Wine With a View: Shannon Ridge Winery

March 12, 2021

Wind whips around the tasting room, groaning through the flapping sunshades, but around the corner, it’s quiet and warm. Two chairs huddle near a patio heater, a tray filled with hand-labeled two-ounce bottles of wine to taste between them. Below the old farmhouse, old walnut trees fill the courtyard, where the wind blows water from the fountain several feet into the gravel. Birds flick through the bare branches, rising with each breeze, then settling on a new tree. A bocce court framed by a rock wall marks the end of the tasting area and the beginning of the vineyards, which sweep downward to Anderson Marsh and Clear Lake. Snow-tipped mountains rise in the distance, dusted in sugar.

Country music plays on the speaker in the background while Marlyna chats with us. “Clay Shannon used to be in vineyard management,” she says. “But after taking care of everyone else’s vineyards for years, he decided to go out and do it on his own. He bought eighty acres in High Valley and started Shannon Ridge.” Her dark eyes smile as she speaks; she uses her hands to talk as much as her words. “Now we’ve got over 2,400 hundred acres, with 1,200 under the v and eighteen labels.”

As of today, Shannon Ridge is the largest winery in Lake County. With forty-two wines for sale on their order sheet, there’s plenty to choose. Plus, under Joy Merrilees, Director of Winemaking & Production, Shannon Ridge has created several distinct, unique wines.

Lake County’s know for Sauvignon Blancs, and Shannon Ridge has several great ones. Four, to be exact. Each is high-quality and reflects Joy’s skill and versatility in winemaking. But a personal favorite is from the Clay Shannon label. It’s made from the best grapes and sourced entirely from a single vineyard. The fruit-forward bouquet leads to dry, citrus and grassy notes that round out the taste. It’s crisp, bright, and a perfect representation of a Lake County Sauvignon Blanc.

The tasting tray

But Shannon Ridge’s most unique wines are the Buck Shack bourbon barrel wines. Aged three months in wet bourbon barrels, they have a unique, distinctive flavor.

“I worked with Joy back at Kelsey Creek Brewing,” Marlyna says. And they made a bourbon barrel beer. Joy took that idea and thought, ‘Why don’t I try it with wine?’ It’s turned out to be one of our bestsellers.”

There’s a reason why; it’s incredibly drinkable. Cabernet Sauvignon is a big, bold wine, and the bourbon barrel aging smooths the rough edges, drawing forward the fruit notes and easing the tannins, leaving a lingering bourbon finish. It’s the kind of wine made for all types of food, but will shine with barbecue, marinaras, and anything red meat-related.

Back under the eaves of the old farmhouse, the tasting’s slowly coming to an end. But the conversation continues as we head in to make our purchase. Marlyna’s telling a great story about one of the Buck Shack parties, her arms broadly gesturing as she laughs. It’s a hospitable place, where it’s easy to stay a while, enjoying the company and magnificent view.

After saying our goodbyes, we head to the car, bottles in hand, the vineyards sweeping down below towards the edges of Clear Lake.

For more information about Shannon Ridge’s Wines, or to purchase, visit their website.

To book a tasting, email or call the tasting room at (707) 994-9656. Reservations Required.

Shannon Ridge

Vigilance Tasting Room

13888 Point Lakeview Rd, Lower Lake, CA 95457