Lake County Wines

Posted by Keith Wallace

It Nevers Snows In Lake County

“It never snows in Lake County.” That’s what we were told by the person working at a Lake County winery. We had come to Napa/Sonoma for an escape from the NJ winter, and, given our enjoyment of an off-the-beaten-path winery experience, we had planned a day trip to Lake County, north of Napa County.

We called a random winery in Lake after seeing a winter storm warning noted for the towns in Lake County on my weather app. The description referred to various elevations, so my significant other thought it referred to snow in the mountains, but then I couldn’t understand why all of the towns had warnings. After hearing from the winery representative that we needn’t worry about snow and the drive over from Napa would be simple, we planned to proceed the next day.

Local Dissonance

But I had some cognitive dissonance. I have a very reliable weather app, but two locals assured us that the weather would be fine (someone at a Sonoma winery confirmed this as well). I wasn’t sure how to resolve this dissonance, so I opted for the belief that I liked better – the one that allowed us to keep our travel plans to Lake County. I rationalized that perhaps I suddenly couldn’t interpret the weather app correctly, or I don’t understand how the weather works in northern California.

So the next day, we headed out on the windy country road, wet but not snowy or icy. We came to a T in the road at one point with a flashing sign that said ‘Snow on Mt. St. Helena.’ My significant other naively (or hopefully) stated, “Maybe we aren’t going up Mt. St. Helena,” but of course we were. In fact, we went up and over Mt. St. Helena with its twisty, windy roads. There was snow, but fortunately, it wasn’t actively snowing.

Tasting in a in Lake County Blizzard

Once we got to the bottom of the mountain and into the southernmost town in Lake County, the blizzard started. The white flakes streamed down, and visibility was limited. My significant other (stealing my “I told you so” moment) said, “I guess you were right about this one.” But being from NJ and accustomed to driving in the snow, we proceeded into Lake County searching for their wineries, and it turned out that we were glad we did.

Gregory Graham Winery

Our first Lake County winery stop was Gregory Graham Winery. A lovely vineyard landscape; on this day, lightly blanketed by snow. We entered the small but warm tasting room and were greeted by a friendly person with a thorough knowledge of the area. We enjoyed an informative tasting and learned that the winemaker, schooled at UC-Davis, was quite talented. We debated between three wines as to which one to purchase and ultimately went with the fruity Zinfandel.

Lajour Estate Winery

From there, we proceeded to Lajour Estate Winery, owned by David and Cheryl Lucido. Cheryl is the winemaker; she used to be in mortgages until she decided to move to Lake County and own a vineyard. The property had been for sale by a woman who had since moved to Texas. Cheryl said the woman kept declining offers, perhaps because they were below market value until Cheryl sent her a letter with an offer that was a fair market price the woman sold.

The light-filled tasting room has a large window overlooking a beautiful landscape. The two photos below from this vineyard show you how wacky the weather was that day – the first one is from before the tasting, and the second is from after (which only lasted about a half-hour). We had a delightful conversation with Ms. and Mr. Lucido and purchased an interesting white wine.

Boatique Winery

Moving on to Boatique Winery, we had a brief tasting in a lovely tasting room and then enjoyed the owner’s collection of wooden boats on display in the next room. Certainly a unique winery feature.
Lastly, we went to Fore Family Vineyards, a storefront property on Main Street in Kelseyville. The town itself is quaint and hosts four wineries. The tasting at Fore Family was poured by the owners’ son, who is studying winemaking to become the family winemaker.

I would say friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and supportive of their up-and-coming wine area sums up the Lake County winery experience. And, just to note, it can snow there. 

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