Robert Craig Winery Estate Vineyard, Howell Mountain
APPELLATION: Howell Mountain
VARIETALS: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Situated at 2,300’ of elevation along the summit of Howell Mountain, our estate vineyard enjoys temperatures in the summertime that are on average more than 10 degrees cooler than on the valley floor below. This temperature difference helps provide a longer, more even ripening time for these high elevation grapes which maintain their acidity and structure without intervention. Planted in 1998 on 110R rootstock which fares well in stony soils, our estate vineyard is showing the vine maturity in the finished wines. The red volcanic and tufa soils give this Cabernet a wild, bramble berry character, coupled with touches of warm stones and spice.
Of all the vineyards we own and manage, the variation in soils and microclimates within this small property make it the most challenging to farm. The yields are on average a meager 1.8 tons to the acre, but the fruit possesses a rare power and expression of site. Soils are especially shallow, even for Howell Mountain, and the vines must work through the rocky soils to seek moisture. Since 2009 we have been converting the site to cane pruned so that each vine HAS an individual plan for the amount of crop it will need to ripen. We call this wine our “blood from the stones” for a reason.
Along with the eight acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on the property, we also grow small amounts of the intensely colored and flavored varieties, Merlot and Petit Verdot. These are used primarily for blending, though we do produce a small amount of this Merlot each year, an homage to the Right Bank, for our best customers to enjoy.