Howell Mountain belongs to the volcanic mountain range that flanks Napa Valley on its east side. This wine captures the rich, powerful flavors of Howell Mountain, with complexity from a selection of Cabernet Sauvignon clones. Matches boldly flavored foods, like strip loin steak with wild mushrooms and roasted fingerling potatoes.
Bright, juicy blackberry, boysenberry, red cassis and cherry notes framed by dynamic, mouth-coating tannins. Hints of bay laurel, bittersweet chocolate, earthy forest-loam and candied violet further speak to its sourcing from grapes grown in iron-laden, red volcanic loam soils high up on Howell Mountain. It finishes with flavors of caramel, vanilla and cinnamon spice. This rich, powerful wine will benefit from a decade of bottle aging; however, if served in its youth, we recommend decanting before serving.
The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January, we enjoyed significant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, right around Labor Day, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended mild season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors. Considered a perfect harvest and a winemaker’s dream vintage, conditions were perfect for producing a Cabernet with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors, highly saturated color, and layers of complexity.
We sourced 90 percent of the grapes from a small Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard planted to several different clones in 1994 on the Howell Mountain plateau. Here, at 1,700 feet, the vines begin spring budbreak later because of cooler temperatures, but the grapes have longer hours of solar radiation; being above the fog-line; for ripening. Howell Mountain; part of the volcanic Vaca Range on the northeastern side of Napa Valley; has such unique soils and mesoclimates that it was designated the first official sub-appellation of Napa Valley in 1983.
The hand-harvested grapes were lightly crushed and then the must was cold soaked for gentle extraction before fermentation began. A portion of the wine was entirely fermented in small French oak barrels for enhanced integration of oak character, with the balance in stainless steel tanks. To soften tannins, we allowed the wine to ferment slightly warmer (90 degrees F.) than usual. Four rackings naturally clarified the wine and it was bottled without fining.
Trevor grew up in nearby Sonoma County, one of the wine hubs of Northern California. Wine was a staple at his family dinner table, and he enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology program at the University of California, Davis. After an internship at Sonoma-Cutrer in 2003 and two consecutive harvest internships making sparkling wine at Gloria Ferrer, Trevor joined Moon Mountain Vineyard, a small, well-regarded organic vineyard in Sonoma, shortly after his graduation from UC Davis. In March of 2010, Trevor joined the winemaking team at Hewitt Vineyard and Provenance Vineyards and was appointed senior winemaker in 2015.
"From a winemaking standpoint, we have access to some of the best fruit in Napa Valley, not just from our estate in Rutherford, but also from Carneros in the south all the way up to Calistoga in the north. Our job is to make sure that each wine is balanced, complex, exciting and representative of its terroir."