Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

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Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Roy Piper on Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:38 am

Thought I would throw this on here a week before Squires just for fun.

I make my own wine at Failla's facility off the Silverado Trail, where more and more people are looking to custom crush. I was talking to Ehren Jordan about his big, wide new cave for barrel storage at Failla and I asked him who else in Napa was making a cave this wide. He mentioned Arkenstone. About 2 weeks later I heard a vineyard management company throw that name out there too, so I got curious. I found out they were a Howell Mountain winery and I tracked down their location, and just drove up and onto the property looking to find out more.

I was pretty stunned at their vineyard views and winery/cave construction and got a tour from their winemaker, Sam Kaplan, who I had never heard of until then. I came back a month later and finally tasted the wine a few weeks ago.

There are literally a dozen new wineries in the works that I know about, many using big name vineyard managers and winemakers. So far, no one in the press is onto them, and in all cases, they have not released wine yet. Of the ones I have tried so far, Arkenstone is the best by far.

I am pretty much a whore for Mountain wine, and really like Howell Mtn wines. But I find that most Howell wines are not really all that good! Up til now my two favorites have been Lokoya first and then O'Shaughnessy. Dunn has never really done it for me (no pun intended.) My reference point for ALL Howell wines are Helen Turley's wines at La Jota in the early and mid 1990's. Arkenstone may be the standard bearer going forward. Their wines and property are that good.

Here is a view looking out eastward. Past the trees is Ladera. (I took all these pics my first trespass out, maybe 2 months ago.)


Here is a stunning view down to the floor in Calistoga


Another view with a wider angle



There is something like 9 acres here of vines. The owners are long time St. Helena residents, not newcomers. They have owned the property for years but took their time getting things up and developed. Their winemaking facility is within their immense cave. Here is their tank room, with a catwalk above still under construction.


A view from the catwalk to the tanks room...


Another wing of their cave. Not sure what barrels will go here yet. They have a separate first and second year barrel wings. All barrels stacked one high. Those are 1-ton bins on the right of the picture for some perspective.


They intend to do occasional tours, but probably not many given their low production. Nevertheless, they are constructing a path within the caves. Here is Sam Kaplan, walkign down that path, which is still under construction.


So...what about the wine?

They make 3 wines....all estate....190 cases of Sauv Blanc, 50 cases of Syrah and 400 cases of Cab. They might get to 1000 cases at some point. All you just saw for 1000 cases. bounce All the wines are from 2006.

The Sauv Blanc is very minerally, lithe and not at ALL like the fat SBs I run into all over the valley. Nice acidity and would probably be a very nice food wine. Might be one of the better SBs in Napa.

The Syrah is just 2 barrels and won't ever get much higher. I am not even sure it will make it out of the winery. If you like Sonoma Coast and cool climate Syrahs, then you will really like this one. Very, very floral with a big body and excellent structure. Probably needs 2-4 more years. Quite Northern Rhone-like but with less pepper. Not an ounce of flab on it.

Finally, the Cab. This is hard for me to be objective on this because I long to find good Howell's and this one is more than good, it is outstanding. Exactly what I want a Howell to be; big, bold, with minerality, blue fruit aromas, crushed rocks...yet at the same time, smooth tannins. It is both smooth and balanced, drinkable now (with air) but obviously an even bigger winner with another 5-10 years.

The fact that these are 2006s and not 2007s is really something, given I find that 06 will be an average vintage for Napa overall. I have not had any barrel samples.

This is the best new winery I know of in Napa coming out this year. I really like Sam, who is super cool. I met the owners twice and they lack ANY pretension. They are just looking to built Arkenstone long-term and make the wine as good as they can. I plan to hang out with this crew! The prices are not yet determined but they won't be cheap. That being said, I know they won't be crazy for the quality.

Their website is still under construction, like everything else. Over time, this looks like it is set to become a major blue-chip Napa winery in time.

www.arkenstonevineyards.com

Very Happy


Last edited by Roy Piper on Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:07 am; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Glenn Levine on Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:44 am

nice photos, know that spot pretty well as i ride my HD around there from time-to-time. near Lail huh? the Sav Blanc is actually estate fruit from up there? interesting for sure. Ric Forman makes very solid Cab Sav up there, ever taste his wines?

thx for the heads up and pretty pics.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  mike pobega on Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:47 am

Nice report mr....rainmaker. Smile
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Michael Bowden on Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:02 am

Pics look great.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  John Holdredge on Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:48 am

Wasn't the arkenstone the jewel that the lead Troll in "The Hobbit" revered so deeply, and which the Hobbit gave to the elves to use for baragaining leverage?

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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Otto Dobre on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:12 am

Thanks for the great report Roy. And the pics look great.

Otto
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Roy Piper on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:14 am

John Holdredge wrote:Wasn't the arkenstone the jewel that the lead Troll in "The Hobbit" revered so deeply, and which the Hobbit gave to the elves to use for baragaining leverage?

