Moon Mountain in Sonoma
“Moon Mountain wines lead with more savory notes; black olive, anise, even lavender. Their fruit is dark and brooding, blackberry mixed with coffee and dark cocoa.”—Christine Hanna
Why would anyone care about a new wine region within Sonoma? Well, if you’re fond of high elevation Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel you might really enjoy the wines from this area. Moon Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) became official in 2013 and promises to deliver hauntingly intense wines; reminiscent of the other famous mountain wine regions of California such as Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder. Exciting.
Moon Mountain AVA Facts
Established in 2013, historic vineyards from the 1880’s
- Location: Western facing slopes on Mayacamus Mountains next to the city of Sonoma
- Area: about 2,000 acres planted of the total 17,000 acres
- Major Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel with several plantings of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
- Major Producers: Petroni Vineyard, Haywood Winery, Hanna Winery, Hanzell Winery, Amapola Creek, Ledson ‘Mountain Terraces Vineyard’, J. Baldwin, Repris Wines (private). Vineyards: Frederick’s Vineyard (used by Turley), Compagni-Portis Vineyard (used by Bedrock Wines), Monte Rosso Vineyard (used by Louis Martini Winery)
- Elevation: 600-2,600 ft
- Soil Types: well-drained red Volcanic and ash soils
- How Much They Cost: $36-60
What Does Moon Mountain do Best?
I think Moon Mountain does Bordeaux varieties best. Cab Sauv is a natural at this elevation, giving us all those unique flavors I mentioned. Cabernet Franc loses its tooty fruity valley floor profile to become much more complex, Malbec is very dark and inky, and Petit Verdot is a tannic Titan up there – great as a blender. Even Merlot expresses better at elevation, losing its sometimes weedy and herbal aspect and gaining darker fruit flavors and tannin. Christine Hanna, Hanna Winery
Where is Moon Mountain?
Moon Mountain is located up in the hills outside of the city of Sonoma. Because of its location to California’s most historic wine growing areas you can find some of the oldest living Zinfandel vineyards, including Monte Rosso Vineyard from the 1890’s (now owned by Gallo and used by brand Louis Martini). If you ever get a chance to go there, you’ll want to take the rugged Cavedale road or Moon Mountain Drive to see stunning views of Sonoma Valley. Before the name Moon Mountain came to be, many of the producers in the area wanted the region to be called Mount Veeder North, since it’s next door on the Western slopes.
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The new Moon Mountain AVA east of Hwy 12 spans over 17,000 acres with elevations from 400 to 2200 feet. The aspect is generally western facing as opposed to Mount Veeder’s eastern facing aspect on the Napa side of the Mayacamas. Our Bismark vineyard has a southwestern facing aspect, with decomposed igneous rock. Yields are tiny.
Christine Hanna, Hanna Winery
Terraced vineyards on Moon Mountain, Sonoma. Courtesy of Mountain Terrace Vineyards
About Christine Hanna: Christine is the daughter of Elias Hanna who started Hanna Winery. Elias immigrated from Syria and was a surgeon in a M.A.S.H. unit during Vietnam. After a successful career in San Francisco, Elias purchased ranch land in the hills around Sonoma. Christine eventually took over operations and hired Merry Edwards to bring Hanna Wines to the next level.