Moon Mountain District Sonoma County

Frontispiece of Jack London's Valley of the Moon

Frontispiece of Jack London’s, “Valley of the Moon”, 1913, The Macmillan Company, Ny

Now that I am out and about again, I wasted no time high tailing it out of town to visit some new wineries. The first on the list was Repris Wines in the Moon Mountain District.  This post will explore this eerie landscape and I will discuss the winery in the next.

Moon Mountain District is located within Sonoma Valley across the eastern ridge from the Mt. Veeder AVA (or the Sonoma-Napa border, if you will…). The name of the area is based on the mistaken belief that the local indigenous peoples referred to Sonoma Valley as the “Valley of the Moon”.  At least the last Mexican governor of the area did, as well as Jack London, who wrote a book with that title.  While there was a “valley” of the moon, there was no associated mountain.  That has all changed.  After asking the USGS  nicely to designate a “Moon Mountain”, the people were finally rewarded (57 years later).  The peak is located east of Mt. Pisgah and south of Bismark Knob.

The appellation ranges from 400-2,200 feet above sea level and is known for its series of medium sloped hills that build upon one another. This leaves the terrain with little pockets of terroir that receive different amounts of sunlight and different airflows.  The majority of the region faces the west to maximize the amount of sunlight that the vines receive as well as maximizing the intensity.  Cool day time temperatures from the Pacific have warmed up by the time they reach Moon Mountain and night time fogs roll down the mountain to keep the  vines from freezing.  The temperatures in the area provide almost double the growing degree days in the area making it a perfect location for growing Zinfandel and other long hanging grapes.

image of lava outcrop, Moon MountainThe geology of the area is a mixture of andesite and basalt lava flows from the Sonoma volcanics that have been mixed with gravels.  The resulting soils are brown and shallow and very well drained allowing the grapes to grow deeply into the  hillside.  This gives the area a sometimes eerie look from these flows that are visible in places at the surface (thus the name Moon Mountain, perhaps?).  The brown soils are largely of the Goulding series are volcanic and very well drained.

There are currently 11 bonded wineries and 40 commercial vineyards operating around Moon Mountain.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Wine From the Sunshine State

Yeah, we fancy with out paper towel napkins

Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve.com

When in Florida, you expect to see a lot of citrus. And man do you ever. But surprisingly enough you don’t really see many grapes. Particularly near Orlando. All you see there are mouse ears and you know who they belong to….

Nevertheless, I, your intrepid locapour am always on the lookout for the local wine. And even in the heart of Disney managed to located Florida wine. Florida Wine? Yes.

The wine from Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is made from grapes but not of the vinifera variety. These are muscadines, the native grapes of the south, vitis rotundifolia. They are bigger than vinifera grapes and found in smaller, loose clusters. Muscadines are bronze, purple and black and have been used to produce wine and jelly since Europeans have been in the American southeast, even in the heat and humidity of Florida.

This wine was brought home from Florida last year and put away in the wine fridge. Last night, Kevin brought it out as a accompaniment of barbecue ribs. Now, Kevin loves to grill. All year long. And he makes a mean sauce. By mean, I mean spicy. I was a bit apprehensive when I saw a bottle of tabasco being used to make the sauce.

But it turns out this wine perfect match. This wine, was a sweet muscadine, which in all fairness is the type you are more likely to find. The flavor was like a bright cherry pop. Except a wine, of course. Cool and sweet in contrast to hot and spicy.

So maybe you don’t like sweet wine. And maybe you don’t think wine should be made in Florida. But last night sweet, Florida muscadine wine was exactly what I needed.

If you are in Florida, visiting the folks or the grands and are Disney’d out, you can find wine in Central Florida just 45 minutes northwest of Orlando.

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
19239 U.S. 27 North
Clermont, Florida 34715
1-800-768-WINE

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor