Today Lake County is home to more than 30 wineries and 180 growers with over 9,500 acres producing winegrapes. “We have gone from historical to traditional to professional,” notes Peter Molnar, Past Chair of the Lake County Winegrape Commission. “Sustainable growing efforts are central to Lake County’s approach.Lake County winegrape growers combine the latest technologies with traditional viticultural practices, emphasizing long-term sustainability for the environment and the region."

Vineyards are at the heart of producing world-class wines. Lake County winegrapes lend themselves perfectly to quality programs, and they provide a great value to North Coast wineries. But ultimately it comes down to the people. Owners, managers, foremen, and experienced vineyard workers are key to bringing out the best of our vineyards.

“Lake County has a dedicated cadre of professional winegrape growers,” said LCWC President Debra Sommerfield. “They are focused on quality, they work hard, and they care about their land, their workers, the environment, and our community.”


Mitch and Tracey Hawkins at Hawk and Horse Vineyards, photo credit Rocco Ceselin

Mitch and Tracey Hawkins at Hawk and Horse Vineyards, photo credit Rocco Ceselin

Meet Mitch and Tracey Hawkins

Mitch and Tracey Hawkins and the Boies Family are the proprietors of Hawk and Horse Vineyards. Its mountain vineyards are situated at elevations up to 2,200 feet in Lake County. Hawk and Horse Vineyards is also home to cattle, competitive rodeo horses, and an enormous range of wildlife, from red-tailed hawks and owls to bear, wild boar, bobcats, mountain lions. The ranch has a plaque documenting the historical location of El Roble Grande, the largest Valley Oak ever recorded in California. Read more about Hawk and Horse Vineyards.



Andy Beckstoffer & son David at Amber Knolls Vineyard, photo credit Scott Strazzante, SF Chronicle

Andy Beckstoffer & son David at Amber Knolls Vineyard, photo credit Scott Strazzante, SF Chronicle

Meet Andy Beckstoffer

Andy Beckstoffer is one of the early and most important leaders in the evolution of the Napa Valley to world-class grape growing region. A native of Richmond, Virginia and Graduate of Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth, Andy joined Heublein, Inc. in 1966 and played a critical role in advising the company to enter the super-premium wine segment of the California wine industry, including its purchase of Beaulieu Vineyards and United Vintners, owners of Inglenook and Italian Swiss Colony wines. In 1970, with his family moved to California, Andy established the Vinifera Development Corporation for Heublein, directing all aspects of vineyard farming as its President. With his subsequent purchase of the company, Andy assumed the ownership of Melrose Vineyard and the lease of several other vineyards in the Napa Valley and Mendocino, vineyards still owned by the family-owned Beckstoffer Vineyards today.
As a Founding Director and the second President of the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association, Andy forged an early, historic agreement on grape pricing that tied the price of grapes to retail bottle price. Thus began a new era in which grape quality and land preservation were brought to the forefront of the grape grower industry. To this day, the Napa Valley Grape Growers continues to thrive in its mission to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. Andy has made a notable contribution to the overall quality and perception of Northern California grape growing. In 1989, he led the Napa Valley Grape Growers in establishing the Winery Definition Ordinance, which requires that 75% of grapes used in Napa Valley wines must come from the appellation. And, in 1994, as Founder and first President of the Rutherford Dust Society, Andy encouraged and promoted the highest quality standards in grape growing and winemaking in the Rutherford Viticultural Area.
Today, Beckstoffer Vineyards owns and farms over 3,600 acres of highest quality grape growing properties in three Northern California winegrowing regions – the Napa Valley, Mendocino County and the Red Hills of Lake County, which holds significant promise for the cultivation of Cabernet grapes. The company’s commitment to excellence, innovation and to its people is a benchmark for the industry as a whole and a testament to Andy’s vision, his belief in the future of the industry, and in the community in which he and his family have established such strong roots. Andy lives in the Napa Valley with his wife Betty, to whom he has been married for over 50 years. In 2000, Andy and Betty were named Citizens of the Year for their dedication and active participation in the community. And, in 2010, Andy was elected into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame, the first grower to be honored with this prestigious wine industry award.

Click here to learn more about how Andy is betting big on Lake County as the next great Cab region.



Clay Shannon of Shannon RidgeMeet Clay Shannon

Clay Shannon is President and CEO of Shannon Ridge Family of Wines.  He grew up in Healdsburg and ran a large vineyard management company in the Central Valley before moving to Lake County.

In 1996, Shannon bought his home ranch property with 80 acres of volcanic soils and elevations rising to 2,500 feet in High Valley.  Today, Clay farms over 1,600 acres of winegrapes in Lake County, raises grass fed lamb, and heads up Shannon Ridge Family of Wines.  The recipient of numerous accolades, he was named to 2013 list of America’s 100 Most Influential Winemakers by Schiller Wine, a daily international wine blog.

Clay describes himself as “normal people – We shake hands, we say thank you, we say please.”  Things he is passionate about:  Lake County wine, family, farming the north coast and taking care of mother earth.  Click the link below to hear more about Clay and his philosophy as a grower in the latest video on Shannon Ranch Values.


Lake County Winegrape Commission - Over 25 Years of Marketing, Research, & Education

Established in 1991, the Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) has been instrumental in developing the Lake County region’s unwavering commitment to farming high-quality winegrapes. A state agency with oversight by the California Department of Food & Agriculture, LCWC represents approximately 180 winegrape growers farming approximately 9,500 acres of vineyards in Lake County and works on behalf of those growers in the areas of marketing, research, and education.

Visit the Lake County Winegrape Commission website here