The vineyard at the heart of the mountain
The 13-acre Estate vineyard is planted primarily to traditional Bordeaux varietals, split into 22 separate blocks. Rootstocks, clones and varietals were carefully selected to match the widely varied soils, slopes and exposures found on the Arkenstone Estate. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc make up the majority of the plantings, in addition to a very small amount of Syrah. The vines are planted on slopes that range from a 2% incline on the flattest blocks to 50% grade on the steepest. Arkenstone exclusively uses organic practices in the vineyards.
The Howell Mountain AVA sits above the fog in the peak growing season during our summer months. As the fog hunkers down on the Valley floor, up here in the sunshine we have more hours of photosynthesis during our daylight hours. This, along with the altitude and a dry, temperate, climate give us, simply put, perfect growing days.
We designed vineyards whose diversity match the breadth of conditions found on the property, and whose fruit provides a broad palate of complex flavors from which balanced and nuanced wines are crafted. Howell Mountain is also known for its nutrient poor volcanic soils and abundance of rock– qualities which combine to create vines that are incredibly stressed, producing smaller clusters and berries and lower yields than their valley floor counterparts. Combining this adversity with long hours of sunlight and ideal temperatures results in concentrated and intensely flavorful berries, robust tannins and great acidity. These Howell Mountain influences, modulated by our farming practices, yield a strong expression of the Arkenstone Estate’s own distinct terroir. The wines exhibit a nose and taste profile that are unique to this vineyard, distinguished by their deep earthiness, minerality, focused tannins, and intensity of fruit. Our wines have consistent depth and balance and are recognizably “Arkenstone” across every vintage.
Wine making begins in the vineyards, which makes vineyard management extremely important. Our Arkenstone Estate vineyard is organically farmed in-house by our long tenured, full-time, crew. We strive to continuously refine our wine growing practices in response to the unique qualities of each block. With a commitment to and focus on quality as well as sustaining our precious resources, we take advantage of carefully chosen new techniques/technology that become available to us as well. From pruning, to leaf thinning, to pre-dawn harvests, working with our own vineyard team makes our meticulous farming practices possible. Winemaker, Sam Kaplan, oversees all vineyard management on our Estate vineyard ensuring seamless integration from farming to fermentation to bottle.
Completed in 2008, our Winery allows us to function as a true Domaine giving us complete control over every aspect of the wine making process. Built deep into the hillside on our Howell Mountain Estate, the Arkenstone winery cave maintains a small footprint, while taking advantage of the natural contours of the land. During Harvest, we use gravity to move the fruit very gently from the above ground crush pad into fermenters below, while naturally occurring, consistent temperatures in the cave allow for optimal fermentations and barrel aging.
The Arkenstone winemaking philosophy is based on consistency and elegance. Along with extremely low yielding vineyard blocks and a very hands on organic farming approach, we are able to uniformly mature grapes to perfect ripeness each vintage. Winemaker, Sam Kaplan, brings his own special palate and well-polished winemaking skills to the expression of Arkenstone. He very successfully strives for elegant, balanced wines, which are approachable upon release, yet have all of the components that make them worthy of extended aging.