The history of grape growing at Ink Grade Vineyard began in the 1890s when the first vines were planted amidst its mountainous terrain.
In 1989, the Heitz Family acquired this extraordinary 745-acre property — home to an amazing diversity of plant life. Groves of magnificent redwood trees create a "coastal effect" although they are among the furthest inland in Napa County. An equally varied animal population is nurtured by the pristine springs that flourish year round.
The vineyard encompasses elevations ranging from 750 to 2100 feet, one of the highest points in the Howell Mountain AVA. Vines sweep across the ridges in a picturesque tapestry meticulously designed to develop the myriad soils and microclimates in this magical place, while preserving 500 acres of natural habitat and wilderness corridors.
This is a perfect location for Cabernet Sauvignon which is planted in terraced blocks that stretch from 900 feet to the upper reaches. The grapes for our single-vineyard Zinfandel also thrive here, established on a ridge that spans the midpoint.
From the mountaintop on cool mornings, strands of fog are often visible below. Most days around noon, gentle breezes ascend the mountain creating a lower temperature than the valley floor and preventing heat spikes. Although the cooler climate results in later bud break, the vineyard is northeast facing which allows the vines to luxuriate in prolonged hours of bright sunshine during the growing season.
Production levels throughout the Ink Grade Vineyard are limited by its distinctive series of volcanic soils. The vines are naturally stressed in these soils as the grapes mature, resulting in loose clusters of fruit with small berries that are usually half the weight of those on the valley floor. The grapes display an intensely deep purple hue, and they are well-structured with spicy notes and round ripe tannins.
We have farmed this land sustainably since the first days of our stewardship. Today the majority of our Ink Grade Vineyard acreage is either certified organic (CCOF) or is within the three-year transition period for certification.