In 1995, Clay and Margarita Shannon first visited the magnificent mountain property that would become Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery. The vineyards hugged the mountain ridges along the southeast edge of the High Valley AVA. At 2,200 feet they could see the blue waters of Clear Lake, the oldest lake in North America. Turning to the west they could see the lava flows and alluvial fan of the ancient lake bed on the valley floor, and from the north they could anticipate cold night winds from Snow Mountain in the Mendocino National Forest. Surrounded by dramatic landscapes and pristine wilderness, the Shannons were hooked.
They found challenge in the rustic beauty of the Lake County hills—not that they wanted to tame them, but to accept them and what they could become. By 2003, Clay was farming the property using sustainable practices to create harmony between the grapes and the land. Clay’s multi-dimensional palette of grapes turned out to be perfect for Shannon Ridge wine, and in 2006 Shannon Ridge was named the “Hottest New Wine Brand” by Wine Business Monthly. The winery was singled out for its performance in 2011 by Jon Fredrikson of the wine industry consulting firm Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, who named it one of ten Hot California Wineries in 2011.
While Clay has been busy planting and tending vines, he has also developed a herd of more than 1,000 sheep. The sheep work as vineyard compost machines, weed thinners, and canopy trimmers. The Shannon Ranch property is home to coyotes, bears, bobcats, and an occasional mountain lion, but thanks to trusty dogs and fences, the wild animals and sheep co-exist at a safe distance from one another, and the vineyards are able to thrive.
For Shannon Ridge and this family, Lake County is the stuff dreams are made of. Wine lovers can share the Shannons’ vision in each glass, poured in the new Shannon Ridge tasting room and marketplace.