For years, Mendocino and Lake counties served as sources of affordable grapes for its southern sisters, Napa and Sonoma. Now each region is establishing its own identity.
Comprised of 10 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), Mendocino County boasts the highest percentage of certified organic and biodynamic grapes in the nation.
Parducci Wine Cellars is Mendocino County’s oldest winery, still going strong after more than 80 years, having been founded in 1932. Fetzer Vineyards started here in the 1960s and continues to be a global force in organic grape growing. Mendocino also receives renown for its Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and Alsatian whites.
Once a popular resort destination, Lake County today depends more on wine than tourists. Its 8,380 acres of vineyards ring around Clear Lake, one of the oldest lakes in North America.
It’s largely around this geological wonder that 140-some growers have made their living selling affordable grapes.
In recent years, the buzz has revolved around the Red Hills Lake County subappellation. High in elevation and rich in red volcanic soils, the district is becoming known for high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon.