Located on the western shoulder of Howell Mountain, Arkenstone Estate rises from 1400 ft. to over 1650 ft. of elevation. With amazing sweeping views looking down over the Napa Valley off one edge and the wild, forested Bell Canyon off the other, our vineyards have some of the most amazing views in the Napa Valley.
History: Arkenstone Vineyards was founded in 1988 when proprietors Ron and Susan Krausz purchased their unique Howell Mountain AVA property. The majority of the vineyards were planted in 1998, with additional planting in 2009. Arkenstone produces all of their wine on the Estate, entirely below ground, in state-of-the-art winery caves (finished in 2008). Their first release, after patiently waiting for the vineyards to reach maturity, was the 2006 Vintage.
Vineyard: The 13 acre Estate vineyard is planted primarily to traditional Bordeaux varietals, and 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 Ranch. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc make up the majority of the plantings, along with a small block of Syrah. The vines are planted on slopes that range from a 2% incline on the flattest blocks to 50% on the steepest. Arkenstone uses exclusively organic practices in the vineyards.
The volcanic soils up here on the western shoulder of Howell Mountain, as well as our Mediterranean climate here in the Napa Valley, give us our very unique terroir. 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 nuanced and layered Bordeaux blend wines are crafted. The poor soils, abundance of rock and the dry, temperate climate combine to create vines that are stressed, producing smaller clusters and berries and lower yields than their valley floor counterparts. Fortunately, however, this hostile environment results in concentrated and intensely flavorful berries. They exhibit a nose and taste profile that is unique to us. This profile is expressed in the wine by robust earthiness, minerality and an intensity of fruit. The wines have consistent depth and balance across vintages. This is the payoff for the difficult and tedious work that goes into the planting and cultivation of our vineyards, especially when farmed organically.
Arkenstone also sources fruit from beautiful non-estate vineyards in the Eastern Mountains of Napa Valley, from Calistoga to Napa, for our non-estate releases.
Because wine making begins in the vineyards, our vineyard management is extremely important. We continuously refine our wine growing practices in response to the unique qualities of each block. Winemaker, Sam Kaplan, is also our vineyard manager and oversees our Estate vineyards as well as working directly with the owners/growers in vineyards from which we source our non-estate fruit.
Having our own winery on the Estate allows us to have more control over every phase of wine making. Built into caves below ground, we are able to use gravity to move the fruit very gently into fermenters during harvest and to take advantage of the naturally occurring, consistent temperatures in the cave to optimally ferment and age our wines. Having the winery entirely underground has also allowed us to minimize land use above ground and maintain the historical beauty of our land.
The Arkenstone winemaking philosophy is based on consistency and elegance – achieved through intense organic farming practices, where extremely low yielding vineyard blocks are able to uniformly mature grapes to perfect ripeness every Vintage. Winemaker, Sam Kaplan, brings his own special palate and solid winemaking skills to the expression of Arkenstone. He very successfully strives for balanced, elegant wines, which are approachable upon release, yet have all of the components that make them worthy of extended aging.