Here is a quick look at two wineries in Lake County owned by Clay and Margarita Shannon. Clay Shannon is one of the pioneers of Lake County wineries, owning many acres of vineyards in the Red Hills AVA* and the High Valley AVA. On our recent trip to Lake County, we took a vineyard tour of both these areas where Clay Shannon grows grapes for the Shannon Ridge and Vigilance labels.
Clay Shannon had been the vineyard manager for the Sutter Home wineries in the Napa Valley before embarking on a new career as vineyard and winery owner. He selected the Lake County area not just because the land was affordable but also because the grape- growing conditions are perfect. The higher altitudes (2200 – 3000ft) and the beautiful volcanic soils couldn’t be more ideal for growing all the main varietal grapes. The Shannons own a thousand plus acres in these two wine areas and about half of those are planted with vines. Most of the grapes in the Shannon Ridge area are sold to several wineries, including a few major players in the Napa Valley. Shannon Ridge Winery keeps enough grapes to produce 40,000 cases of wine annually. The vineyards are sustainably farmed and much attention is paid to making the smallest possible carbon footprint on the land. There are two lines of the Shannon Ridge label, the Ranch Collection and the Single Vineyard Collection. The Ranch Collection wines are very reasonably priced, and one can find them discounted online or at wine shops like BevMo. Our choices for the best values in the Shannon Ridge wines we tasted: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, all priced at between $11 and $14 at our local wine stores. Should you be traveling in Lake County, the Shannon Ridge tasting room is located at 12599 East Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423. You can also call the winery and arrange for a vineyard tour. We suggest you do; you will be totally surprised at the beauty of these vineyards.
At the Vigilance tasting room overlooking the Red Hills AVA, you have spectacular views of Clear Lake and the bird sanctuary just below the tasting room. These vineyards are characterized by a reddish-orange volcanic soil. The Vigilance tasting room is located at 3888 Point Lakeview Rd, Lower Lake, CA 95457, and you can also taste the Shannon Ridge wines at this location. One of the most interesting things we discovered while at the tasting room was that the winery has an agreement with Beverages & More wine stores. Vigilance is one of BevMo’s “Vineyard Partners,” and we gathered that this agreement means that the only place outside the tasting room the popular Vigilance wines can only be sold is at BevMo stores. The discounts are fantastic. If you buy them out of the tasting room, the Cimarron, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Sauvignon Blanc are priced about twice as high as at BevMo. Wow! We did find an outrageously delicious Vigilance Tempranillo for $40 and believe me I wish BevMo were selling this wine. It is so good!
* AVA = American Viticulture Area (official wine growing area)