Red Hills Lake County AVA
Red Hills Lake County AVA in California’s Lake County is a sub AVA situated within the larger Clear Lake AVA, which is at the southern end of the lake itself. The AVA separates the Excelsior Valley from the Big Valley, and sits below Mount Konocti. The land in Red Hills Lake County is reasonably hilly with most of its vineyards planted between 1600 to 2500 feet above sea level, and a majority of these planted above 2000 feet.
The vines planted at a higher altitude experience more intense sunshine nad UV rays than those planted lower. The powerful UV’s allow grapes to reach optimal ripeness and trigger the formation of thicker grape skins, greater tannins, and intense wines with higher phenolic content.
Temperatures in Red Hills Lake County are diurnal with significantly colder nights that offset the hot sunny daytime temperatures. The cold nights lengthen the ripening season and maintain valuable acidity in the grapes. Similarly the constant summer breezes help reduce overall temperature of the region leading to a longer milder growing region. In fact, without this constant summer breeze to bring down the heat, the wine region would not be fit for viticulture.
The terrain is one of the most vital parts of this wine region, and is even where the Red Hills gets its name! With soil that is mainly left over red lava from past eruptions of the regions long extinct volcanoes, the soils are over 90% volcanic origin. The red soils are free draining, shallow and rich in minerals, which leads to vines digging their root system deeper into the soil for sustenance. Red soil strengthens vines and decreases grape yields, leading to more concentration of flavor in the berries. The best parts of the Red Hills have pockets of glassy black obsidian, which has excellent drainage and absorbs heat during the day to help the ripening process.
The high altitude and tough volcanic terrain encourage the production of elegant, concentrated, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon vines grow small berries with thick skins that results in the incredible wine that only becomes better with age.
It wasn’t until 2004 that Red Hills Lake County was declared an AVA. With over 32,000 total acres, nearly 3000 are planted. Some notable Red Hills Lake County wineries and vineyards include: Bartolucci, Beckstoffer, Beringer Blass, Kendall-Jackson, Sol Rouge, and Snows Lake Vineyards. Although Cabernet Sauvignon is by far the most widely grown varietal in this region, the vineyards are also planted to the Red Hills Lake County wine varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Malbec, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, Petite Verdot, Barbera, and Sangiovese.
We are thrilled to offer a variety of wines from this region in our wine of the month club subscription. Enjoy!