CADE is part of the PlumpJack Group, a partnership between Gordon Getty, Jack Conover, and Gavin Newsome, that began as a retail shop in San Francisco and now encompasses wineries, retail shops, hotels and resorts, and restaurants. CADE, located on Howell Mountain, was the second of three wineries added to the group, after PlumpJack and before Odette. The winery’s name comes from Shakespeare, who referred to the casks that wines were shipped in as “cades.”
The winery was established in 2005 and sits 1,800 feet up in the Howell Mountain AVA. Out of 54 acres, 19 are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and two with Merlot. The rest are natural meadows and forests. It’s a beautiful property with sweeping views down the valley, a simple yet stunningly elegant tasting and hospitality facility, and a modern and efficient winemaking facility — the first 100% LEED Gold-Certified estate winery in Napa Valley.
The vineyard enjoys typical Howell Mountain climate and geology, with volcanic rocky soils that range from lighter colored ash to reddish iron-rich parcels, all overlying volcanic bedrock that is nutrient poor. Steep hillsides provide excellent drainage and another level of stress to the vines, and require that most work be done by hand due to the pitch. The ripening cycle is typically a little late in this climate, from bud break through harvest. In the mornings, when the valley floor is socked in with fog, vines are often basked in the sun. In the evenings, temperatures drop rapidly allowing the grapes to keep their balance in the cool mountain night air, maintaining acidity as maturation slows, and hang times are prolonged.
CADE makes Sauvignon Blanc, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, an Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Reserve Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are self described as “modern Howell Mountain” in style, to which I would largely agree — deep, dark, and plush, with plenty of ripe, rich concentrated fruit to match their underlying Howell Mountain structure, with ample but well integrated oak as a rule.
Winemaker Danielle Cyrot came to CADE from St. Clement and was also assistant winemaker to Robert Brittan at Stags’ Leap Vineyard. She graduated from Davis with a viticulture and enology degree, and was originally not even considering a career in wine, despite having a French father with whom she travelled to France, and a great grandfather who owned a Burgundian winery years ago. While at Davis she took an introductory wine class, caught the bug and never looked back. During her school years, she worked harvests at Schramsberg and Artesa and travelled and worked in France and southern Australia.
Speaking of the terroir and unique nature of Howell Mountain fruit, Danielle says that managing the firm, solid structure inherent in this terroir is one of the key challenges. She prefers to extract color, aromas, and flavors early, with hot, fast fermentations and shorter maturations, gaining all the elements she desires and “taming the tannic beast,” yet it’s safe to say she never has to worry about being short on structure.
These are beautiful, well-made wines offering up loads of ripe, modern style fruit, and deep, dark concentration, with plenty of Howell Mountain character and style.