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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Moon Mountain, Sonoma's newest AVA

An AVA, or American Viticultural Area, is a government-approved wine grape growing area--the most well-known one being Napa Valley. Moon Mtn is a sub-appellation of the bigger Sonoma Valley AVA. It deserves its own designation because, well, it's not even in a valley, it's on a mountain range that forms one side of Sonoma Valley. Most of the larger appellations like Sonoma Valley contain a wide range of soils and micro-climates so subdividing them may sound like a natural progression.

I have to think for those not familiar with the area that buying a wine saying Moon Mountain on the label sounds kinda spacey! And I sure wouldn't have any idea where it is let alone what it means. The most famous vineyard there is Monte Rosso (Red Mountain in Italian). It was first planted in the 1880s and was purchased by Louis Martini in 1939. The vineyard is most well-known for Cabernet and Zinfandel. It gets its name from the iron-rich volcanic soils.

The new Moon Mtn appellation ranges from a few hundred feet above the valley floor to about 2,000 feet. So its weather is influenced by the elevation plus by its proximity to the San Pablo Bay. This combination of unique climate and soils is why Moon Mountain grapes are different from those in the surrounding lowlands.

There are 40 vineyards in the appellation. Besides Louis Martini Winery some of the other with a presence in Moon Mountain are Hanzell, Kistler and the new Repris Wines.

Moon Mtn appellation  above the town of Sonoma
The Mt Veeder appellation in Napa Valley is just to the east