2021 CLAY SHANNON Pinot Noir Long Valley Ranch

CLAY SHANNON Pinot Noir Long Valley Ranch

¥4,290 (incl. tax)

Does the idea of Pinot Noir from inland Lake County cause a bit of cognitive dissonance? Fear not, as the qualities of Clay Shannon Pinot Noir — from the light garnet color to the bright red fruit aromas and zippy acidity – really can measure up against many a wine from the coastal vineyards of Sonoma. The Long Valley is unusual in that runs East-West, instead of the usual North-South. Planted at an elevation of 400 m., the vineyard is situated between mountains that soar up to over 900 m. Cool air funneled in from Clear Lake and wide diurnal temperature swings make for excellent acidities and fruit flavors. In 2021, 60% was sourced from the Long Valley Ranch,  on the High Valley side of Clear Lake, while 11% came from Red Hills (on the other end of the lake) and 22% from outside the county.


Winery Description

Besides making delicious – and affordable – wine, the Shannon Family of Wines is dedicated to two things: championing Lake County as a premier wine region and sustainable farming.

Located to the north of Napa County, Lake County is remote, mountainous, and underpopulated. A dominant feature is Clear Lake, California’s largest natural lake and the oldest lake in North America. The mountains in Lake County form the top end of the Mayacamas Range, where eons of volcanic activity generated the red dirt and well-drained soils that have attracted wine growers, such as Clay Shannon, to the region. At the end of the 19th century, Lake County rivaled Napa for acres under vine and prize-winning wineries. Sadly, almost all the vineyards were ripped out during prohibition, and for decades fruit and nut orchards dominated the agricultural landscape. Since the 1970s, with vineyards again expanding and new wineries being established, better understanding of the terroir around the region has led to the designation of seven Lake County AVAs. Some of the conditions that influence Lake County wine include high-elevation mountain vineyards, volcanic or alluvial soils, strong breezes and winds, cold winters, warm and dry summers, wide diurnal swings in temperature, pure air, and intense UV light. This terroir favors the hardy, California stalwarts Zinfandel and Petite Sirah as well as Bordeaux and Rhone reds. Cooler sites have significant plantings of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. Some wineries are experimenting with Italian and Spanish varieties that may be well-adapted to dry conditions.

Clay Shannon spent much of his career as a vineyard manager in the Napa Valley, but a desire to farm his own vineyards, and, as he puts it, to plant vineyards in mountains and in red dirt led him to start buying and cultivating land in Lake County. Since 1996, The Shannon Family of Wines has acquired about 2,000 acres (800 hectares) across several Lake County AVAs, with about half of that under vine and the rest remaining as natural forest. The company produces wine under several labels, including Clay Shannon, Shannon Ridge, Ovis, High Valley, Buck Shack, Vigilance, Urgency, and Playtime. In 2020, Shannon acquired the Steele Winery, also in Lake County, that was founded by legendary winemaker, Jeb Steele.

Because Clay Shannon spent much of his career as a vineyard manager, he manages his wine business and his estate with enormous reverence for responsible stewardship of the land. But Shannon also believes, “Sustainability isn’t some philosophical concept; it’s the way we live our lives.” Vineyards are farmed organically; friendly insects, bats, and predatory hawks and owls are introduced to control all manner of pests. Soils are kept healthy by composting organic materials, eliminating use of herbicides, and using flocks of sheep to mow down plants and deliver natural fertilizer. Wildlife corridors are maintained to connect tracts of forest so that wildlife, including deer, coyotes, and even bear, can migrate effortlessly. With adequate rainfall and water always a concern, vineyards are planted to drought-resistant rootstocks, and the winery is experimenting with grape varieties well-adapted to dry conditions, such as Nero d’Avola and Counoise.

About this Wine

Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Lake County
Winery Shannon Family of Wines
Vintage 2021
Color Red
Varietal(s) Pinot Noir
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 8.0 x 29.5
Case Size 33.5 x 25.5 x 30.5
Alcohol 13.5%
Product Code CS21PN
UPC 850005509356

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

92 points – Wine Enthusiast (2020 vintage).

Light garnet in color, the wine starts with aromas of fresh plum and cherry pie. On the palate, flavors of dried cherry and cranberries are accented with notes of vanilla and tobacco. A bright, versatile, food-friendly wine.



Aged in 25% new French oak for 12 months.

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