Wines from appellation’s early and newer producers shine at Charles Krug Winery showcase.
The Howell Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) celebrated the appellation’s 4oth anniversary with an August 2023 seminar and tasting at Charles Krug Winery. On the seminar’s panel, moderated by Elton Slone, the president and CEO of Robert Craig Winery, were AVA founding members Bob Brakesman of Summit Lake Vineyards, Randy Dunn of Dunn Vineyards, and Mike Beatty of Howell Mountain Vineyards, along with Chris Carpenter, the longtime winemaker at La Jota Vineyard Co. The lead photo shows the energetic Slone getting pumped up before what turned out to be a casual conversation among old friends about the appellation’s establishment.
Brakesman recalled surprising his wife with a 1971 birthday card containing the deed to their Howell Mountain land, Dunn the informal discussions that led to the AVA proposal, and Beatty his ranch’s old-vine Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Carpenter waxed poetic about what distinguishes a Howell Mountain wine: “From a flavor perspective . . . it’s got this incredible depth and middle body and textural component, and minerality that’s like when you take two tufa stones and smash ’em up against one another, and that dust gets in your nose. That’s in every glass of wine. It’s got dark fruit that screams California but that herbalness . . . reminiscent of Bordeaux and the origins of Cabernet.”
Following the seminar, nearly two dozen early and newer members poured wines that shined individually but collectively embodied the characteristics Carpenter described. Below are photos from Instagram and Facebook posts of some that stood out among those tasted.
I cover Howell Mountain wineries for Fodor’s Napa and Sonoma and other media outlets.