Started in 1988 by two prominent Howell Mountain vineyard owners, Howell Mountain Vineyards and its wines have been an integral part of the emergence and development of this AVA in the wine industry. Today, led by Mike Beatty, grower of the famed Beatty Ranch, Howell Mountain Vineyards continues its focus on quality in the vineyards while embracing bio-harmonic principles.
Much of Howell Mountain lies 'above the fog' and at 1800 feet Howell Mountain Vineyards is no exception. Howell Mountain’s unique soil and micro-climate place it in a category of its own, apart from the valley floor. The altitude keeps it two degrees cooler than valley floor, and exposes the vines to sunlight earlier in the day. The vineyard’s southwestern exposure keeps the vines basking in sunlight throughout the afternoon. A steady breeze combined with abundant sunshine at such high elevations above the fog prevents mildew from plaguing the grapes. The soil is Aiken Loam, a non-fertile, volcanic, red mountain clay. The lack of nutrients forces the vines to struggle to produce smaller grapes at lower yields. Small particles in the clay hold water well, enabling the practice of dry-farming methods. Small grape clusters equals a higher skin to juice ratio. This deepens the color of the wine and increases tannins, creating the intensity that describes the classic Howell Mountain character.
The Howell Mountain AVA’s unique soil and micro-climate combined with Mike Beatty’s boots-on-the-ground approach in the vineyard enables them to consistently produce some of the highest quality fruit in Napa Valley. Add to that the minimal interventionist wine-making philosophy of winemaker Bryan Kane, and it is no wonder that Howell Mountain Vineyards is able to craft wines that truly express the terroir of this incredible Howell Mountain AVA.
This 2017 vintage Cabernet Franc exhibits dark ruby red hues and a compelling lush, clean nose with black cherry, blackberry and sweet black plum fruit notes with a hint of underlying green pepper. On the palate, the wine has a soft, velvet-like, chewy texture up front with bold spiced blackberry and juicy cherry flavors. As the wine settles on the palate, there are subtle tannins that embraces this explosion of fruit, giving the wine a nice structure with black currant, dried cranberry, and soft spice. This full structure wine lingers on the palate, with a long dark fruit finish.