Cade Estate Winery
Napa Valley AVA
The vineyard location on acclaimed Howell Mountain provides magnificent fruit
Cade has several important features that separate it from other Napa Valley wineries.
First of all, the vineyard and winery location on acclaimed Howell Mountain provides magnificent fruit with which to make its wines. Secondly, its ownership team of the endeavor brings a wealth of experience and dedication that insures its ultimate success. Finally, Cade Estate has, since inception, produced wines that have garnered serious approval from both the consuming public and wine periodicals everywhere.
It all started in 1995, when the successful PlumpJack Winery on the Oakville Cross was founded. Its fruit originated from the surrounding Napa Valley floor and PlumpJack’s wines won many admirers with its high quality wines. Its owners were politically active – Gavin Newsom (Mayor of San Francisco) and philanthropist Gordon Getty.
Fast forward to 2004. Gavin Newsome is now Lt. Governor of California and Getty is still concerned with his philanthropic endeavors. Another partner, John Conover, then 44, decides to carry on the tradition of excellence begun with PlumpJack Winery.
“We were all in agreement that we needed to find a spot with different terroir and Howell Mountain was at the top of our list,” Conover explained. “We located a property that seemed almost perfect – all the elements were well defined. It had good soils, ample water and an AVA that was universally known for producing great wines.”
The deal was made and the 54-acre site soon became the home to Cade Estate Winery. Cade, by the way, is a Shakespearean term for the wine casks of that era and keeps alive the tradition started with PlumpJack (a character, Sir John ‘PlumpJack’ Falstaff, from Henry V).
Cade Estate Winery sits at an elevation of around 1,800 feet, just above the fog line for Napa Valley. The winery itself is a state-of-the-art facility that features naturally insulated caves and a striking facade that projects Cade Estate’s winemaking greatness.
Not that the wines themselves haven’t taken Napa Valley by storm. Wines from the first vintage were honored by a 95+ by Robert Parker and followed the ensuing year by a 98+ from the same publication.
Does this put pressure on Cade Estate Winery to continue collecting such high numbers?
“Not really,” John Conover continued. “What we try to continue doing is to elevate the wines from our property. We believe in the saying ‘more is not better; better is better; we are in the great grape business.’” Sage tidings from the incredibly successful winery.
The formula for its success is quite simple. The great fruit grown at higher altitudes provide the true varietal flavor that is characteristic of the Howell Mountain AVA. Softer, rounder tannins evolve from this fruit, as opposed to the valley floor fruit that is in abundance in the storied valley.
“That makes the Cade Estate varietals more Bordelaise in nature than their lower altitude counterparts,” Conover added.
John Conover is an interesting aspect of the Cade Estate Winery operation. While a student at Chico State University, Conover was the purchase agent for his fraternity’s numerous beer and wine bashes. He established excellent rapport with a nearby wine store that offered him a job the day he turned twenty-one. “It is all about the passion one feels for what he is doing,” Conover explained further. “Passion is the summation of one’s life experiences. Wine, in its many forms, is my passion and I intend to honor it as much as possible.”
Interestingly, the Cade Estate Winery operation still involves its three owners. Gordon Getty sits in on taste sessions with the company’s winemakers and becomes involved with competitions and the like.
“Gordon is always with us emotionally,” John Conover remarked, “and that means a great deal to all of us.” Despite his extremely busy schedule, Lt. Governor Newsom also manages to find time to assist in winery-related matters. Perhaps the key to Cade Estate Winery’s ultimate success is the fact that a pair of consulting winemakers sit in with Conover and winemaker Danielle Cyrot (St. Clement Vineyards, Stag’s Leap Winery and others) at the final blends tastings. Iconic Napa Valley winemaker Nils Venge brings his many years of expertise to the table along with former Cade Estate Winery winemaker Anthony Biagi, who now fill the role as consulting winemakers.
The winemaking team is indeed world-class and continues to produce excellent results that have catapulted Cade Estate Winery into the highest ranks of Napa Valley wineries. It is a pleasure to bring these marvelous wines to our Platinum Wine Club members. Enjoy!