You’ve heard of the Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley, the Anderson Valley, Los Carneros, and the Russian River Valley AVAs, but have you ever heard of the Moon Mountain District?
High up in the Mayacamas Mountain Range, known for centuries as the Valley of the Moon, lies one of California’s newest delimited appellations known as the Moon Mountain District. It achieved official American Viticultural Area (AVA) status in 2013.
Located just north of Sonoma, this mountainous viticultural area is warmer than the Sonoma Valley floor and produces rich, intensely flavored wines. The AVA covers around 17,500 acres of land along the western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains between Sugarloaf Ridge and Carneros, with the Napa Valley AVA of Mount Veeder covering the eastern slopes. Only 2,000 acres are planted with vines.
Because of its inland setting, the Moon Mountain District has a warmer climate compared to other parts of Sonoma County. Most of the vineyards face west, subjecting them to stronger afternoon sunlight, while the higher elevations (up to 2,200 ft or 670m above sea level) put the vineyards above the influence of the famous Sonoma fog. Even the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay’s cooling winds warm up before they reach the Moon Mountain District.
This warmer climate means a longer growing season with an earlier bud break in the spring and longer hang time for the grapes in the fall. Cold air tends to drain off the hillside vineyards into the valley, reducing the risk of damaging frosts and allowing for a long, slow maturation period. As a result, Moon Mountain District grapes have the desired balance of sugars and acidity, leading to well-balanced wines.
This terroir in the Moon mountain District is distinct and one of the main reasons that a specific AVA title was approved within the Sonoma Valley. While much of the surrounding area has sedimentary soils, the Moon mountain District’s vineyards sit on iron-rich volcanic soils. These red, rocky soils are thin and well drained, which stresses the vines and leads to lower yields, resulting in smaller, highly concentrated berries.
Primary Grapes Grown in the Moon Mountain District
*The grapes we grow along with Syrah and Petite Sirah.
“I’m always impressed by the top-quality fruit that consistently comes from the Moon Mountain District. The elevation, sun exposure, proximity to the coast and San Pablo Bay, as well as the well-drained volcanic soils all play a role in that, and I think it’s one of the best wine regions in the world.” – Ty
At Ty Caton Vineyards, our commitment to excellence begins in the Caton Vineyard. We sustainably farm the hillside fruit to craft exclusively-estate wines that are a unique expression of the Moon Mountain District. Add this AVA to your cellar when you shop our wines online. You’ll be glad you did!