The vineyard at the heart of the mountain
Overlooking St. Helena, high upon the western ridge of Howell Mountain, the Arkenstone Estate rises from 1400 ft. to over 1650 ft. of elevation. With amazing, sweeping views looking down over the Napa Valley to the South, Spring Mountain to the West, the wild, forested Bell Canyon to the North, and Mount St. Helena beyond, Arkenstone is a panoramic perch.
From the beginning, and to this day, only minimal changes have been made to the landscape. By utilizing only previously cleared areas for vineyard planting, Ron and Susan have preserved the original integrity of the estate.
The Arkenstone estate encompasses 42 total acres, 13 of which are under vine. These 13 acres are then divided into 22 individual blocks. The majority of the vineyard is planted on a steep slope ranging from a mild 2% gradient up to 50%. Since its inception, Arkenstone has been farmed organically, predating certiﬁcation.
Bordeaux varietals comprise the majority of the plantings, along with a small amount of Syrah. The red varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot are planted mostly on red Aiken loam, whereas the white varietals Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon are planted on volcanic ash (tufa), geologically similar to limestone.
The harvested fruit at Arkenstone is sorted at ground level with the aid of an optical sorter, then gravity fed directly into fermentation tanks. The remainder of the winemaking process takes place in the subterranean winery caves.
Arkenstone wines see minimal intervention, but extended élevage, similar to current practices of the top Châteaux in Bordeaux. As is customary in Bordeaux, only French oak is utilized for the entire production. Sam also incorporates concrete egg vessels to produce the Estate Sauvignon Blanc.
The wines are viniﬁed by individual lots, only coming together after the ﬁnal blend has been decided. This discipline allows Sam to monitor and manage the wine from fermentation to bottle.