Regular readers know that I'm in the habit of plugging public wine tasting events for the sole reason that they are among the best ways to learn. Educating your palate through the comparative tasting of 40, 50, or 70 wines over the course of several hours has no equal when it comes to helping you put your finger on a grape variety, a region, or a style of winemaking.
Perhaps the most helpful of such tastings are those that provide a large number of wines of a similar type or kind. Most of the time, such tastings are centered around a particular grape variety. Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Rhone varieties -- such tastings abound. Tastings that focus on a narrowly specific place, on the other hand, seem much less common.
And public tastings of a wide variety of producers from one of Napa's most storied appellations? That's rare indeed.
Which is why you should seriously consider attending the upcoming tasting of more than 30 producers who make wine in the Howell Mountain AVA of Napa.
Howell Mountain sits on the eastern side of Napa Valley, north of the palisades that make up Pritchard Hill and the Stag's Leap District. Rising steeply off the valley floor and sitting above the typical level of fog, this hillside growing area has warmer nights and cooler days than the rest of the valley. While it gets more moisture, the soils are also much less fertile, with a higher percentage of rock than the valley floor, resulting in generally drier conditions for the grapes, and therefore less disease pressure. Perhaps too much is sometimes made of so called "mountain fruit" but it is possible to say that the grapes grown on these rolling slopes tend to be slightly higher in acidity, and are often harvested at lower alcohol levels than the grapes on the valley floor.
Howell Mountain plays host to a number of truly excellent producers, many of whom don't have tasting rooms that may be visited by the public. The chance to taste a lot of these wines side by side is a real treat, and one that any Cabernet lover shouldn't miss.
Producers pouring at this event include: Angwin Estate Vineyards, Arkenstone, Black Sears, Bremer Family Winery, CADE Estate Winery, Charles Krug Winery, Cimarossa, Clif Family Winery, Cresta Velia, Haber Family Vineyards, Hindsight Wines, Howell at the Moon Winery, Howell Mountain Vineyards, KrisTodd Vineyards, Ladera Vineyards, Mirror Napa Valley, Moone-Tsai Wines, Notre Vin, Paravel Wines, Pestoni Family Estate Winery, Piña Napa Valley, Pine Ridge Vineyards, Red Cap Vineyards, Red Thread Wines, Retro Cellars, Robert Craig Winery, Sbragia Family Vineyards, Seek, Selah Wines and Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery.
2019 Howell Mountain Bud Break Tasting
Saturday, March 23
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Presidio Golden Gate Club
135 Fisher Loop
San Francisco, CA 94129
Tickets for the event are $75 in advance or $100 at the door. They can be purchased online. My usual tips for such tastings apply: arrive well fed and well hydrated; wear darker clothes to avoid the occasional red wine stain; leave the perfume or cologne off; and spit if you want the event to be more educational than intoxicating.