Spotlight: Moon Mountain AVA
You've seen the words "Moon Mountain" on the Three Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon releases for a few vintages, now (2010 & 2011 to be exact). But what you may not know is that the Moon Mountain District was, for many years, merely a prized mountain area within the larger Sonoma Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area.)
It wasn't until October of 2013 that the Moon Mountain District earned official AVA status of its own (incidentally just a month or two before we were prepping the 2012 Three Sticks Moon Mountain Cabernet - one of our September release wines - to head from barrel to bottle).
While we still source our wines from the same exceptional vineyards to craft our Moon Mountain Cab, the advantage of having a specific AVA for wine lovers is that, now, seeing "Moon Mountain" on the label offers you a tighter definition of what to expect from the wine inside the bottle you choose.
The Moon Mountain AVA is a sub-appellation of Sonoma Valley, meaning its boundaries lie entirely within the larger Sonoma Valley AVA. At 17,663 acres, elevation is the key defining factor of the Moon Mountain region - the AVA is tucked into the steep western slope of the Mayacamas Mountains, where elevations range from 400 to 2,700 feet above sea level. (The Mayacamas separate Sonoma County from our wine-loving neighbors in Napa County).
The climate is further defined by almost constant bay breezes that blow across the entire AVA, which sits above the summer fog line. Soils are largely fractured basalt and volcanic ash.* (*info source: sonomavalleywine.com)
The name Moon Mountain is inspired by Sonoma Valley's famous "Valley of the Moon" nickname - which comes from Native American lore, inspired Jack London's famous writing and continues to inspire us here, today, as the full moon rises over vines.
The 2012 Three Sticks Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon will be released in just a few short weeks. Don Van Staaveren continues to head up our Cabernet Sauvignon production, so we asked him about the 2012 release:
"The 2011 vintage was somewhat lean, but the 2012 Vintage was one of the most ideal growing seasons we have experienced. The entire season was exceptionally long thanks for fair weather and moderate temperatures. The long hang-time led to flavor development and added complexity in the grapes. The 2012 Moon Mountain Cab offers up a classic Moon Mountain profile. It's full and rich, with tons of dark fruit tones, round tannins and a plush structure."
The Cabernet still comes from three exceptional Sonoma Valley vineyards we've worked with for many years- all within the new Moon Mountain AVA:
Bald Mountain: 1700' elevation, Northwest-West exposure, east-West row direction, Basaltic soils – red Hill loam – Sonoma volcanic: this is classic vineyard soil. Non-irrigated, this vineyard is dry farmed relying only on annual rainfall, deep roots and the water holding capacity of the soil. Planted in 2002.
Bismark Ranch: 1800'-2200' elevation, South exposure, Northeast-Southwest row direction predominately with one block east-West. rhyolitic tuff/Basaltic. Planted in 1998. We receive small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot from Bismark. The Cabernet Sauvignon is lively and grippy with the Petit Verdot providing dark aromas and concentrated fruit to supplement the Cabernet’s structure.
Mountain Terraces: 1200'-1750' elevation, South-Southwest exposure, East-West row direction. Rhyolitic/Basaltic soils. Planted in 1992. Mountain Terraces provides us with the core of the Cabernet Sauvignon used in this blend. This block is on a steeply terraced slope receiving all the benefits of the elements.
The 2012 Moon Mountain Cab will be released on September 9 ... along with the 2013 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, the 2013 Gap's Crown Pinot Noir and the 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. If you're not already a member of our allocation list, you can join here.
Cheers from the Valley of the Moon -
The Three Sticks Wine Team