Winery owners and regional winery organizations are very protective of not only their estate names, but also of the names of their geographic locales.
And with good reason. Reputations are built on producing quality products, first and foremost, but also on names that are associated with quality. That’s why some red wines from Bordeaux can command very high prices even if the name of the chateau doesn’t roll off the tongue. History has shown that many red Bordeaux bottlings are among the finest wines in the world.
Another example is California’s Napa Valley. And within Napa Valley, there are a handful of sub-appellations that command even more respect and reverence. Among them: Mayacamas, a higher-altitude area where the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are transformed into distinctive and highly sought-after wines.
So, when grape growers in northern Sonoma County and southern Mendocino County teamed up to apply for a new American Viticultural Area and sought to name it Pine Mountain-Mayacamas, growers and vintners in Napa’s Mayacamas AVA were not thrilled. And they passed along their concerns to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Interestingly, the original application asked that the area be named simply Pine Mountain. But the government bureau said there already were several Pine Mountain areas in the U.S., and asked the Sonoma and Mendocino growers to add a modifier to the name. So, Mayacamas was added and a hyphenated name was created.
Now, it appears that a compromise has been reached, and the newly filed paperwork calls for the area to be named Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Park.
The petitioners are happy because the name still includes the Pine Mountain designation.
Napa growers and vintners are happy because the name no longer references Mayacamas.
Will the tax and trade bureau join in the happiness? The answer to that question is expected before the end of the year.