Shannon Ridge winery owners Clay and Margarita Shannon are expanding their portfolio of Lake County wines. The couple has purchased High Valley Vineyard, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc producer located in the High Valley appellation in eastern Lake County. The sale includes the brand, an 80-acre property with a vineyard, and a tasting room on Highway 20. Details of the sale were not disclosed.
The sale reconnects the Shannons with land they once owned. They traded the undeveloped property that would become High Valley Vineyard to Dustin Brassfield (no affiliation to Brassfield Estate Winery) in the late 1990s for a contiguous parcel of land higher in the hills. In 2003 Brassfield planted 40 acres on the site, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Sauvignon Blanc, and founded High Valley Vineyard.
The Shannons had been interested in the land for several years and purchased the brand because they wanted a label with the High Valley name and appellation. ”There are some retailers out there that are looking for the High Valley [appellation] name,” said Clay Shannon. He says Brassfield decided to sell the brand because he wanted to get out of the wine business.
The couple is keeping the High Valley name and hopes to find national distribution for the brand. The vineyard is being renamed to Betsy’s Vineyard in honor of Clay’s mother, who succumbed to cancer. According to Shannon, the plan is to expand the vineyard with an additional 30 acres of vines this year. Along with Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc, they will produce a Bordeaux blend from the property, with part of the proceeds going to cancer research.
The Shannons first became interested in Lake County in the late 1980s while Clay was working as director of vineyard operations for Sutter Home winery. In 1995 they found a mountain property in High Valley and established the Shannon Ridge winery later. They now own over 1,400 acres in the appellation, with a third of the land planted to a mix of white and red grapes. The vineyards are certified sustainable and the couple owns a flock of 1,000 sheep that help with leaf removal and canopy management.
The brand will increase the size of the couple’s wine company, Shannon Ridge Family of Wines, which makes five other brands including the Vigilance and Dalliance labels. “We are the largest winery and vineyard operator in the [High Valley] appellation,” said Clay. The Shannons don’t have plans to buy more properties but will focus on building their current brands. “Our goal is to get up to 300,000 cases.”
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