Long before the 1976 Judgment of Paris put Napa Valley’s vinous treasure on the wine world map, bottles from Howell Mountain were taking home medals at international contests. In 1889, a wine made by Jean Adolph Brun and Jean V. Chaix, pioneers in what is now the high-altitude AVA in the northeast of the valley took home a bronze medal from the Paris World Competition. Ten years later, two other early hillside settlers, W.S. Keyes and Frederick Hess, were awarded gold and bronze medals, respectively, for their Howell Mountain wines. It took almost another hundred years for official government recognition; in 1983 Howell Mountain was named the first AVA within the greater confines of the Napa Valley AVA.
What sets this small American Viticultural Area near Saint Helena apart from other wine regions is that its perimeter is not just by geographic borders but by altitude: All vineyards must be a minimum of 1,400 feet above sea level. And while many wines from the Napa valley floor benefit from cooling Pacific fog that rolls in each morning, most Howell Mountain’s vines sit above the fog line, offering full sunlight throughout the day and miss the fog. Our Howell Mountain Estate sits at the southern tip of the AVA region, allowing our vines the benefits of the fog and the sun. Mountain conditions create berries with a higher skin to juice ratio and traditionally stronger tannins. At the same time, cooler temperatures at higher altitudes aid in retaining acidity; this balanced tannin and acidity create wines that are made to last. The southern part of the mountain ripens many years a month difference than the north, which ripens much earlier. This is a result of the patchy fog and cooler weather on the southern part of the AVA.
The soil series in the Howell Mountain AVA truly create a wine’s distinction. Some properties of the AVA region have Tuff soil while others have Aikin Clay. Tuff (pronounced tuhf like the English word tough) is a type of volcanic soil; however, it is sometimes classified as a sedimentary soil—however, it’s is formed via both volcanism and sedimentation. Aikin Clay, which is the rarest form of Tuff soil, is what comprises the soil at our Howell Mountain Estate. Our Howell Mountain label color is representative of this clay.
The 2018 Howell Mountain Estate Vintage
Rising from 1600 to 1750 feet above the Napa Valley floor, Neal Family Howell Mountain estate vineyard’s distinctive climate, along with volcanic and iron-rich red soils, produces fruit with great balance and intensity. This 2018 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a clonal blend from our home property and showcases all the characteristics of Howell Mountain. Beautifully aromatic, this wine shows elevated fruit notes with a floral aspect, complemented with licorice, anise, chocolate and a pleasing touch of orange zest. Dense and concentrated, this wine is a powerhouse of fruit and tannin built for the ages. Flavors from the aromatics with elements like chocolate, tar and nutmeg carry on through to the dry finish. A diverse vintage, as its one for the cellar or with decanting, ready to drink.
100% Howell Mountain AVA – 100% Estate Grown – 100% Certified Organically Farmed