This year, one of the new exhibitors to wow the crowd at Minnesota Monthly’s Food & Wine Experience was the Lake County Winery Association, hailing from northern California, eager to share its award-winning wines.
Just three hours north of San Francisco, Lake County’s wineries dot the hills around Clear Lake, where wine grapes have been grown for a century. In the last few years, wineries from this region have been recognized by Wine Traveler, Sunset Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Lake County’s ability to compete with these iconic wine regions all comes down to its location. Clear Lake lies in the shadow of two of California’s youngest dormant volcano sites, Cobb Mountain and Mount Konocti—meaning the soil is rich in minerals needed to grow healthy wine grapes. The high elevation allows the sun direct access to the vineyards, so the grapes soak up not only the minerals in the soil, but easily intake nourishment from the sun.
In addition, the warm climate in sunny California keeps the grapes comfortable during the day, while Lake County’s location in the northern part of the state allows for cool nights, making for uniquely rich flavors that rival Napa’s famous wines. Visiting wine enthusiasts love to sip and stroll through ancient olive trees at Boatique Winery, enjoy the famous Cabernet Sauvignons of Thorn Hill Vineyards, or try Laujor Estate Vineyard’s award-winning 2020 Sangiovese.
Lake County is well-recognized for its excellence in the wine world, yet it remains a hidden gem due to its rugged, rural mountain location. With over 20 wineries to choose from, guests can enjoy wine tastings and stunning vineyard views and truly relax, taking in the fine wines that this rich environment and incredible community has created.