Appellation – “a defined grape growing region having distinguishing features… and a name and a delineated boundary…” U. S. Department of the Treasury
The Lake County wine-growing region is part of the North Coast AVA. Lake, along with Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, lies along the spine of the Mayacamas Mountains, the most distinctive geographical feature of the six county North Coast winegrowing regions.
The Clear Lake AVA, a sub-appellation of North Coast, was recognized in 1984. The appellation covers more than 219,000 acres surrounding Clear Lake with microclimates and varying soils. Elevations range from 1,300 feet to well over 3,000 feet.
As the Lake County wine industry has continued to grow, additional AVAs have been created to distinguish the unique growing regions. Currently, Lake County has six recognized sub-appellations: High Valley AVA, Guenoc Valley AVA, Red Hills – Lake County AVA, Big Valley District AVA, Kelsey Bench AVA, and Benmore Valley AVA. Two additional AVAs have been proposed for approval.
Benmore Valley AVA located in southwestern Lake County, is within a mountaintop valley that is much cooler than surrounding areas. Named for a 19th century cattle rustler, the Benmore Valley was established as an AVA in November 1991. Today, there is no viticultural activity in this area.
Each area is unique with its own terroir, or sense of place, that produces grapes and wines of compelling quality and character. To learn more about the appellations in Lake County, click on the links above.