Grenache Blanc – Grenache Blanc, being one of the main grapes of the Southern Rhone region, does well in Lake County’s climate. This grape can grow both in the hills and on the flats of Lake County. It performs best in well drained volcanic soil found in the hills and bench lands, versus the clay and loam of the valley floors in Lake County.
Roussanne – This late ripening grape performs excellently in Lake County’s climate if not over cropped. With Lake County’s condensed growing season, this warm climate grape needs good sun exposure and a full growing season to fully ripen. It is recommended that this varietal be planted with a south or westerly aspect with good sun exposure.
Marsanne – There is very little Marsanne planted in Lake County, but, from what is planted, this varietal does quite well. Although not as late ripening as Roussanne, Marsanne does well in Lake County’s warm climate and can be planted alongside varietals like Roussanne.
Picpoul Blanc – Little Picpoul Blanc is planted in Lake County (or the US). From what is planted, we’ve seen great success in areas with lots of sun exposure throughout the day. This varietal, like Roussanne, is a late ripening grape and needs the full growing season to fully develop allowing the high acidity in this grape to resolve on the vine.
Syrah – With Syrah’s diverse growing characteristics, there are two styles of syrah that can be produced in Lake County. A “warm climate” Syrah is grown well on the valley floor and on hillsides with good sun exposure (typically with a South or West facing aspect. A more “cool climate” Syrah can also be produce on hillsides with limited sun exposure (typically North facing). Syrah tends to be best in well-drained, rocky soils where the vines can dig deep into the terrior to produce unique flavors.
Grenache – Grenache flourishes in Lake County’s climate. This warm climate grape grows well on many aspects, with a south or west facing aspect preferred. This grape grows well on hillsides with well-drained soil to produce a smaller grape with a thicker skin in order to make a more intense red wine. This grape can also be grown in the valleys where it can produce a fairly heavy crop used in producing a Rose wine. Although this grape is considered a late ripening grape, it tend to easily ripen in Lake County’s warmer regions.
Mourvedre – Mourvedre is a late ripening grape much like that of Roussanne or Counoise. It also has a tendency to produce a large crop. If the crop is too large, it can be a challenge for the Mourvedre grape to fully ripen with Lake County’s condensed growing season. This varietal grow best in well-drained, rocky soils. Mourvedre vines can produce a fairly large grape which is good for Rosé, but uninteresting for a red wine. With Lake County’s higher elevation, we have seen Mourvedre thrive, producing a smaller, more interesting grape when grow in the higher elevations and on the hillsides in Lake County.
Cinsault – Although there are few planting of Cinsault in Lake County, this grape has grown very well, producing 90+ point wines. If producing Rosé wine, Cinsault is an excellent choice in Lake County’s valleys, allowing the vines to produce a large, bountiful crop. In producing a Red wine, Cinsault is best in well-drained, rocky soils found in the hillside of Lake County. The higher elevations are best for Cinsault, causing it to produce smaller berries for more flavorful, intense wines.
Counoise – This late ripening grape can be a challenge to fully ripen with Lake County’s condensed growing season. The crop load must be managed, much like that of Mourvedre, for the vines to produce a mature grape. This highly acidic grape needs time on the vine for the acid to resolve. Since Counoise can produce a large crop, there are two ways to farm it: 1. on hillsides with well drained soils to produce a red wine; or 2. In the valley’s with loam or clay soils to produce a heavier crop in order to make a Rose wine.
-Bryan Kane, Sol Rouge Vineyard & Winery