Howell Mountain is one of Napa Valley's most prestigious hillside AVAs. It covers an area of land on the Vaca mountain range in the northern part of the valley, just above the town of St Helena. A long, thin area, the Howell Mountain AVA measures about 10 miles (16km) from northwest to southeast and less than two miles across at its widest point around the town of Angwin. The local vineyards are grouped in several distinct areas, carefully oriented according to the lie of the land, in contrast to the densely planted valley floor below. There is no Howell Mountain peak – the AVA is named for the tiny Howell Mountain township, which sits 1,690 feet (515m) above sea level. In order to claim the Howell Valley appellation, the vineyards must be planted above the 1,400 feet (430-m) contour line, and reach as high as 2,200 feet (670m) above sea level. This puts Howell Mountain above the fog that serves as a climate moderator in the valley below. Instead, Howell Mountain's vignerons rely on the vineyards' elevation above the valley floor for climate moderation.
In 1983, Mike Beatty, along with other Howell Mountain wineries and farmers, helped to establish the Howell Mountain Appellation (AVA) and reestablish the mountain as a premiere Napa Valley grape growing region. Prohibition had affected the entire wine industry, but with an entrepreneurial spirit and nature on their side, it would not be long before the mountain wineries surpassed their pre-prohibition glory. In 1988, Mike and another prominent Howell Mountain vineyard owner started Howell Mountain Vineyards to produce their own wines and further showcase their grapes. Today, Mike Beatty continues to lead Howell Mountain Vineyards and its focus on producing quality in the field with minimal intervention wine-making in order to showcase the unique characteristics of this distinctive appellation.
Tasting Notes: Dark and rich, this Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon reveals an outstanding bouquet of ripe blackberries, plums, crème de cassis, cherry cola, sweet tobacco, and dried herbs. Full bodied and luxuriously textured, this wine is wonderfully smooth and plush on the palate but powerful all at once. The wine finishes long and velvety, with vibrant dark fruits leaving a lasting impression. It’s hard to keep away from now, as this wine is already showing very well, but those who wait will be rewarded tenfold.