Guenoc Valley AVA
Folks have been growing grapes in the Guenoc Valley for a long time. The area derives its name from the Rancho Guenoc, an original land grant from the Mexican Government to George Rock in 1845. It’s unclear whether Rock himself grew grapes, but in 1888, the famous stage actress and socialite, Lillie Langtry, purchased a 4,000 acre ranch in the Valley which already had a planted vineyard and winery. The winery operated until Prohibition, only to see new life in 1981 when a new winery was built to resemble the old Langtry barn which still stands across from the Gebhard Hunting Lodge two miles south of the winery. Guenoc Valley became an AVA in December 1981 and it was the first time an AVA designation was granted to an area with just a single winery.
Guenoc Valley is quite close to the northern border of Napa county, sitting just over the Tephra Ridge. The area is at a relatively low elevation for Lake County (only about 1,000 feet), making it one of the warmer areas (relatively speaking).
Guenoc Valley is, as the best viticultural areas are, unique and difficult. The Romans had a saying, “Bacchus amat colles,” or, “Bacchus loves the hills” because the best wine always seemed to come from the least fertile terrain. The Guenoc Valley supports these claims with its foothill setting and shallow serpentine rock laden soils. The wonderful diurnal Mediterranean temperatures along with low yields, force the vines to focus on the grapes. The result is intense flavors and ideal maturing conditions.