Howell Mountain offers spectacular views and a rich variety of vineyards to explore above the Silverado Trail on the upper east side. The Howell Mountain Appellation was the first AVA to be designated within the larger Napa Valley AVA. The appellation boundaries are actually defined by a 1.400 foot elevation contour line, as opposed to the typical AVA boundaries based on property lines or rivers. Because of the altitude, evening temperatures are generally warmer and daytime temperatures are generally cooler than on the Napa Valley floor.
There are many wineries located on Howell Mountain, but most of them don’t offer tastings at their wineries (they either have tasting rooms elsewhere in the valley, or aren’t open to the public at all). All of the wineries we recommend visiting that do provide tasting experiences require advance reservations, so please plan accordingly.
Favorite Tasting Rooms on Howell Mountain
Burgess Cellars – Burgess Cellars has been family owned and creating wines with mountain distinction since Tom Burgess purchased the property in 1972. The focus here is on estate grown red wines and now the second generation (Steven and James Burgess) is in charge, building on the legacy of their father. Your visit here will begin with a panoramic vista over the Napa Valley, at an elevation of almost 1000 feet, before you taste wines in the winery’s cellar, surrounded by barrels. Burgess may be technically below the official elevation of the Howell Mountain AVA boundary, but we’re still including them here due to their location. Our favorite wines are the Russian River Chardonnay, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. 1108 Deer Park Road, Deer Park (800) 752-9463 [reservation required]
Neal Family Vineyards – Wines made from organically farmed grapes are the attraction at this friendly winery, the culmination of the Neal family’s 40 years of winegrowing in Napa Valley. Owner Mark Neal began making wine from the family vineyard in Rutherford in 1997 and he now uses fruit from vineyards all across Napa Valley (and only from Napa Valley) to make his wines. The Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels here are outstanding. If you make an appointment here, please make sure to drive slowly on the road and don’t bring any animals with you. 716 Liparita Avenue, Angwin (707) 965-2800 [reservation required]
Robert Craig Winery – The wines here explore the depth and breadth of Napa Valley’s mountain appellations and they craft appellation-specific Cabernet Sauvignons from grapes grown on Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain, Diamond Mountain and Mt Veeder. They also produce a Rosé (from Grenache grapes), Chardonnay and Merlot. Their Zinfandel is also made from grapes grown on Howell Mountain (from the Black Sears Vineyard). We love all of their wines, especially the Cabernets and the Chardonnay. Robert Craig’s main tasting salon is in the city of Napa, with a relaxing setting next to the Napa River. On a very limited basis, you may be able to arrange for a tasting at the actual winery on Howell Mountain. Tasting Salon at 625 Imperial Way, Napa (707) 252-2250, winery at 2475 Summit Lake Drive, Angwin [reservation required for either destination]
Viader – Born in Argentina, proprietor Delia Viader forged the vision and design for this unique hillside winery, wine blend and brand over 30 years ago. Leveraging the Bordeaux style of winemaking, she was the first in the area to plant vines in rows going up and down the mountain, following the path of the afternoon sun. You’ll find high quality limited production wines here, and if it’s a nice day, wine tasting on their patio while taking in the view is a lovely experience. Our favorites here are the “Liquid Cashmere” Viader (a proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) and the DARE Cabernet Franc. Please note they cannot accommodate groups of more than 6 people, nor do they allow visiting pets. 1120 Deer Park Road, Deer Park (707) 963-3816 [reservation required]
Howell Mountain Vintners & Growers Association – Association of vintners and growers in the Howell Mountain AVA whose mission is to advance the public image of the AVA, increase awareness of and interest in the AVA, and promote Howell Mountain as the source of distinctive and world-class wines. They also strive to help the local community through philanthropic endeavors.
Napa Valley Vintners – A nonprofit trade association, of over 525 members, that champions Napa Valley as the premier wine region in the world and has a mission to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation.