Gavin Newsom, Gordon Getty, and John Conover shared a vision of an estate vineyard that complements the valley floor terroir of PlumpJack Estate Winery in Oakville. In 2005, that dream came to fruition in the form of a 54-acre estate elevated high above the fog line on the dramatic slopes of Howell Mountain. Given the opportunity to build the winery from the ground up, Newsom, Getty, and Conover were committed to constructing a state-of-the-art winery that would pay tribute to the land, both aesthetically and ecologically.
This commitment would go above and beyond the standard benchmark of environmental responsibility, especially in the world of wine, with the end goal of constructing the first CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) organically farmed, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified Estate Winery in the Napa Valley. In 2006, they found architect Juan Carlos Fernandez to design Napa Valley’s first LEED Gold Certified Estate Winery. Construction began in 2007, and the estate, at an elevation of 1,800 feet, became the canvas of Fernandez’s artistry. The two-fold commitment was initiated in the vineyards with a painstaking program of natural cultivation to convert the vineyards to organic farming practices. “Change is good, green is good, organic is good,” says CADE partner John Conover about the estate’s environmentally proactive approach to winemaking. “We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do as stewards of the land.”
Set against a backdrop of staggering Napa Valley vistas, the modern, contemporary design of the winery blended right in with the impressive contrast of the estate, where organically cultivated vineyard rows meet tall evergreens and native Manzanita trees. The building’s striking architecture was designed to be a dialogue between gentle contours and strong rectilinear forms, suggesting the complexity of the wines: powerful yet nuanced expressions of the mountain terroir. Every detail of the winery, from the shape of the cellar to the natural insulation of the caves, supports winemaking that brings out the personality of the unique terroir.
Today, Winemaker Danielle Cyrot crafts high-elevation Cabernet Sauvignon that articulates the intense, powerful character of our estate while maintaining a balance of mountain fruit, firm acidity, and judicious oak for layered, complex wines, reflecting approachability and age ability. This nuanced, artisanal expression is what we refer to as Modern Howell Mountain.