High Valley Appellation featured in East Lake County Wine Mini-Tour
October 29, 2015
The Lake County Winery Association celebrates each distinct winegrowing region of Lake County with a series of mini-tours, and the East Lake County Wine Mini-Tour highlights the high-altitude wines of the High Valley AVA.
Certain winegrowing areas in the United States are awarded designation as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), and the High Valley Appellation in Lake County, California, may be one of the most geologically distinct of all. With its high elevations, volcanic soils and cleanest air in the country, the High Valley AVA lives up to its name—with winegrapes grown at altitudes as high as 3,000 feet.
Located about 130 miles north of San Francisco, the High Valley Appellation enjoys lake breezes that keep temperatures cooler than much of the rest of wine country. The diurnal temperature swings between the daytime and evening temperatures result in longer hang times for the grapes and better acid retention in the finished wine. The higher elevations and cooler temperatures combine to produce exceptional pinot grigios, pinot noirs, chardonnays, rieslings and sauvignon blancs that you should really take in at the High Valley AVA’s distinctive wineries.
The Brassfield Estate is a sprawling and scenic 2,500-acre Tuscan-style winery, much of which still serves as a wildlife preserve. Brassfield’s estate-grown grapes produce magnificent and widely respected chardonnays and pinots. Cache Creek Vineyards is an all-organic vineyard with a newly opened tasting room and occasional concerts at its gorgeous outdoor music venue. Noggle Vineyards & Winery is an off-the-beaten-path gem, a very small operation whose wines just keep winning awards. Stonehouse Cellars grows organic grapes for cabernets and sauvignons, and also offers bed-and-breakfast arrangements.
There are some other unique places for overnight stays on this mini-tour. The ever-popular Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast Resort is like no other B&B. Guests stay in one of nine different decorated theme cabooses, a real treat for kids and adults. For full cottages, Clear Lake Cottages and Marina has queen and double cottages plus panoramic views of Clear Lake, the oldest lake in North America.
The East Lake County Wine Mini-Tour also features some quirky and can’t-miss restaurants in the charming local towns of Nice, Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks.
Harbor Restaurant and Lounge is a fun “East meets West” experience, serving delectable Chinese cuisine with an Old West interior ambiance. Locals love the popular and bustling Chinese and Thai hotspot Happy Garden Restaurant and Bar. The Fresh and Bangin’ Eatery puts gourmet twists on classic Americana food in a hip atmosphere. And the Catfish Coffeehouse serves breakfast, sandwiches and salads along with fair-trade coffee and a real California vibe.
There are few areas in wine country growing grapes at such high elevations as in eastern Lake County’s High Valley AVA. Rather than weakening the winegrapes, these unique qualities give the grapes a more concentrated character. Enjoy that character, and the character of the region, with the East Lake County Wine Mini-Tour—where high-elevation wine attains a high-water mark.