Patricia Howe Wines owns what is among the smallest bonded, freestanding winery structures in the United States. The city of Napa has a regulation that allows residential home owners to bond part of their houses for commercial wine production. Typically, this is one's garage with a chain link fence separating the bonded winery from the rest of the garage. In this case, it is a stand-alone winery building in the backyard that tops out at 104 square feet!
Patricia has a long history of being around and working with sparkling wines in the Napa Valley. While working towards her degree at UC Davis, she was already working at Domain Chandon. After graduating in 1983, she worked at Chandon full-time as a research enologist, and then became winemaker and technical director of its entire winemaking program. During her time at Chandon, she also had unique opportunities to work in France at Moet Chandon and Domain Chandon in Australia, as well as with small lot wines in Napa.
Patricia's Pinot Noir is made in a champagne style with the alcohol levels very well managed. Both vintages are between 12.2 and 12.5%. The tiny freestanding winery translates into minute productions. Patricia made only 50 cases of the 2007 Pinot Noir and 20 cases of the 2008. Patricia sources most of her fruit from Carneros but has also used fruit from Suisun and the Sonoma Coast. These are wines she enjoys to drink: balanced, with lower alcohols, and food-friendly.
The 2008, despite having similar acidity to the 2007, is more of a food wine. The nose is earthy and slightly dusty with notes of blueberry and cherry. The mouth-watering palate is slightly tart, though not unripe, with flavors of raspberry and cherry.
The 2007 unfortunately is sold out; this wine is delicate, rounded, and drinks beautifully by itself. The tannins are plush and soft; this is an elegant wine. Patricia made a change in the oak program between the two years, and sourced different fruit which contributed to differences in vintage.
The winery is bonded number 16019 which, as Patricia says, is a name of a comet. This name serves as her label for the Pinot Noir.
While certainly not the focus of her operations, Patricia has produced several vintages of vinegar to date. The vinegar is made from additional base wine that is made for her sparkling program.
Her red wine vinegar is made from both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and her wine vinegar is made from the classic sparkling varietals with a lesser percentage of Pinot Noir. Both vinegars have intense flavors and higher acidities. This is a case where a lot goes a long way! Patricia recommends these for salads and marinades and, because of the higher acidities, she has been able to use the vinegar for pickling cucumbers. The vinegars are sold in half bottles but larger quantities can also be ordered.
With such a small production and space for the crush, everything is done on a smaller scale. She uses half-sized barrels, a small press, and a tiny tank. Almost everything is done by hand, including the harvest, the crush, the riddling, and the disgorging.
All of her wine is available directly, either through the website or by calling her. The vinegar is also available directly with local distribution in Vallerga's market in the Redwood Plaza near Highway 29 in the city of Napa.
Open to Public: Private
Appointments: No, Call
Regular Tours: No