Andy Beckstioffer Betting Big on Lake County

Earlier this year, famed grape grower Andy Beckstoffer had an offer for 10 winemakers looking to make their mark in the wine world. He would provide grapes for the next three harvests from his vineyards in the Red Hills wine region of Lake County — for free. Beckstoffer, whose stature comes from farming such renowned Napa properties as To Kalon and Las Piedras, made the deal to draw attention to the region at the foot of Mount Konocti. He contends Red Hills is the most promising cabernet sauvignon site outside of Europe…

Not sure what to make of all that. I can tell you we pay way more for Sauvignon Blanc here in Oregon than they do in Lake County. Maybe we should buy that and send it up here. Was surprised at the overall averages for different regions but took that with a grain of salt.

Anyone producing nice CS from that area today?

Might want to buy the property next to his…

Is he betting on Global Warming just dragging climate zones northward?

Never had a good bottle of Cab from Lake County.
I thought it was Tuck Beckstoffer territory.

Earnest question - how much of the greatness of the Beckstoffer vineyards is those sites versus the farming skill of Andy?

I guess I had mostly assumed those were just particularly good cabernet sites, not that Andy making a vineyard somewhere else would necessarily mean a whole lot, but as you can tell, I really haven’t thought about it much before now.

Brilliant idea.

Seiber, It’d be hypocracy if you didn’t claim terrior!

I’ve never spent time up there but I’m to believe it’s hotter there than Napa.

I’ve had very enjoyable Cabernets from Wild Hog that were made with Beckstoffer Amber Knolls Vineyard (Red Hills, Lake County) grapes. The Double Diamond Cabs from the same vineyard can be decent as well, if not overpriced.

I don’t know… there’s elevation up there and it’s really north.

My son had his wedding in Lake County and I hoped to find some wines from there that I would want to serve at the wedding. No luck. I did spend some time tasting once I got there. I think the area has promise, but I think too many winemakers are chasing a style that I never liked and which, IMO, is now losing favor. No idea whether Andy Beckstoffer is the person who could fix that.

Chris, you might want to check up on the history of how his Napa vineyards were acquired. It’s not a story that makes him look particularly interested in quality. Fortunately it didn’t work out his way.
Dick Peterson has something to say about this in his book.

No fans of 75 Wine Company? Obsidian Ridge? I know one of the Pride wines comes from Lake County, at least partly.

Andrew- You may want to check your subject line too.

Buzzkill! He can go out to Lake County and spank it if he wants!

I started working for Steele Wines here in Lake County just over a couple months ago, so take my words with a grain of salt and a handful of motivated self-interest but I have been consistently impressed with the QPR that Lake County offers.

Stylistically, no the Cabernet Sauvignons are not very similar to what you see in Napa County. Much more judicious use of oak, in general higher elevations and different soil profiles mean that while not an apples to oranges comparison with Napa Cabs, you are asking a Barlett Pear to taste like a Bosc (I’d use apple varieties but Lake County is also known for its pears).

As for Sauvignon Blancs, I have been consistently impressed by the quality that many wineries here produce. I also have been witness to how many trucks head south to Napa Co loaded with grapes in September and October. More than a few Napa Sauvignon Blancs are blended with 15% Lake Co fruit, some of which are priced well over $50 a bottle. The singular best bottle of Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had in years costs $18 locally.

Frankly, some of the best wines I’ve had in Lake County have not been Cab Sauv or Sauv Blanc. Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache, Viognier and interestingly Tempranillo all seem to have found sites where they excel here. I’ve also found a couple incredible Pinot Noirs but they are from young sites and truly need a few more vintages to really prove if they have the chops to compete.

There are some incredible Napa wines and I don’t want my comments to be misconstrued as my saying otherwise but the true power of Napa comes from its incredible skill marketing.

Stephen Derononcourt (he of Domaine de Chevalier, Clos Fourtet, Petit Village, Smith Haut Lafitte and Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse fame) makes (or made?) a reasonably attractive cab in Lake County

Drew - Can you name a few producers of Lake County merlot and zin that you feel are worth checking out? I’d be interested to give them a whirl.


Well said :wink:

Makes, and I think it’s like $50 or $55 retail? Seems steep for Lake County.