CADE, Howell Mountain, Napa

It all starts with PlumpJack. The PlumpJack Group began in 1992 as a wine shop on Fillmore Street in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow district.  In 1994, partners Gavin Newsom and Gordon & Bill Getty expanded into a neighboring storefront, creating the beloved (lamented) PlumpJack Café.  In 1995 they opened PlumpJack Winery to instant acclaim.  The winery, known for estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, was created on the site of the historic Villa Mt. Eden winery in Napa’s Oakville AVA and dates back to the 1870s. The truly Grand Cru region is shared with some of California’s finest - Groth, Cardinale, Screaming Eagle, Opus One and Silver Oak.

Gavin Newsom served as mayor of San Francisco from 2004 until 2011, when Governor Schwarzenegger appointed him Lieutenant Governor of California.  While mayor, he championed gay rights and flouted California law by granting marriage licenses to gay & lesbian couples. Gordon Getty is a well-known philanthropist and composer.  His family is perhaps most visible these days as patrons of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  It is Gordon’s love of Shakespeare and all things Elizabethan that direct the name and style of PlumpJack – and maybe a bit of his mischievous character, too.  ‘Plump Jack’ refers to Sir John Falstaff (Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor). In 20 years, PlumpJack Group has grown to include a hospitality group (The Squaw Valley Inn, Carneros Inn, Balboa Café), 2 wine shops and 3 wineries: Cade is one of them. 

Cade was established in 2005 as a complement to PlumpJack’s valley floor terroir. The name Cade is another Shakespearean term referring to the wine casks – cades – used to ship wine from France to Elizabethan England.  The winery and vineyards were established on a virgin site at 1800 feet elevation on Howell Mountain.  Of the estate’s 54 acres, 21 are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot.  The vineyards have been farmed organically from the start and the winery itself was Napa’s first LEED Gold Certified estate winery.  Even the insulation is made from recycled blue jeans. Cade’s first vintage was 2006 and fruit for the Napa Cuvee and Howell Mountain Cabs was sourced from carefully selected, prestigious vineyards: Ink Grade, Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, To Kalon and Outpost.  In 2007, Cade released their first vintage of Estate Cabernet.  Like PlumpJack Reserve Cab, Cade Estate is bottled half with cork and half with Stelvin closure. The first vintages of Cade were made by the PlumpJack team – winemaker Tony Biagi and consultant Nils Venge.  In 2012, each winery received a dedicated new winemaker - Danielle Cyrot at Cade, and Aaron Miller at PlumpJack – and Tony moved into a consulting role.

Cade produces 5 wines. The Sauvignon Blanc is from the PlumpJack estate vineyard, is partially fermented in concrete ‘eggs’ to add texture and complexity and includes some Semillon & Viognier in the blend. The Estate Sauvignon Blanc hails from the same vineyard and is aged in barrique (winery direct only). The Napa Cuvee Cab combines fruit from Howell Mountain and the valley floor to achieve an entry-level, approachable Cab. The Howell Mountain Cab is an ‘appellation wine’ designed to flaunt the distinctive terroir of this small AVA. It’s best described as a clenched fist in a velvet glove. The Estate Howell Mountain Cab is 100% estate-grown Cab and effortlessly straddles the line between power and elegance. It’s the crème de la crème.