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Billionaire Jess Jackson petitions to rename Black Mountain to Alexander Mountain in effort to create new appellation

  • Black Mountain is the backdrop as a Kendall Jackson vineyard worker scoots to the next KJ vineyard on Geysers Road above the Alexander Valley, Wednesday August 26, 2009. Jess Jackson wants to change the name of Black Mountain to Alexander Mountain. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2009

Sonoma County's richest man may not be able to move mountains, but he may be able to rename one.

Jess Jackson, through his company Jackson Family Enterprises, has asked to rename one of Alexander Valley's more prominent peaks in an effort to better market his wines.

Jackson's company has petitioned to change the name of 3,128-foot Black Mountain to Alexander Mountain, a move that would bolster the vintner's attempt to create a special grape-growing designation of the same name on his property.

Black Mountain

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"That's why we're doing it, because of the recognition for wines produced within this delimited area," said Pete Downs, a vice president for Jackson Family Wines.

Jackson, 79, an attorney and self-made billionaire, lives on 5,400 acres east of Geyserville that he has named Alexander Mountain Estate.

In an attempt to get a special designation that recognizes the uniqueness of the grapes grown on his property, his company in May asked the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to change the mountain's name.

While it's been known as Black Mountain for generations, so far there have been no known objections.

"I'm not aware of any controversy," said Jane Messenger, a cartographer and geographic names researcher for the federal agency.

But she did not know the name change was being proposed for a commercial purpose.

"Will it make a difference? I don't know," she said. "I can't tell you how the board would feel. But the board needs to be informed of this."


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