The Climate of Red Hills Wine Country
The Climate of Red Hills is Suited for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay Wine Production
The Red Hills AVA is located west of Clear Lake in Lake County. Clear Lake has the largest surface area of any fresh water body in California. The lake cools the Red Hills a bit, but because the region is elevated, it is still very sunny and warm.
During summer, warm days give way to significantly cooler evenings and nights. Like many inland wine regions, temperatures can vary tremendously within a 24 hour period. During July and August, this fluctuation can be as much as 50 degree Fahrenheit.
But the region’s constant winds moderate temperature swings in summer and early spring. These winds raise temperatures a few critical degrees on early spring mornings when frost is a threat. This is particularly important right after budbreak when the shoots are the most vulnerable.
While Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are well suited to lower elevations that are closer to the lake, more elevated vineyards are usually planted with fuller bodied red varietals. Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards produce small berries with a high skin to juice ratio. These grapes make full bodied, flavorful wines. They have spicy flavors of cherry, black berry, and black currant. Some very good Zinfandel and Syrah is also grown, albeit in smaller quantities.
Andy Beckstoffer owns 2,000 acres of land in the Red Hills that he plans to eventually plant with 1,100 acres of vines. George Meyers owns 800 acres of vines, including Snows Lake Vineyard. Chalone buys grapes from Snows Lake. Beringer owns about 220 acres of vines planted with Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The region gets about 25 to 40 inches of rain a year.
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