Cade is cutting edge green and beyond.
The winery on Howell Mountain was built to reflect the rugged masculine feel of the terrain, resting on a steep rocky slope surrounding by towering trees. "Cade" is a Shakespearean reference to a cask or barrel.
As general manager John Conover explained in this video clip, Cade is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, which means the winery has an environmentally sustainable design.
The winery is mostly concrete (with a special concrete mix made from recycled materials), steel and glass, with little wood.
The steel, for example, is recycled. There are solar panels. The wall insulation is from recycled jeans and the barrels for the winery’s Cabernets are aged in caves built into the hillside. It’s “green luxury,” said Conover, including showers for those who peddle their bikes up the steep mountain road to work.
The $16 million, 15,000-square-foot winery, designed by Carlos Fernandez of Lail Design Group in St. Helena, and built by Grassi & Associates, of Napa, is a sister to Plumpjack winery. The wines, Sauvignon Blanc and a trio of Cabernets, are all excellent, with Anthony Biagi overseeing winemaking.
I tried the flinty 2007 Sauvignon and all three 2006 reds. The Cade Napa Cuvée ($60, 2,500 cases) comes from grapes grown at To Kalon, Dr. Crane, Kenefick and Ink Grade vineyards; it’s intense and structured, with dried currant and sandalwood flavors. The Howell Mountain bottling ($74, 1,500 cases), from the Outpost and Tru vineyards, is denser and very concentrated, yet avoids being overly tannic and tasted rather elegant. The estate Howell Mountain ($NA, 300 cases) has a minty edge, yet is intense, vibrant and elegant and tasting young. It has 16 percent Merlot, with hints of minerality, lively acidity and fine-grained tannins, worth looking for as they come to market in coming months.
The winery is beautiful if utilitarian, nestled into the hillside at the 1,600-foot elevation and super "green." It's likely an indicator of what lies ahead with winery design.