When Spanish prospectors discovered rich cinnabar deposits in central California near San Jose, they named the site after the famous mines of Almadén, in Spain. The ready availability of New Almaden mercury was a crucial ingredient in the California gold rush.
Today the New Almaden mines are closed, and the area is a county park, but in nearby Saratoga the name of Cinnabar Vineyards recalls the quicksilver boom. This excellent wine is from a mixture of Bordeaux varietals, vinified with the typical California attention to clarity of fruit flavors. A slight pruny element reflects the daytime heat high in the dry Santa Cruz Mountains where the vines growno doubt the name "mercury rising" does the same. But to me the name also evokes the quiet predawn darkness of harvest time when the planet Mercury appears low in the east, signaling the approach of day as the grape pickers begin work.