Fall 2021 Release Wines Coming Soon

Dear Craigers,
As we release our noteworthy 2018 wines from Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder to our best customers (this is you), I can’t help but think of all the love and work and community that we have built up around our high-quality mountain produce over the last 30 years at Robert Craig Winery. The ability to see our Craig family again has been an emotional lift that is hard to describe. All the Zoom in the world can’t make up for a big hug and a shared bottle on the porch with a customer at the end of the day. Please come see us and let me know if you are coming out.

2018 was a standout vintage for most of the Napa Valley, though northeast Napa Vineyards struggled with smoke from fires to the north. Fortunately, the upper sections of our Winery Estate Vineyard and Candlestick Ridge Vineyard were free from the smoke that stubbornly settled into the lower portions of our properties. There’s an advantage to being at the top of the mountain. The fruit that was harvested and made into our estate bottling was free from smoke taint and of extraordinary quality. Antonio Galloni gave us rave reviews for the 2018 release, though I think tempered a bit by the difficulties of our downstairs neighbors that year.

Craig Cabernet Club Members get first dibs on the Fall 2021 Release Wines, plus special member pricing & shipping offers. Not a member yet? Learn more here.

The 2018 Howell Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon shows the typical thorny stem fruit that is a Howell Mountain hallmark. Deep, dark nuances of iron, graphite, and crushed rock dance around the core of black fruit that coats the palate. The 2018 exhibits the racy energy of the vintage in every way, and this wine should easily cellar for decades despite the balance that makes it possible to enjoy while young. The red volcanic soils and pure tufa of Candlestick combine to produce a structured, towering Cabernet in 2018.

After the disaster of 2017 that saw us leave perfect fruit on the vine as the smoke and flames from the Tubbs fire enveloped the vineyard, 2018 provided nearly perfect growing conditions along the northern portion of the Mount Veeder AVA in our Amentet Vineyard. We continued our conversion to cane pruning to allow for each vine to determine its fruit load. It has been an expensive and labor-intensive process, but the results have been tremendous. The 2018 vintage was also remarkable in that we used barely any irrigation for the year after turning up every other row to plant new cover crop. 

The 2018 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon Amentet Vineyard is simply a massive, iconic example of what is possible in the Mount Veeder AVA. Dried cocoa flake, pencil shavings, cassis, dark floral undertones, and mineral accents all emerge from the glass after a couple of minutes of air. The tannin structure is profound, but the tannins remain juicy, round and well developed so that the wine enjoys a seamless weight on the palate and a finish the extends beyond expectation. We are beyond excited to offer this wine up to our customers after a missed vintage.

Don’t miss out on your optional allocation of the 2018 Howell Mountain Zinfandel Black Sears Vineyard. It was a wonderful vintage for Back Sears, the property is dry farmed so yields were exceptionally small for the 2018 vintage despite the even keeled growing season. There simply was not enough moisture in the soil to grow large clusters. Pete Richmond and Silverado Farming had the vineyard in ideal condition, and the Zinfandel harvest occurred earlier than usual on this gorgeous site just 200 yards from our winery gate.

This wine continues to show that exotic, ground white pepper and spice box in the nose, and even more so in the mouth. The breadth and length of the wine on the palate is what sets it apart. There is no substitute for high elevation and shallow soils when it comes to developing flavor in Zinfandel grapes, and Black Sears has those features in spades. The 2018 is forward and explosive in the nose, showing those Howell Mountain bramble berry fruits, but there is so much more that keeps emanating from the wine once it hits the palate. 

I wish you all safe passage through the current surge in coronavirus, and I hope you are enjoying this summer as much as I am. Shelly is making some grilled cheese sandos with cheddar and a hefty slice of salted farmer’s market tomato in between the sourdough slices along with a green salad and some spicy tomato soup. Cru Beaujolais?

Love & Peace,