cache Creek Winery, you can sip on a glass, listen to country music playing in the background, and watch the turkeys and Tule elk roam the grounds. Their Chardonnay is surprisingly smooth and balanced. The acidic notes of green apple and pear blend with a creamy mouthfeel that lingers long in the finish.
Shannon Ridge’s tasting room rests on a vineyard covered hill overlooking Northern California’s largest natural lake. This Sauvignon Blanc, one of their finest, is filled with aromas of stone fruit, citrus, and herbs. Each sip begins dry and bright and ends crisp, leaving the palate clean and refreshed.
The vineyards for Sol Rouge nestle in the arms of Mt. Konocti, soaking up the volcanic soil. Their Gypsy Blanc’s bouquet lingers clear, crisp, and golden, like ocean air. In each sip the sweetness of pear notes balance with the tartness of citrus, leaving a crisp, lingering finish.
Depending on the day, owner Cindi Olof may take you for a vineyard tour during your tasting, walking you through the process of her grape’s transformation to wine. She’s most proud of their Nebbiolo, an unusual varietal and a bigger wine known for its tannins. Olof’s Nebbiolo is dry and crisp on the palate, with a depth that can hold its own with any food from poultry to steak.
There’s a reason Napa buys so many grapes from Lake County, and that reason resides in this glass. The first taste is jammy, with hints of cherry and spice. Then the mineral moves in. It’s the terroir talking, sharing a bit of itself in your wine. The finish circles back to the bouquet and lingers on your tongue like a beautiful day on the ranch.
Laujor Estate Winery captures the magic of Lake County with its sensational views of the hollow volcano Mt. Konocti. This wine has a profound complexity that demands your attention. The bouquet brings heavy notes of spice and hints of oak. Then the fruits move across the palate, dark and rich. It’s the kind of wine that hangs around for a bit and says, “Thanks for drinking me. Try another sip.”
Located in the heart of an old county town, Fore Family is known for its hospitality and friendly atmosphere. Gentler than a Cabernet Sauvignon, their Mourvedre sits round on the palate. Soft oak notes ease the minerality and raspberry tartness. If you’re into eating while you drink, it’s the answer to your wine question.