Lake County Wine Studio

Lake County Wine Studio features the wines of the region on Main Street in the town of Upper Lake, just a stone’s throw from the end of Highway 29. We all know the congested bit of this highway where the cars crawl through St. Helena. Where it ends near Upper Lake is anything but. This region has in many ways yet to be discovered, making it a destination for foodies and wine lovers wishing to escape the more crowded wine routes to the south.

Susan Feiler features over 50 wines from Lake County in her studio, as well as local artists. Twelve wineries are represented that you can’t really find otherwise, as they are small and family run and yet to open their own tasting rooms.

The artists typically change monthly but when I visited in June there was an extended showing of the dramatic work of bronze sculptor Rolf Kriken, with a show called Voices from the other side.

Here are notes on 3 of the star bottles tasted during my visit:

Atasacadero Creek, Lake County, Di Ricco Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc 2008 This is very ripe smelling Sauvignon, featuring the tropical fruit you savor during your Hawaiian holidays. The acidity is refreshing and the palate is not as austere as Sauvignon can sometimes be. The mouth is sprinkled with the taste of fresh citrus – very nice.

The Di Ricco Vineyard is in Upper Lake, just east of Sleeper Peak. Upper Lake is an area noted for its gravel at about 1300 feet elevation, about level with Clear Lake itself. The region’s fruit finds its way into wines produced in Napa and Sonoma. Geyser Peak, winning countless awards for its Sauvignon, draws on fruit from this area. Cellared and bottled in Sebastopol, 14.3% $18 in the tasting room. Atascadero Creek

Bell Hill, Lake County, Merlot 2005 The nose features sweet notes of vanilla and cherries while the mouth repeats with ripe tannins, just to let you know they are there – very nice.

The grapes for this wine were sourced from Bell Hill in Big Valley, on the south side of Clear Lake. P&B in Kelseyville 13.5% $23 in the tasting room Bell Hill

Zoom, Lake County, Top of Konocti Vineyard, Zinfandel 2005 The expression of fruit is sweet with notes of raisin, cinnamon and hints of la garrigue. The mouth is quite fruity with moderate structure and lingering vanilla. The acidity carries the flavor for a long time. The vineyard providing the fruit for this wine is one of the highest in the county, located at 3,000 feet, facing southwest on Mount Konocti. The vines are head trained, organically farmed and were planted about 13 years ago. P&B in Kelseyville 14.9% $28.50 at the tasting room. Zoom

About Ray

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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