What’s new in Lake County, California

I spent a few hours yesterday with Clay Shannon, owner of Shannon Ridge Winery, chatting about what’s been going on with him, his wines, and of course the wild fires that have decimated Lake County – where he and his vineyards are located.

Clay and Margarita Shannon

Seems one of the wildfires began just south of the Vigilance vineyard (quite nerve-wracking for Clay and his family, I can imagine.) Fortunately the fire moved east, away from village and vineyard into a rather rural area where little economic damage was done.

The next blaze was not so forgiving, burning over 600 homes, including the home of Mike Wood, owner/winemaker at Shedhorn Cellars, formerly the winemaker with Shannon Ridge. Clay mentioned that he was sending grape samples to a local lab to check on any damage the smoke may have caused to the grapes, and so far, he was happy to say, there was none.

Vigilance Vineyard overlooking Anderson Marsh

We did taste, and he did explain a little about the two new wines from his portfolio which you will be seeing in stores soon. The first was the new Cross Springs Pinot Noir 2014. Although the wine is under the Cross Springs label, the Pinot fruit did not come from the Cross Springs vineyard. In fact, it didn’t even come from Lake County.

Clay has been asked for years about offering a Pinot Noir, and finally he found a small source for fruit east of Lake County in neighboring Colusa County. Never heard of it? Me neither. He chose to put the Colusa County appellation on the label rather than opt for a ‘California’ designation because he is Clay Shannon, and darn it, it’s his choice. We tasted the wine, and it is in our stores now. At $12.99 it shows a rather light color, which is often the case with Pinot Noir (not Pinot Sirah) and an elegant, soft, cherry fruit aroma surrounded by medium body with no noticeable tannins… For the price, certainly a good drink.

Shayne blog

We also sampled a new concept red wine which should be here very shortly; Buck House red. Clay converted an old shack in the middle of one of his vineyards into a… well… a place to get a drink, and I don’t mean water. When he has groups out, they party a little and this is one of the party spots. Very, very small shed converted into a watering hole, and since this was his dream for years, he created a wine to commemorate the establishment! In his mind, the Buck Shack is something out of an old western movie, so in keeping with that theme, he designed the Buck House label to look more like a whiskey label than a wine label. All in good fun! The wine is predominately Zinfandel, so think something along the lines of Wrangler Red with some spicy Zinfandel notes! Don’t have the price, or a label shot, but look for it, you will be glad you did!

Shayne Hebert, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine and spirits supervisor

Follow me on Twitter @abcwineSHayne

Read more about Shannon Ridge Vineyards in our current issue of Wine Journal! 

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