Big Valley District Lake County
In actuality, Big Valley isn’t all that big. Early pioneers to the area gave the name to the area, and it just kind of stuck. It’s those first settlers who recognized the potential of the area for agriculture and named it the “garden spot of Lake County,” where ‘‘small fruits and berries thrive here also, as do grapes.’’
The Big Valley District is a bowl-shaped valley at around 1,360 feet above sea level, which may be high for California but on the low side for Lake County. It’s generally flat in topography and gently slopes downward to the north towards Clear Lake, which has a cooling influence on the area. Its proximity to the lake, along with cool air draining from surrounding higher elevations make this area one of the coolest of the Lake County AVAs. In addition, the area is in a slight “rain shadow” of the surrounding mountains which means that the area is very dry compared to other areas. These cool and dry conditions provide ideal climate for growing varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc which thrive here.
I have been making wine with Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Windrem Vineyard in Big Valley for seven years. This vineyard has lots of gravel and alluvial well-drained soil. The vineyard is not a heavy producer and the vines have a nice open canopy. The Sauvignon Blanc that I make from these grapes has floral with summer stone fruits – a really nice wine!