Far Mountain

Fission Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California


Fission is a pure mountain wine, with a dark depth of fruit chiseled by the cool elevation of its two vineyard sites.  A wine of texture, with the intensity and sappy concentration we associate with old vines, it builds into powerful tannins that remain refined, almost cloaked by the seductiveness of the fruit and the gently building structure. The name Fission was ultimately chosen to reference the textural and mineral characteristics that the unique volcanic soil brings to this wine.


As you leave the town of Sonoma and head north into the hills of the Mayacamas mountain range that separates Sonoma from Napa, within a mile and a half you are on a narrow, rutted road at the bottom of a valley, sparsely populated, and then you start climbing, and find yourself almost entirely surrounded by forest, scrub and rock.

When you close the car door and turn to look up at the Alta Vista vineyard, it’s like striding across a stage and looking up at the lights and rising rows of an audience. It feels like you are in an ancient Roman amphitheater, a player on stage, with the terraced row of vines looking down on you.

The vines at Alta Vista are fully adapted, they are truly part of the site. They are old — fifty years old — which is exceptional by California standards. They come from a different era, planted on St. George rootstock (also difficult to find nowadays) but who can argue with the choices made at a time when scientific understanding of viticulture was almost primitive compared to today. Because these vines have still never been irrigated (again, extremely rare in the region), they produce beautiful fruit at twice the age most vines in California have to be replanted. They adapt to the influences of weather, and their deep root systems (20-40 feet down) bringing layers of complexity to the fruit development. The bedrock of volcanic origin contains more than just basalt, it is also made up of a lot of fractured and decomposed granite. The beauty of the mountain factor is very present in the wine, through its structure, its earthiness, chalkiness, mineral and graphite character, and above all a very defined structure.


The Cabernet Sauvignon is handled extremely gently, more similarly to the way many producers handle Pinot Noir. Specifically, the clusters are destemmed with the aim of keeping whole berries, and then go into open top fermenters. Limited punchdowns and pumpovers are carried out depending on the stage of fermentation.

The wine essentially settles and macerates, rather than forcing extraction. This approach is entirely dictated by the Alta Visa site. The site has so many expositions, and we believe either has some other varieties (Cabernet Franc) or because of age has Cabernet mutations that behave differently. They want to gently accentuate all these complexities, and the intense fruit and general velvety plushness that the grape tannins show even on the vine don’t need further enhancement.

The wine goes to barrels that are 27% new, mainly from two cooperages, and the remainder are 1, 2 and 3 year old barrels. The aging is also restrained, 1 year instead of the 18-24 months you might expect, as they do not want to extract too many oak flavors from the barrels, and believe the details of the site and the structure provided by the elevage need to be maintained rather than overwhelmed. The wine is never racked until final blending before bottling.

The end result is a wine with not only deep and pure fruit, but rich savory and earth tones, and a finishing minerality that is almost saline. That precise and complex aftertaste, defined by far more than fruit flavors, is where you find truly great wines.


2020 was an dry growing season. Winter was moderate temperatures with just above 10 inches of rain, setting off budbreak 10 days earlier that usual. A mild spring slowed things down allowing healthy canopy growth. Hot summer days, encouraged the vines to ripen slowly and clusters to develop mountain complexity. Harvest began 10 days earlier than previous years.

The vines self regulated and showed lower yields from the very beginning. There were signs of concentration and density that amplified the character of the mountain site.

Dry farming, elevation, and older vines has become the signature in these wines which allows the team to offset challenges and variabilities of a vintage.

Tasting Note

The wine is dark, fresh and young. Enters with density and freshness together with a long mid palate. Earthy notes are present together with spices and dry herbs combined with the black fruit. Graphite gives way to bright, red fruit on a textural palate marked by mountain minerality. Balance and bright flavors, tannins are present yet in a subtle and soft way. Its defined structure along with fine-grained tannins that are present, yet soft, result in a complex finish that will allow the wine to age gracefully.



Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon


Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California


The Alta Vista vineyard is Certified Organic, and has been dry-farmed since 1971.



Suggested Retail Price



Wine Enthusiast - January 16, 2023 "This classic-style wine matches rich blackberries and black cherries with measured baking spices like vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon on a full body and slightly grippy texture due to moderate tannins." J.G 1/23

"A fine showing"

Vinous - August 3, 2023 “Packed with scents of blackberry, coffee, dried savory herbs, lavender, mocha and spice. This potent, strapping Moon Mountain Cabernet packs a pretty big punch […] Overall, the 2020 is a fine showing in this challenging vintage." -A.G. 8/23

"Laced with racy acidity"

Wine Enthusiast - August 4, 2023 "A punchy style, with a big burst of mulberry and boysenberry pâte de fruit, laced with racy acidity and gilded with light floral and bramble notes through the finish." M.W 6/23

"Savory and crunchy"

James Suckling - March 26, 2024 "Black olive, currant, dark earth and bark aromas follow through to a medium to full body with medium chewy tannins and a savory and crunchy finish. Juicy. Some asphalt with dark fruits. From cabernet planted in 1972. " J.S 12/23

Trade Materials


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