The first Napa Valley microclimate to be designated an AVA, Howell Mountain is renowned for magnificently complex wines of earthy austerity and elegant robustness. Overlooking St. Helena from the Vaca Range on the valley’s northeast side, the appellation encompasses around 14,000 acres, yet possesses only 600 acres of vines. The region is rugged, with vineyards at 1,400-2,200 feet above sea level, avoiding the influences of the fog that often blankets the valley floor below. Even so, Howell Mountain receives cool Pacific breezes. Largely due to the elevation, the climate here is characterized by moderate temperatures that are cooler than in most other parts of the valley. While vineyards in the valley are often blanketed in fog, those on the mountain are enjoying sunshine. The soils of this area are mostly well-drained tuff and volcanic rock. Water retention is poor, producing vines with low vigor and deep roots. Howell Mountain is well known for its Bordeaux varieties and Zinfandels, as well as for its ever expanding collection of prestigious awards.
While the early days of Napa Valley always mentioned the dust in summer, Rutherford Dust referred to an entirely different context. During a recent tasting in Napa Valley held by the Rutherford Dust Society a wide wide range of Rutherford wines shed new light on the long term meaning.
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