Howell Mountain AVA is on the eastern side of the Napa Valley, in the Vaca Mountain range. The wines here are powerful and intense—they reflect the mountainous terrain, high elevations, and ancient volcanic soils of the area. At 1700 feet elevation, the Polaris Vineyard is one for the books. Here, Cabernet grapes ripen on 5% south-facing slopes on red volcanic stoney clay-loam soil, making wines that are ahead of their time—and well worth the wait.

For this reason, we pair our Howell Mountain AVA wines with the life and works of Emily Brontë, whose sole novel, Wuthering Heights, made as big an impact on the canon of literature as some writer’s entire body of work.

Profound and Powerful: Howell Mountain AVA Wines

Wuthering Heights’ exploration of haunting love and non-linear storytelling has inspired generations of writers. The intensity of the intersection of civilization and nature in her greatest work embodies the unique terroir of Howell Mountain and the winemakers who dare to make wine here.

Each vintage is unique. Take a look at our most recent Howell Mountain bottles and what Wuthering Heights quote represents it best.

2016 was a perfectly well-behaved year, weather-wise, of course.
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

2017 was a little temperamental, with a few heatstrokes following a cool, rainy beginning.
“It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.”

2018 was mild and well-tempered, and contemplative.
“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.”

2019 was beautiful and sunny.
“She burned too bright for this world.”

In 2021, a severe year of drought left little fruit on the vine—but what was left was pure gold.
“Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

2022 was hot and rainy; the weather seemed to have a mind of its own.
“Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out in the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.”

2023 was cool and breezy; a welcome reprieve.
“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here?”

Wines of Imposing Structure And Depth

The mountainous terrain of Howell Mountain AVA prompts big temperature swings from day to night—an emotional rollercoaster, for sure, but the perfect conditions for grapes to thrive and ripen. Positioned well above the valley floor, the grapevines enjoy the drainage that the decomposed volcanic ash, called tufa, that the soil provides.

The tufa is also low in fertility, which encourages the vines to reach into the depths of the earth in search of nutrients, and this struggle brings a Brontë-esque intensity to the wines. The region is also home to a good amount of red clay, a soil whose high iron content creates wines of powerful structure. Aromas of fruit and minerality, which may otherwise be brief, make an astounding impact that only gets better with time.

We hope that you appreciate the wildness of these wines as much as we’re humbled by our ability to contain and carry their story.