CADE Winery, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley

As we approach the Holidays, and the end of the year, I have been reflecting on what an adventure 2011 has been... the ups, the downs, the ups, the downs... "2011: The Year of the Roller Coaster."  Other comparisons come to mind: the stock market, ocean waves in a turbulent storm, the groove of a bad toupee... and best of all, the mountains and valleys of the Mecca of New World Wine: Napa Valley.  I was fortunate to recently come across a few bottles of CADE Winery Napa Cuvee, and I bought them without question.  It brought back memories of Erica's and my fantastic trip to Napa Valley earlier this year... very, very good times.

CADE was the first of many stops in our trip to Napa and Sonoma, and what a welcoming beginning it was.  We began the day driving from the southern part of the vale, near Atlas Peak, heading north on Silverado Trail, picking out the wineries we'll be visiting later in our trip... Darioush, Duckhorn's Paraduxx, ZD Winery... we couldn't wait.  We approached Howell Mountain, observing the mist still lingering amongst the evergreen trees on the slopes of the mountain, eager to discover the red gold at PlumpJack's progeny winery.  As we climbed the winding roads of Mount Howell, ducking in and out of forest, beautiful sneak peeks of the horizon were beyond description... offering the view of the neighboring mountains with similar topography and fauna, and the valleys beyond, all littered with vineyards and farms... with the occasional goat and seemingly Celtic rock wall.

At the end of our journey (well, technically the end of our hybrid car ride): CADE Winery.  A very sexy, zen-centered property with an organic ambiance and "green" atmosphere... and LEED certification.  The view below is the first sight to behold at the top of the drive... CADE's wine cave and processing facility.

Upon walking up to the tasting house, through the zen garden woods and over to the river of an ornamental pool and fountain... to CADE's house patio.  Our wonderful host, Mary Ann, welcomed us with a glass of wine while we waited for her to prepare the tasting room table.

We then proceeded to witness a glimpse into Heaven: CADE's portfolio.  I've detailed the tasting notes of each sampled bottle of wine in the following post (yes, I wrote this backward, but for the appropriate effect). This is the stuff dreams are made of... had these wines been around 50 years ago, Marilyn Monroe would have sung about them in her Christmas carols: "Santa, baby... there's one thing I really do need... the deed... to CADE Winery... Santa cutie... so hurry down and bring your wine key."  [I just repeated that aloud and nobody laughed... oh well, I still think I'm funny.]

After we enjoyed the amazing portfolio, we grabbed a small glass of our favorite, and strolled over to the cave and fermentation center... it was fascinating!  CADE's logo, the perfectly symbolic Manzanita tree, rests just outside the plant's entrance, and has been integrated into the symbolism for which CADE stands.  The property was built around the tree, and incorporating it into the winery's vision, it represents a union between CADE and the terroir of the appellation in which it rests: the Howell Mountain AVA.  You will find that the red color of CADE's Cabernet label to be the exact match to the symbolic Manzanita tree outside the cave.

The entrance to the cave a grand one... brilliant fermentation tanks and beige and red-striped oak barrels lining the walls, begging you to explore more.  We then followed our guide, Mary Ann, into the cave; a slow decline tunnel, lined with barrels, that then "branched" (haha... get it?... branched... like a tree... ok, I'm done) from a large football-shaped dome decorated with more oak barrels and concrete eggs.  The acoustics were fascinating... you could hear a pin drop from the opposite side of the dome... or whisper things for, well, everyone to hear.  In the center of the dome, sat a table being readied for a wine dinner hosted in the cave (something for my next visit??!!).  The whole experience was incredible.

We then ended our tour by back-tracking through the primary tunnel, leading us back to the entrance of the cave, out the loading dock door, viewing the main tasting house, that left a lasting impression of the entire facility in our minds forever.  Start to finish was a morning adventure worthy of kings, and we had a blast.  We expressed our sincere appreciation to Mary Ann for her wonderful hospitality, and felt privileged to experience one of Napa's great houses.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit, don't pass it up.  


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