September 20, 2015 by Joe Kukura

The high-altitude wines of northern California’s wine country are finally getting the high praise they deserve. That’s why the Lake County Winery Association is highlighting specific micro-regions of its north-of-Napa viticulture, and that spotlight shines on the Red Hills Appellation for the Red Hills-Kelseyville Wine Mini-Tour.

The Red Hills region gets its name from having exceptionally red soil and rolling, mountainous hills that produce distinctive high-altitude winegrapes. The combination of rich, well-drained volcanic soil that accumulates almost no standing water, Lake County’s cleanest air in America and its Mediterranean climate of warm days, cool nights and very little fog produces wines with great tannins and exceptional flavor.

The Red Hills-Kelseyville Wine Mini-Tour covers the Lower Lake and Kelseyville vineyards and wineries of Lake County, all of which offer incomparable views, vanguard winemaking techniques and unforgettable tasting room selections.

Gregory Graham Wines is a solar-powered winery in Lower Lake producing award-winning Zinfandels, Syrahs and Grenaches, and proudly using a scientifically advanced screw cap method of bottling the wines to ensure preservation of their rich aromas and flavors. Vigilance Winery & Vineyards uses the environmentally friendly Ovis Cycle that utilizes live sheep to control weeds and pests instead of tractors, mowers and weed eaters. Thorn Hill Vineyards produces small batches of artisan wine with great attention to premium grapes and an extremely finicky barrel selection process. Moore Family Winery is a mountaintop vineyard and winery that often hosts outdoor live music concerts in its vineyard. Laujor Estate Winery has a high-elevation vineyard at an altitude of nearly 2,500 feet and a private loft with panoramic views for an overnight stay. Boatique Wines has just opened, and you can be among the very first to sample its exceptional wines and tour its collection of restored, classic wooden antique boats.

Several outstanding restaurant options are located along the Red Hills Mini-Tour Trail. If you’re near Cobb, Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta offers the brick oven pizzas for which they are named plus a full menu of dinner items and salads, and a great selection of local wines. Also in Cobb is The Village Pub, serving 24 beers on tap with BBQ and pizza, live music, pool, darts and trivia every Thursday. It’s the local community hot spot and place to be seven days a week. In Kelseyville, the Richmond Park Bar & Grill sits right upon the Konocti Bay of Clear Lake and offers spectacular views of the lake while boaters and jet-skiers dock for a bite. The Blue Moon Cafe is a quaint Americana diner experience that has complimentary mimosas on Sundays. And for the food truck aficionados, Bistro & Co. serves up handcrafted burgers, burritos and wings from Kit’s Corner and Creekside Lodge.

The Lake County Winery Association mini-tours are a great way to learn about high-altitude viticulture and satisfy your palate. Make plans to put the Red Hills-Kelseyville Wine Mini-Tour on your summer itinerary, with an array of wine tastings and food pairings that will please and surprise even the most seasoned wine connoisseur. With five incomparable vineyards and spectacular mountain scenery, this mini-tour highlights a region that wine lovers worldwide are starting to hear about through the grapevine.