A visit to CADE Estate Winery, Napa Valley

Inside CADE Estate Winery

View from CADE Estate Winery

Mindy Joyce, WineryCritic, at CADE Estate Winery, Napa Valley

CADE Estate Winery, Napa Valley

CADE Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

CADE Estate Winery, Napa Valley

Guided tour at CADE, Napa Valley

Manzanita Tree at CADE Estate Winery

Tasting area at CADE Estate Winery, Napa

Vats at CADE Estate Winery

Vineyard at CADE Napa Valley

Sleek and modern, CADE Estate Winery on Napa’s Howell Mountain may be off the beaten path for most, but for the true wine enthusiasts out there, this is a superb example of a winery leading the way in sustainable architecture, organic farming and fine wines.

As one of the newer members of the PlumpJack group, a group of wineries and hotels with investment from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, CADE is sophisticated not just in what you’ll experience when you visit, but the wines themselves are shining examples of the terroir here.  And, like PlumpJack, CADE takes its name from Shakespeare, who used the term to refer to the wine casks, or cades, shipped from Bordeaux to England during Elizabethan times.

My guide, Christian, walked me through the winery and explained how they earned the title of a LEED Gold Certified Winery.  “Some of the things we’ve done to engineer the building to be more environmentally-friendly include solar panels, the use of natural light and the louvers in the top of the building that allow for the cool breeze from the forest to come through,” he said.  And that’s not all.  They also have an electric car charging station.  CADE was the first winery in the US to receive the Gold LEED certification.

As I walked around the interior of the winery and inside the hill behind it, it was obvious that the architect really incorporated a sense of sophistication inside and out.   Inside you’ll find many curving walls and gentle contours that soften the usually stark fermentation area and caves.  Like many of the premium wineries I’ve seen, they use cement egg-shaped fermentation vats, which, at CADE, are specifically made for the Sauvignon Blanc.

In the vineyard, Christian explained that CADE has also gone through the mandatory three year process to become organically certified.  The idea here is they want to make luxury wine in harmony with the environment.  As an organic winery, CADE avoids synthetic fertilizers and insecticides, and instead uses compost to create soil rich with natural nutrition.  This in turn benefits the plant and animal life that helps sustain the vines from year to year.

After my tour we sat down outside to try the wines, but even more than the wines, the setting is stunning. The outdoor tasting area has a long infinity pool which frames the spectacular view of the valley below.  It is a relaxed and personal tasting experience which complements the sophisticated, yet approachable wines.  CADE produces two wines from the 21-acre vineyard; the Estate Cabernet and Howell Mountain Cabernet.  The Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from their PlumpJack estate vineyard in Oakville.

With state-of-the-art equipment and its intensive focus in the vineyard it is no wonder the wines are exceptional.  CADE’s Sauvignon Blanc is now one of my favorites.  Pricier than most, this is definitely one I’ll be looking out for.

Christian also mentioned the winery will be offering a lunch experience with wine tasting.  They also offer a food and wine experience with cheese and charcuterie in the lounge.  These experiences are not available from the Cellar Pass booking site, so I suggest you call ahead if you want something special.

Expert tip:

Allow extra driving time to find the winery.  It is off the beaten path.   Due to the architectural and environmental focus here I do recommend you book the tasting and tour.

WineryCritic Ratings

9/10 Overall visitor experience

10/10 Knowledge of guide

8/10 Location

10/10 Architecture and design, landscaping

9/10 Other experiences: Food & wine pairings, lunches

9/10 Knowledge of tasting room staff

9/10 Friendliness of staff

8/10 Signage & ease of access

10/10 Quality of the wines poured

Appointment required:  Yes

Address:  360 Howell Mountain Road South, Angwin, CA 94508


Tasting room hours: 

Mon-Sun 10:00am to 4:00pm (Appointment only)

Tasting fees:

$35 per person – Hosted tasting of four current release wines (1 hour)

$60 per person – Hosted tour and tasting of five current release wines and cheese pairing (1.5 hours)

Good for: couples, small groups, architectural fans, seasoned Napa visitors, fine wine lovers

Wines produced:  Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon

What’s nearby:  Duckhorn Vineyards, Chateau Boswell, Ladera Vineyards.

District/Appellation: Howell Mountain, Napa Valley

Contact for appointments:  Appointments should be made online through CellarPass.

Date of visit: July 17, 2013

E-mail:  mindy@winerycritic.com