May 18, 2024
Howell Mountain

Howell Mountain: Seclusion is Recipe for Success

Howell Mountain has been the home of noteworthy wines for a number of years. At first glance, this region might seem to be an unlikely location for such a popular wine region. The Seventh Day Adventist town of Angwin, which is alcohol free, is located quite nearby, after all. Despite that fact; however, Howell Mountain has become a premier wine region in Napa Valley and is particularly well known for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

The region is relatively secluded; however, this has not prevented Howell Mountain wineries from becoming successful. Even during the early 19th century, there was wine production in the region. Today, a large number of these wineries, which had become little more than ghost wineries, have since been renovated and are in production once again.

The mountainous and sunny climate of Howell Mountain, with its elevation that soars more than 1,800 feet above sea level, is perfect for the production of local grapes. As a result, the area has become known for producing Cabernets that feature velvety tannins and flavors that are highly developed. The stunning natural beauty of the area, combined with the nearby proximity to town, has also made Howell Mountain a popular tourist destination.

A large majority of the vineyards on Howell Mountain face to the west. This provides an abundance of afternoon sunlight to the grapes grown on the slopes. As a result, the area has become well known for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon. The continual breeze and elevation of the region have helped to prevent mildew in the Howell Mountain region, despite the higher temperatures. The moderate winds and abundant sunshine are believed to contribute to the fact that the grapes in this region are able to retain their acidity. Historically, red Bordeaux varietals have been grown on Howell Mountain such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Malbec in addition to Petitte Sirah and Zinfandel.

True wine production on Howell Mountain began in the 1880s. Isaac Howell, for whom the region is named, had settled in the area in 1847. By the end of the 19th century, more than 600 acres had been planted in Howell Mountain. One of the most noteworthy landowners during the time was Charles Drug, who owned more than 100 acres of planted vineyards. Liparita Winery was also established in 1880, by Willam Keys, who had a moderate amount of success with clarets.

Howell Mountain Winery was established during this time period as well. Jean Chaix and Jean Adolph Brun had met in Napa and then went on to plant 20 acres on Howell Mountain. They used cuttings derived from the Medoc. In 1886, Howell Mountain Winery was established. The expansive stone walls which were used in the construction of the winery made the winery one of the most expensive buildings to be constructed during that time in Napa Valley.

Like everywhere else, Howell Mountain was almost decimated by Prohibition. Every single winery in the region was closed while the vineyards either fell into disrepair or were actually replanted with other crops as local owners attempted to survive the period. During the years following the repeal of Prohibition, a number of vintners attempted to reopen; however, by and large, their attempts failed. Howell Mountain Winery is just one example. Until the mid-1940s, the winery attempted to produce a small amount of wine; however, they were unable to continue and eventually closed. Later, it was would be re-opened as Chateau Woltner; however, that was not until many years later.

It was actually not until the 1960s that interest in Howell Mountain was revived. A number of the older properties in the region were purchased during this time period and revived. As a result, Howell Mountain became the first sub-AVA to be established within Napa Valley. If you are in the area, be sure to stop by and sample one of the Cabernet Sauvignon wines produced on Howell Mountain. No visit to Napa Valley would be complete without it.