That is indeed where they got the name. I had never heard of it before.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  John Holdredge on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:23 am

Roy Piper wrote:
John Holdredge wrote:Wasn't the arkenstone the jewel that the lead Troll in "The Hobbit" revered so deeply, and which the Hobbit gave to the elves to use for baragaining leverage?

That is indeed where they got the name. I had never heard of it before.

what prompted a reference to The Hobbit for such an obviously dedicated and serious endeavor?

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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Brandon Miller on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:28 am

John Holdredge wrote:Wasn't the arkenstone the jewel that the lead Troll in "The Hobbit" revered so deeply, and which the Hobbit gave to the elves to use for baragaining leverage?

Doooooooork


Love the views....joined the list.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Roy Piper on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:32 am

I think the names sounds cool. Chuckled when I heard the source. Maybe it was the only name left! Smile

Finding a name is a bitch!

PS- there is no picture of a Hobbit on the label, I promise. Razz
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  John Holdredge on Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:05 am

Brandon Miller wrote:
John Holdredge wrote:Wasn't the arkenstone the jewel that the lead Troll in "The Hobbit" revered so deeply, and which the Hobbit gave to the elves to use for baragaining leverage?

Doooooooork


Love the views....joined the list.

Brandon- when you finally leave that rich full double income no kids lifestyle behind and get your feet permanently set in a tub of concrete (kids), you'll learn all kinds of useless crap. And besides, much like my cousin vinny, the ability to recollect utterly uselss trivia is the cornerstone (arkenstone?) of any decent lawyer...

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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Brandon Miller on Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:08 am

Hey hey...no Dink here. If you remember correctly I've got little one's. I can quote Finneas and Furb coupled with Hannah Montana all day long.
Laughing
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Yoni Ovadia on Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:15 am

Pics look amazing, thanks for the heads-up. Joined the list as well.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Peter Cargasacchi on Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:48 pm

As a point of clarification, it wasn't the trollop that coveted the arkenstone that dildo stole. It was the hairy little dwarf women.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Yoni Ovadia on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:24 pm

Peter Cargasacchi wrote:As a point of clarification, it wasn't the trollop that coveted the arkenstone that dildo stole. It was the hairy little dwarf women.

Says the man with Dumbledore as his avatar... Razz Razz
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Bob Kaminski on Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:59 pm

Sounds interesting Roy. Thanks for the info. When you say expensive, what does that mean? I hope we are not talking another $100 cab for their first release. In this economy that would be tough sledding.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Jeb Singleton on Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:15 pm

I'm sure it's not a $100 cab.... more like $200. But, nonetheless, I signed up because I'm a mailing-list whore, and that's what mailing-list whores do. :-)
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Bill Tex Landreth on Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:19 pm

Jeb Singleton wrote:I'm sure it's not a $100 cab.... more like $200. But, nonetheless, I signed up because I'm a mailing-list whore, and that's what mailing-list whores do. :-)

Really? You a mailing list whore...who would have thunk?

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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Jeb Singleton on Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:41 pm

Bill Tex Landreth wrote: Really? You a mailing list whore...who would have thunk?

Shocking news right??? Fortunately for me my buying habits don't align with my signing-up habits. And seriously, could you have a more distracting picture?
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Brandon Miller on Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:42 pm

Jeb Singleton wrote:
Bill Tex Landreth wrote: Really? You a mailing list whore...who would have thunk?

Shocking news right??? Fortunately for me my buying habits don't align with my signing-up habits. And seriously, could you have a more distracting picture?

lol!

Who is that?
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Bob Kaminski on Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:48 pm

Jeb Singleton wrote:I'm sure it's not a $100 cab.... more like $200. But, nonetheless, I signed up because I'm a mailing-list whore, and that's what mailing-list whores do. :-)

You need help son...Dr H in the house. OWBD case here.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Bill Tex Landreth on Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:48 pm

Salma Hayek in From Dusk Til Dawn.


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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Brandon Miller on Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:11 pm

HOLY SHIT!

My favorite woman on the face of the earth and I missed it. What's wrong with me.

There is none hotter in my book.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Roy Piper on Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:30 pm

Nooooo, they wont be $200, or even in the upper $100's. But probably lower $100's. I know they have not set the price yet (as of 3 weeks ago.) Given they make 400 cases, I suspect it will all go.

What did that new Dana Estate Cab come out at last month? $225???? $275??? Evil or Very Mad

This will be nothing like that. The range I was told seemed fair for the quality to me, enough that I will get my hands on some for sure.

If any of you can make your way up here sometime in the next few months before harvest approaches, I might be able to swing you by their place. Maybe even get them to open a bottle. You would have to drink out of a trailer on the property, like I did, as the tasting room is under construction, but I might be able to get Sam to bust one out.
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

Post  Steve Manzi on Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:34 pm

Roy,

Thanks for the info and the heads up. I just joined the mailing list, and also sent a quick e-mail mentioning where I got the heads up. From you, but more importantly, from this Forum.

I think it would be a good idea for others to do the same. Get the wineries coming here, and it will help build the site. cheers
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Re: Arkenstone Vineyards: A Winery With A Very Serious Future (w/pics)

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