Arkenstone: a jewel in the heart of Howell Mountain

Arkenstone Tasting

A 45-minute drive from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, lies Howell Mountain. Upon that mountain some great wineries have been built and one of those is Arkenstone, named after the mountain of the dwarves in the book by Tolkien, The Hobbit. I'll let them explain how they got that trademark!

Arkenstone Caves

The winery sits atop Howell Mountain and is surrounded by pine and oak trees. I got out of the car, smelled the pine and immediately thought of camping. They bought the property almost 30 years ago and didn't do anything with it until the last few years. They hired Phillipe Melke (well-known here in Napa) who comes from a long line of Bordeaux wine-makers to help them decide what and where to plant. With less than 1,000 total cases to be produced the owners had a larger picture in mind for the property. With a huge cave structure they installed lots of modern equipment and barrel storage, not simply for themselves, but to be leased out to others who didn't have room on their properties for equipment or storage. To say the least it is amazing.They themselves only make two wines: a Sauvignon Blanc blend in the style of Bordeaux whites, and a Cabernet Sauvignon blend in the the style of Bordeaux reds. And to both I say: Wowza! (Club Members are entitled to a few other blends they produce). Although Jamie is not a Sauvignon Blanc drinker except when paired with food, he did enjoy this blend of Sauvignon Blanc that brought forth bright fruit flavor with a slight hint of oak balanced with a bright tropical fruit finish with little acidity. ($65)The Bordeaux-style blend, called Estate Obsidian ($135), is simply luscious. Light cherry nose with dark berry fruit on the palate with a hint of spice. What is really great is the finish! It lingers beautifully on the back of your throat for you to enjoy the afterglow of that sip. Now the 2011 is what they are selling and we had the opportunity to try a 2010 and that was stunning. It gave us a great view as to how this wine is going to age and continue to open up. For the collector of fine wine (tasting fee of $45/pp, waived with purchase of $150/pp), I really encourage a visit to Arkenstone.


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