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May 02nd
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Home News Latest Big Valley District and Kelsey Bench American Viticultural Areas approved

Big Valley District and Kelsey Bench American Viticultural Areas approved

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KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – David Weiss, chairman of the Big Valley District and Kelsey Bench Growers Committee, announced the recent publication of the final rule establishing two new American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs in Lake County by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Weiss noted that the process to finally getting these new AVAs approved was a lengthy one.

“The addition of these two new AVAs helps to further define the distinct characteristics of Lake County as a wine region,” Weiss said. “The committee knew that both of these areas were unique growing regions that needed to be formally recognized with the creation of these AVAs.”

Members of the grower committee included Weiss, Don Eutenier, Vincent Price, Walt Lyon, Buz Dereniuk and Steve Tylicki.

Rick Gunier, CPI Marketing, was hired by the committee to work with them on making this vision a reality.

“Big Valley was one of the first areas to plant winegrapes after Prohibition in Lake County,” Gunier said. “Kendall-Jackson got its start in this area. I am pleased to see both the Big Valley and Kelsey Bench finally getting the recognition for their unique characteristics that these areas have long deserved.”

“This was really a team effort,” said Terry Dereniuk, author of both petitions. “I could not have completed the project without the help of our local growers who shared the history and data that supported establishment of both AVAs.”

Myron Holdenried, owner of Holdenried Vineyards and one of the first to plant winegrapes in this area in the 1960’s, added, “We have always felt the Kelsey Bench produced very unique grapes and wines and deserved special recognition.”

“We are excited to see the establishment of officially recognized AVAs for these two long-time viticultural areas,” said Debra Sommerfield, president of the Lake County Winegrape Commission. “This recognition underscores the distinct qualities that make Lake County a uniquely diverse and fascinating high-elevation winegrowing region – a region formed by volcanic and tectonic forces and carved by the flows of an ancient lake.”

Nick Buttita, chair of the Lake County Winery Association Board of Directors shared Sommerfield’s enthusiasm. “The establishment of these AVAs gives wineries another tool to tell the story of their wine to consumers. Including the name of the AVA on the wine label identifies the location where the grapes were grown and our distinctiveness.”

The Big Valley District-Lake County AVA covers approximately 11,000 acres of land with six bonded wineries, 43 vineyards and roughly 1,800 acres planted.

Once part of the ancient lakebed of Clear Lake, this area is covered in prime agricultural soils. It was the first settlement in Lake County and has a long history of agricultural activity.

The boundaries of this region include Clear Lake to the north, Mount Konocti and the Red Hills-Lake County AVA to the east, Merritt Road and Bell Hill Road to the south, and Highland Springs Road to the west. Sauvignon Blanc is the most widely planted varietal in this area.

The Kelsey Bench-Lake County AVA includes about 9,100 acres with one bonded winery and 27 vineyards. Vineyard acreage totals about 900 acres with many acres planted to red varietals.

The term “bench” was selected to reflect the topography of the area with higher elevations and hills.

Rich soils cover a large portion of the Kelsey Bench with good drainage favorable to growing grapes.

The boundaries of the Kelsey Bench AVA are the Big Valley District to the north, the 1,600-foot elevation line that runs east of Kelsey Creek to the east, Kelsey Creek Drive to the south, and Adobe Creek Drive to Highland Springs Road to the west.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau published the final rule establishing the Big Valley District and Kelsey Bench AVAs in the Federal Register on Oct. 2. The rule will become final 30 days from the date of publication.

A complete description of the boundary lines for the new AVAs can be viewed in the Federal Register for Oct. 2, available online at .

2013 Lake County AVAs

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Comments (1)Add Comment
written by truth1318, October 14, 2013
all the good things listed here about the growing conditions are true. my concern is how long will they last. you can't have good soil for very long if the grape growers keep using cancer causing pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. no one is even checking on what these chemicals are. some contain flouride, arsnic,aluminum, barium, ect. all of these chemicals have been outlawed in other countries for food production. could the nastiness of the lake be do to the run off, possibly be from the 80 years or so of pear production and the spraying of these same chemicals and things like ddt? now the grape industry has moved in and all i see is the lake getting worse, do you think it's because of the grape spraying? i know people tend to think this industry is going to save the county, but ruining the water and the land that surrounds us here just to have a few people have jobs does not make much sense. maybe it's time to start thinking about what we are leaving the future generations of lake county. do we want to leave them a chemical waste land with a lake so toxic you can't even let your dog play in it much less your children? or should we teach them to be stewards of the land and how to preserve it? peace

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