Edition 32 | November 2020
Hello Mountain Wine Club!
The Mountain Wine Club was created for those who appreciate the concentrated flavors of mountain fruit and the immense effort required to cultivate grapes at high elevations. We are fortunate to make wine from two of the greatest mountain appellations in the world, Howell Mountain and Mt. Veeder, and we are proud to bring them to you.
For the November Mountain Wine Club shipment, we’re sending you a wine from each of these Napa Valley appellations: 2016 La Jota Vineyard Co. W.S. Keyes Vineyard Merlot from Howell Mountain and 2017 Mt. Brave Syrah from Mt. Veeder. We chose these wines to pair perfectly with your holiday dining and celebrations, and I know you’ll love them.
Winemaker Chris Carpenter
The 2016 vintage of W.S. Keyes Vineyard Merlot comes from some of the oldest Merlot vines on Howell Mountain. The W.S. Keyes Vineyard was planted in 1888, and ten years later, fellow Howell Mountain pioneer Frederick Hess established the La Jota Vineyard Co. The rocky, shallow soils, the abundance of wind and fog, and the remoteness of Howell Mountain terroir were reminiscent of Europe where some of the best wines in the world were being produced. Keyes and Hess believed that Napa Valley could achieve the same distinction – and they were right. Both men achieved recognition for their wines at the Paris Exposition of 1900, bringing instant fame to Howell Mountain.
2016 had an early beginning as we had a near perfect spring season. The growing conditions during the summer had few extremes, however, the ripening period was almost ideal with a brief late September heat spike. Just a touch of rain rounded out the end of October wrapping up a great season overall.
High-elevation winegrowing requires a painstaking, labor intensive approach. Thin, rocky soils and steep slopes make water retention a challenge and erosion a threat, but the vines benefit from the struggle and produce concentrated flavors. The high altitude keeps midday temperatures cooler than those in the valley below, while the position above the fog line gives grapes longer daily exposure to sunlight. This regularly extends the growing season into November, and the increased hang-time results in peak ripeness and full varietal complexity.
In 2017, a wet spring was followed by a mild growing season then a mid-September heat wave, followed by a cooling period. Then high winds brought wildfires, but with great fortune, the entirety of the fruit for this Syrah had been harvested and was safely in our winery before that devastating event. The 2017 Mt. Brave Syrah is one of the very few wines from the 2017 vintage, making it one to collect and cherish.