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Healdsburg council opposes renaming Black Mountain

  • 9/2/2009: A1: Jess Jackson would like to rename Black Mountain, background, to Alexander Mountain. The road to his mountain vineyards off Geysers Road has already been named.

    PC: Jess Jackson would like to rename Black Mountain, background, to Alexander Mountain. The road to his mountain vineyards off of Geysers Road has already been named. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2009

The Healdsburg City Council has a message for vintner Jess Jackson: It doesn't want the name of Black Mountain changed to Alexander Mountain.

The council unanimously opposed renaming the landmark, citing concerns about the billionaire winemaker's motivation.

"Black Mountain isn't a stadium, or an arena. A private individual should not have the opportunity to get naming rights of an entire mountain," Councilman Mike McGuire said Tuesday.

Council members expressed concern that the name change was proposed so Jackson can market the wines that come from his Alexander Mountain Estate vineyard northeast of Healdsburg on the flanks of 3,128-foot-high Black Mountain.

"This is about standing up for our agricultural heritage and not selling additional cases of wine for a private producer," McGuire said.

Jackson Family Enterprises in May asked the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to rename the mountain, which has been called Black Mountain since the late 1800s.

In the application, the company said the change would distinguish the peak from many others in the country named Black Mountain and to honor the heritage of pioneer Cyrus Alexander for whom Alexander Valley was named.

After the application was filed, a company official acknowledged the prime reason was to bolster the case for a new American Viticultural Area for the grapes grown on Jackson's 5,400-acre estate.

Black Mountain does not belong to Jackson, but its peak looms over his property. The mountain encompasses a number of individually owned parcels.

Jackson's company several years ago applied to federal alcohol regulators for a special "Alexander Valley" subappellation, to help distinguish the premium wine grapes grown there. There has been no decision on that application.


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