It’s official, “Federal Register/Vol. 76, No. 208 /Thursday, October 27, 2011 /Rules and Regulations” has made a final ruling effective November 28, 2011. It only took 5 years but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has approved the application by the grape growers of Pine Mountain to a newly established and unique American Viticultural Area (AVA) called Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak (PM-CP AVA). Previously lumped into the long-standing Alexander Valley AVA, the new PM-CP AVA recognizes the special differences in climate, soil, elevation, exposure, drainage and over all ‘terroir’ of this terrain at the northern most end of Alexander Valley and Sonoma County and the southern most end of Mendocino County.
Just under 15 growers were involved in preparing and submitting this application and there were only a couple notable names, for now, beyond Benziger Family Winery and Seghesio Family Vineyards.
Some of the distinctions related to approving this higher elevation AVA (all above 1600 feet – likely the highest in Northern California), are small and intense vineyard development, red rock soils, southwestern orientations, small size of berries, lower yields and the distinct microclimate of Pine Mountain. The resulting berries are typically richer and have more intense colors, aromas and flavors. Most of the existing vineyards are small, ranging from 5 – 30 acres.
Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak has a rich viticultural history originating in the 1800s when the Preston Ranch encompassed most of what will be PM-CP AVA. “This is costly/extreme farming” to quote the PM-CP website.
Congratulations to the persistent growers and wine makers of Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak. May this distinction provide a certain marketing boost, cache and pricing for their grapes and their AVA/vineyard specific wines. Won’t hurt the City of Cloverdale either to have this ‘cool’ new identity in its surrounding environs.
Most of the information contained in this post was gleaned from the Federal Register and the Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak website. All of the pictures were from the Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak website.