The Diamond Ridge Vineyards name derives from the Lake County diamonds found on the property. It was early spring 2000, and I was standing on avolcanic cornice in the middle of the ranch with two irrigation engineers. We were discussing the engineering challenges that we might face when we began trenching in the different soils types, the various types of rock, and the ridge we were perched upon. It was that very moment that we focused on the diamonds found in the rocks below, and the name Diamond Ridge Vineyards sprang to life.
Diamond Ridge is located on the volcanic hillsides north of the town of Clearlake. The eastern shores of Clear Lake are just over the hill, one mile or so. No flat ground here! Elevations range from 1,400 feet at the south end of the ranch to 2,200 feet at the North end. Google reference points would be State Highway 53, which parallels the vineyard on the eastern edge for two miles as to runs north toward the junction of State Highway 20, our northern boundary.
The ranch has a long history, 770 aces in all; it once was part of a much larger cattle operation dating back to the 1850′s. We of course saw something entirely different, believing the combination of igneous soils, altitude, and lake effect would impart very special characteristics in winegrapes. Construction began in 2000 and saw our hillsides planted to a complete collection of red Bordeaux varietals including an extensive Cabernet Sauvignon clonal selection that year.
The soils at Diamond Ridge consist of ancient lake bed combined with volcanic rock, having been pushed up from the depths by eons of volcanism. The higher elevations of the ranch are predominately igneous formations which have combined with the old lake bed. In the center you will find that volcanics dominate the scene. The lower elevations tend toward well drained gravelly clay loams having an orange hue, provided from iron-rich silts washed down from the volcanic hills above. Adding a note of complexity, a glacial moraine containing coarsely ground sedimentary rock was deposited atop one hillside ages ago.
Cooling afternoon breezes help our grapes retain their fruity aromas and prevent sunburn. This results in a low Region III environment conducive to ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, while cool nights retain acidity. Fog-free thin air exposes our fruit to continuous bright sun. This combination of high incident light and moderate temperatures results in remarkable color and vibrant fruit which rarely exhibits vegetal aspects. Excellent drainage, mowed cover crops and the composition of granitic soils impart tremendous mineral energy.
In sum, our site provides a perfect laboratory for experimentation with Bordeaux varieties. Winemakers love to visit us near harvest to observe the flavor differences among clones and the influences of differing soils. Winery clients select clonal recipes, according to their stylized needs, generally comprising two to four selections.
When the time is right, and companion cultivar/terroir matches have been determined, we plan to complete our holdings by planting an additional 150 acres previously reserved for this purpose.
Click here to see a Google Earth ‘flyover’ of our location