Sugarloaf Mountain - The Crest of the Mayacamas
No location has been harder hit by the recent rash of wine country wildfires than the Sugarloaf Mountain region. Between the 2017 Nuns Fire and the 2020 Glass Fire, 90% of the Sugarloaf Ridge State Park has been touched by wildfires in the past half-decade. Fortunately, nature has a way of replenishing itself after disasters such as these—the spring after the 2017 fire brought the largest wildfire bloom the park had seen in half a century. This is important because the Sugarloaf region is one of the most beautiful locations in a region known for its natural splendor and one of the most bountiful wine-growing regions within the Napa Valley AVA.
History of Sugarloaf Mountain and Ridge
Straddling the border between Sonoma and Napa counties, Sugarloaf is a verdant piece of land in the Mayacamas Mountains. It was originally settled by the Wappo tribe 1500 years ago who managed to successfully hold off an attempted Spanish takeover in the 19th century. As Alta California became the Bear Flag Republic and then a part of the United States, the region eventually became inhabited by American settlers.
The name Sugarloaf Ridge refers to the shape of the ice cream cone-shaped ridge at the southern end of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. At the time that the region acquired its name, sugar was sold in loaves whose shape was similar to the ridge. The mountain at the center of the region, Bald Mountain, is famous for its spectacular views. On a clear day, even San Francisco is visible in the distance to the south.
While the Wappos farmed in Wilikos Village near the source of Sonoma Creek, the modern history of Sugarloaf Mountain agriculture begins with the “gentlemen farmers” of the 1870s who were hired to manage the ranches of local business owners. Another auspicious agricultural practice from this era was burning trees to sell as charcoal. The first significant vineyards on Sugarloaf mountain were planted by the Luttrell family in the late 19th century.
Napa Valley AVA
The vineyards of Sugarloaf Mountain fall within the Napa Valley American Viticultural Area—perhaps the premier wine region in the entire United States. The Mediterranean climate, fertile geology with soil enriched by volcanic ash, and rolling hills make the region especially well suited to growing a wide variety of wine grapes. Beginning in the 19th century and gaining prominence since the 1960s, the commercial wine industry is the primary economic and cultural engine of the region. It is one of the regions that produces wine that is considered comparable to those from Old World wine regions.
With more than 450 wineries and 16 different sub-AVAs, the Napa Valley produces grapes for Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays, Pinot noirs, Merlots, Zinfandels, and numerous others. The region includes wineries large and small, from giants such as Mondavi down to small, family wineries.
Allen Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard
The vineyards of Sugarloaf Mountain are some of the southernmost within the Napa Valley AVA. The mountain’s relatively high elevation and proximity to San Pablo Bay allow for cooler air in the afternoons and evenings, ideal for such varietals as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The rocky, basaltic igneous soil also makes it a good location for growing Cabernet Sauvignon—provided the growers can find ways to allow the vines to take root in the sparse topsoil.
Allen Wines Sugarloaf Mountain is a product of such techniques. It is a single vineyard, single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon with deep berry flavors and a touch of dusty earth and spice. Elegant and balanced with plenty of structure, fruit, and natural verve, this wine can be enjoyed for many years to come. Produced and handcrafted by Ron Allen and Winemaker Chris Taddei.