About Howell Mountain Wineries & The Best Howell Mountain Wine Tasting Options To Explore In Napa Valley
Why Is It Called Howell Mountain?Howell Mountain and the entire mountain range took its name from the Isaac Howell family who moved to the mountain range in 1846. This location gives Howell Mountain cabernet characteristics unlike any cabernet from other regions of the world.
How High Are The Vineyards On Howell Mountain?Vines begin at 1,400 feet and extend to 2,500 feet, the highest vineyard is Cakebread Cellars and the highest winery is Robert Craig Winery.
Are Howell Mountain Wineries Open To The Public?A handful of wineries are open to the public, but most are open by appointment only. Howell Mountain is a beautiful place to visit with breathtaking views from its mountain-top wineries…a wonderful compliment to their fine wines. Join us at our Silverado Trail location for a truly exquisite wine tasting experience.
What Aromas & Flavors Distinguish Howell Mountain AVA Wines?
Howell Mountain wines produce aromas of ripe mountain berries, deep dark currants, and elegant floral notes, expressing themselves in a dusty, earthy, minerality in the nose. The fruit components are very dark in flavor and color with a lot of black cherry, blackberry, plum, chocolate, and mocha. Along with those very charming characteristics, Howell Mountain wines also contain hints of spice, tobacco, and mineral, which make for a substantially complex wine, one that is fantastic with light foods or fits nicely into a five-course meal.
Mountain fruit you would expect to be very tannic, but Howell Mountain fruit has a beautiful, silky elegance to it, producing wines with a long, lingering after-taste to round out the full experience you come to expect from these extraordinary mountain grapes. The Howell Mountain cabernet characteristics will coat your palate with a subtle earthy note. See Buying Options>
What Is Unique About The Howell Mountain AVA “Terroir” & What Effects Do These Conditions Have On The Grapes And Wines?
- Howell Mountain is one of only five mountain appellations in Napa Valley
- Howell Mountain is “Above the Fog”. When the marine layer fog rolls into Napa Valley from the coast, covering the valley floor often late into the morning, the weather on Howell Mountain remains generally sunny and cool because Howell Mountain is literally “above the fog”. The appellation owes its distinctive climate to the fact that it is positioned well above the valley floor, beginning at 1,400 feet in elevation and rising to 2,300 feet. Because of its altitude, evening temperatures on Howell Mountain are generally warmer and daytime temperatures are much cooler—leveling out spikes in heat that tend to be more exaggerated at lower elevations, causing a gradual growth process, producing small, concentrated grapes and ultimately more robust, complex but well-balanced wines.
- Although it gets nearly twice as much rainfall as the valley below, the soil tends to be dry, because rocky, porous volcanic soil conditions allow for adequate drainage and less accumulation. Seasonally cooler spring temperatures cause buds to break later than average, and warm summer nights produce fruit that demonstrates a great balance between acidity and sugar. All of which, translates into a rich diversity of complexity and flavor in your glass.
- From the ground up, soil can have as much of an effect on the variety and intensity of grapes as the weather. This is clearly evident on Howell Mountain, where there are two main soil types. The first consists of decomposed volcanic ash, called “tufa”, and the second is red clay that is high in iron content. Because both soil types are nutrient poor, they stress the vines, producing intense wines from small clusters and smaller grapes.
- Accumulatively, the altitude and thin, rocky, dry soil conditions create wines with firm structure, incredible varietal intensity, and excellent aging properties.
How Do I Get To The Best Howell Mountain Wineries?DIRECTIONS: If you would like to taste the Howell Mountain cabernet characteristics, then here are two main roads (running north/south) that span the entire length of the valley—Highway 29 (on the west) and the Silverado Trail (on the east). Generally, if you get onto the Silverado Trail before St. Helena heading north, you will come to a flashing red stoplight at Deer Park Road. Turn right onto Deer Park Road and go east just over 3 miles to White Cottage Road. The intersection of Deer Park and White Cottage Road is approximately where the elevation reaches 1,400 feet and the official appellation begins.
What Gives Howell Mountain Wines Their Distinct, Mature Flavor?“In my experience, the soil and elevation play an integral role in both the tannin structure and natural acidity in the grapes and their resulting wines. During the summer, our mountain vineyards are often 10ºF cooler than on the valley floor and sit above the typical fog line receiving more hours of sun exposure, which lengthens the growing season. Also, the vines work harder to survive in the spare, rocky soils producing smaller, concentrated grapes. This results in a longer growing season giving the tannins time to fully mature, all while developing gorgeous flavors while retaining the vibrant natural acidity that can make a great Cabernet Sauvignon so dynamic. While growing and making mountain wines can be difficult, the rewards far outweigh the challenges.”
Jade Barrett, Winemaker at Ladera Vineyards
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