Off the Beaten Path: Exploring Nickel & Nickel’s Hillside Cabernets


Off the Beaten Path: Exploring Nickel & Nickel’s Hillside Cabernets

Calling all mountain wine lovers! At Nickel & Nickel, we currently grow and craft single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon across eight Napa Valley appellations. Some, like Oakville and Rutherford, stretch across the fertile Napa Valley floor and up into the lower foothills. Others, like Howell Mountain, climb to rugged elevations that stretch into and above the fog line. There, the weathered soils tend to be less nutrient-rich and the climate variations more extreme. And, Nickel & Nickel Winemaker Joe Harden says, you can taste those differences in the wines that result.

Ready to explore Nickel & Nickel’s more rugged side?

From the Howell Mountain Cabernet Joe says “hits on all cylinders” on to his favorite biodynamic bottling, Winemaker Joe Harden and Director of Vineyard Operations John McCarthy share the dirt on three of Nickel & Nickel’s most distinguished hillside Cabernets.

Howell Mountain Cabernet Beatty Ranch

Nickel & Nickel Beatty Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley

The Epitome of Howell Mountain Expression

The Dirt: “Nestled in a more lushly forested pocket at the top of Howell Mountain, this site is surrounded by towering sequoias, Douglas firs, redwoods and even cypress. And it is the rare volcanic site that possesses an incredible water-holding capacity, so you have the rugged weather conditions and red, rocky soils that give us beautiful balance and healthy vines with low, concentrated yields.” – John McCarthy, Director of Vineyard Operations

Flavor Profile: “Beatty offers this beautiful, pure expression of Howell Mountain. The Cabernet comes from old vines and are usually among the last to be harvested. The result is this muscular wine with dark fruit and ample tannins. It’s a wine that feels pretty and fresh on the palate, but also has power and intensity. When it comes to Howell Mountain wine expression, Beatty really hits on all cylinders.” – Joe Harden, Nickel & Nickel Winemaker

Howell Mountain Wine Bear Track Vineyard

Nickel & Nickel Bear Track Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Rich and Rugged, On Repeat

The Dirt: “While Bear Track is only a few miles (as the crow flies) from Beatty Ranch, it falls just outside the Howell Mountain lines. And while the soils are also a red volcanic ash, this east-facing hillside feels almost barren in comparison. Where Beatty is a melting pot of trees, Bear Track is dotted with scrappier oak and pine trees. The vineyard is terraced, the vines are more stressed, the clusters are small and tight and the fruit is concentrated, intense and dark.” - John

The Flavor Profile: If you’re looking for intensity and color, then Bear Track is the mountain Cabernet for you. Thanks to its open location and eastern exposure – all that beautiful morning sun – Bear Track is one of our first to be harvested each year. My most important job in the winery is not to over-extract all the big structure, concentrated fruit and big tannin this Cabernet possesses. When we achieve that balance, then you get elegant rose petal and cassis aromas, rich layers of dark fruit, integrated tannins in sip after sip after sip. In other words, a hillside Cabernet that is truly spectacular.” - Joe

Hillside Cabernet Element 28 Vineyard

Nickel & Nickel Element 28 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

The Biodynamic Beauty

The Dirt: “Element 28 Vineyard looks like it was lifted from a postcard: a golden hillside overlooking Lake Hennessey, surrounded by full oak trees. Farmed biodynamically, this 13.82-acre vineyard is a closed circle, with everything that goes into the soils and vines coming exclusively from the property itself. Zero outside input. The soils are some of the shallowest I’ve ever worked with. The unterraced vines are south and southwest facing, which is the viticultural ideal. The days are hot, the nights are cold, with Lake Hennessey offering an additional cooling influence. The vines give us loose clusters with small berries. It’s just the most extraordinary site, and the wines that result are breathtaking.” - John

The Flavor Profile: “Element 28 is one of the most nuanced Cabernets in the portfolio, and I think biodynamic farming is a key factor in Element 28’s success. This wine has beautiful length and presence. It’s both powerful and elegant. It’s also beautifully perfumed, with hints of lavender and dried cacao, followed by volume and generous fruit on the palate, all supported and lifted by mature hillside tannins and lively acidity. Basically, it possesses all the traits that give a wine true complexity, and that will allow it to age with real grace.” - Joe

Ain’t No Mountain High, Ain’t No Valley Low: From celebrated Oakville vineyards that stretch across the fertile Napa Valley floor to terraced tracts that climb into the foothills and mountainsides, Nickel & Nickel’s portfolio of single-vineyard Cabernets is a celebration of Napa Valley’s geographic diversity. Come and experience these special wines with us firsthand! Reserve a wine tasting on the back porch of our Oakville, Napa Valley winery. Claim a table beside the pond outside our Queen Anne-style farmstead and classically built barns. Every Nickel & Nickel wine experience is exclusive to your group, with seating generously spaced across the property. It's one of the most delicious ways to spend a day in the Napa Valley.

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