Lake County pioneers related to the Dancing Crow family

We were surprised to discover recently that buried in the Kelseyville pioneer cemetery within sight of the Old Stake 1901 Vineyard, is Charles A. Piner, who is the great-great-great-grandfather of Adam Forni, a co-owner of Dancing Crow Vineyards.


Charles and his wife Sarah, pictured above, set out from Missouri in the spring of 1850 with their infant son, George. Six months later they arrived in what is now Lake County, joining the region’s earliest settlers of european origin. He bought his 160-acre ranch near the town of Kelseyville with a yoke of oxen and $400 in cash. The family farmed, raised stock, started a general store, and planted some of the first pear orchards near Kelseyville. Pears were a good choice−Lake County later became known as the “Pear Capital of the World.” Charles died in 1904 aged 77.


The Old Stake 1901 Vineyard

Dancing Crow would like to introduce a new member of our family: the Old Stake 1901 Vineyard near Kelseyville. It offers a fascinating collection of ancient vines – some of which are 118 years old – making this one of the oldest vineyards in Lake County. As you can see in the photo below, some of the varietals are quite unusual – we’ll be exploring them more in future posts.

The wine from this site will become a true “Field Blend” and completely site-specific with at least 12 different varietals identified and fermented together.

This year’s first harvest went well, thanks to the diligent, mostly female vineyard workers, who carefully picked the grapes from these centenarian vines. Our winemakers, David and Katharine, love the quality of the fruit and are very excited about this wine’s rare and unique characteristics and potential.


Harvest 2017

Excellent quality and generous yields were seen throughout most of Lake County and its sub-appellations in 2017. Harvest began a week or so later than normal and continued through mid-October, with a few vintners still picking during the last week of the month. The rains of winter were well received and replenished the much-needed ground water, and were particularly valuable in helping the land to heal from the 2015 and 2016 wildfires.

The end of the growing season saw a few heat spikes, but no detrimental effects were reported as growers used preemptive irrigation to avert vine stress – and Lake County grapes tend to be more resilient due to their increased UV light exposure.

October saw a return to cooler temperatures, giving the fruit opportunity for longer hangtime, which winemakers reported, added to the depth and complexity of the 2017 vintage


Harvest 2016


After a lower temperature – but steady – growing season in Lake County, the fruit is finally in!!! We finished picking September 6th with great result. The grapes came in between 20 and 22 brix and are showing that distinctive Dancing Crow balance of stone fruit aromas with bright acidity and full, ripe flavors. Our winemakers David and Katharine DeSante have been meticulously tending to this new addition to the Dancing Crow Family, through pressing and fermentation processes. Our South African and Bordeaux yeasts have been added to different batches of the juice and have had their little yeast party. We are already noticing aromas of pear, papaya, peach, and lemon custard. The 2016 looks to be another well-balanced and complex vintage; showing off the true potential of Lake County to make exceptional Sauvignon Blanc.


Lake County Vineyard Life


Dancing Crow Vineyards is honored to become part of the Lake County Quilt Trail, a painted quilt tradition that has over 50 members around Clear Lake and over 2000 in the US and Canada. This wonderful piece of art was painted by the Quilt Trail ladies.


Dancing Crow Vineyards’ Winemaker Blog

David DeSante discusses the nuances of the rarely studied Positive Eyebrow Effect


Dancing Crow Vineyards’ Winemaker Blog

Dancing Crow Vineyards’ winemaker David DeSante describes his experience in our Lake County Sauvignon Blanc vineyard.


Wine Pairing Recipe: Scallop crudo with radishes – Chef Cindy Pawlcyn

Serves 4

  • 4pc super-fresh U-10 sea scallops
  • 1pc watermelon radish
  • 2pc French breakfast radish
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch hydroponic watercress or peppercress
  • 1 fresno chili
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt (preferably fleur de sel or Maldon salt)
  • 4 tablespoons chimichurri sauce (separate recipe*)


Place four 10” round or oval plates in the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you start preparing the recipe. Remove the small tough muscle on the side of each scallop (this is commonly called the ‘foot’). Rinse the scallops under cold water and pat dry with a paper towels. Hold the scallop upright on its side, and with a very sharp slicing knife, slice the scallop as thinly as you can, ideally no more than 1/8” thick. Each scallop should yield about 7 or 8 slices. Arrange each sliced scallop on a chilled plate, and brush well with olive oil. You can make the recipe to this point up to several hours ahead, and keep the plates chilled in the refrigerator with plastic wrap covering the scallops.

Peel the hard green skin off the watermelon radish, and cut into thin slices, about the width of a matchstick. Then square off the round part of each slice, and slice the resulting squares into matchstick size pieces (known as “julienne”). You will need 32 pieces of julienned radish.

Slice the French breakfast radish into thin round slices. Slice the fresno chili, starting from the pointy tip, into razor-thin rings. Keep slicing until you reach the section of the chili that contains the seeds. Soak the chili rings in a cup of ice water.

Cut the top and bottom off the lime, and working around, cut the skin and white pith off, leaving only the flesh of the lime. Slice into the lime parallel to the membranes that separate each section, and try to pop out the whole sections of lime. Slice the resulting sections into small triangles, about 1/8” thick.


Season the slices of scallop with sea salt to your taste. Scatter 5-6 pieces of lime over each portion of scallops. Then scatter 5-6 slices of French breakfast radish. Arrange the julienne of watermelon radish around the plate, making ‘X’s with two sticks of the radish. Place 3-4 slices of fresno chili rings around the plate. Mix the chimichurri sauce and drizzle each scallop with about 1 tablespoon of it. Finally, arrange 4-5 leaves of watercress around each plate.
Serve immediately.

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/4 C minced, peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 C washed and chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 C fresh oregano chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili flakes
  • .75C extra virgin olive oil
  • 4T cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix all ingredients together. Sauce will hold several hours before it starts to discolor, so mix small batches as necessary if you will not use all the sauce in one sitting.
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