In the heart of Big Valley, nestled among vineyards and orchards, sits one of the largest retired pear processing plants in Lake County. While it no longer processes pears, the facility still serves as a cold storage and winery. A single car is parked on the massive concrete slab just in front of the large storage building that reads Mt. Konocti Growers, Inc. Off in the corner is a more modest building, parking area, and patio, home to Mt. Konocti Winery’s tasting room. This is a working winery, and the familiar aroma of wine fills the air. The left side of the building is filled with offices and cases of stacked wine. To the right lies the tasting room, a former office redecorated and transformed. A display rack holds a modest collection of hand-crafted wine bags, aprons, candles, and, of course, bottles of wine. Old photos and pear labels hang on the walls. A thoughtful wine bar made from two wine barrels and old pear packing boxes sits in the corner. It’s still possible to see the label on the boxes, another reminder of the history of the place. Originally started as the Lake County Fruit Exchange in 1926, there are plenty of stories here. Currently, much of their business is custom crush and wholesale, but they also create some uniquely Lake County wines, all grown from local grapes. Here are five great ones we recommend:
- 2016 Sauvignon Blanc: Lake County is filled with great Sauv Blancs, and this one is one of the best around. It’s a bright, crisp, fruit-forward wine filled with citrus notes that sit cleanly on the palate. It’s absolutely perfect for a summer picnic.
- 2016 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc: This late-harvest wine is truly unique. Most late-harvest wines are exceptionally sweet and have a syrup-like consistency. Mt. Konocti’s isn’t overly sweet and has the brightness of a Sauvignon Blanc with notes of honey and jasmine that fill the bouquet. Even if you don’t like sweet wines, this one is worth a try. Pairs well with Thai and summer salads.
- 2015 Rogers Vineyard Zinfandel: There are many ways to make a Zinfandel; it’s an old-fashioned grape with a lot of history. Mt. Konocti does one of the best. Notes of plum fill the bouquet and immediately present on the palate. And this wine lingers long, leaving a peppery tobacco finish. It’s the kind of wine meant to sip slowly and savor. Perfect with pasta and lamb.
- 2014 Lower Lake Cabernet Sauvignon: A big wine with big flavors. In the bouquet, you’ll notice the minerality famous in Lake County Cabs, which appears in the first sip, followed by notes of blackberry and cranberry that fill the palate. This wine is meant to be drunk by itself but also goes well with steak and barbecue.
- Lady of the Lake Sparkling Pear Wine: Made from estate-grown pears, this sparkling pear wine encompasses some of the most unique parts of Lake County. With a full bouquet of pear and softer bubbles than traditional sparkling wine, it’s the perfect drink for a celebration.
If you’re looking for a charming and unpretentious Lake County experience, relaxed and filled with stories, there are few better places to visit.
2550 Big Valley Road
Tasting Room Hours: M-Th by appointment. Friday and Saturday 11-4. Closed Sunday.