Located about 65 miles south of the California and Oregon border, Trinity County is one of California’s northern most AVAs, however, the entirety of Trinity County California is not recognized as an AVA yet. Vineyards have been planted here since the 1980s, and in 2005 Trinity Lakes became the regions first sub AVA.
Trinity County makes up the third leg of the Emerald Triangle, with Humboldt County and Mendocino County as the other two legs. Being landlocked, Trinity County differs greatly from the neighboring coastal counties.
With Trinity County’s location among the Klamath Mountains, that means most vineyards are planted at altitudes higher than 1200 feet above sea level, with some reaching up to 2500 feet. The altitude also contributes to the areas significant diurnal temperature variation. The warm days are tempered by cold night air from the surrounding mountains, which extends the growing season giving grapes time to gently develop varietal character without sacrificing acidity. Alas, the cold alpine air can pose a threat to the vineyards, with some vintages affected by frosts in June and September.
The large size of Trinity County means there is no uniform soil type. The soil can contain alluvial loam, shale, and pockets of limestone and decomposed granite. Thin and free draining, the lack of water in the soil restricts the yield and vegetation growth leading to more concentrated grapes.
The most popular Trinity County wine styles are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer. The Pinots here tend to develop a soft, fruit driven profile, whereas the whites display an exuberant spicy citrus character that define the style of Californian Riesling and California Gewürztraminer.
The wine trade here is a much quieter, more rural lifestyle, which unfortunately means the Trinity County may never achieve the wine tourism that others like Napa Valley and Sonoma County experience, due to its difficult location to travel to. However, the isolation and travel difficulty adds to the secrecy and rareness one feels at the vineyard and within the wines, when they put the effort in to travel to Trinity County.
Some of the most popular Trinity County wineries are Alpen Cellars and One Maple Estate, both of which are situated in Trinity Lakes AVA.
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