List your favorite high altitude CA Cabs

I have been out of the loop for about a decade other than a few usual big names, and they are not at altitude. Please tell me where you think the best high altitude CA Cabs come from and why.

Monte Bello for sure. It’s a wine that requires and repays aging by transforming beautifully, more than other CA Cabs IMO.

My lady came out to visit me a few weeks ago and wanted to go tasting, so she decided on Ram’s Gate. I was a little concerned that it would be too touristy. The facilities were beautiful and the wines were great, but I was really taken by their 2011 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s actually a single vineyard up in the Mayacamas, west of Mt Veeder. Under 14%, really fresh, earthy, complex and a bit of the herbal streak that’s ripened right out of a lot of Cabernet. A real steal at our discounted industry price, but not at all overpriced at the winery’s $52. I think it has great aging potential, as well.

Pride is always a favorite. Post Foley the wines are supple and opulent.

Nolan, Mike,

Have you had any other Mt. Veeder cabs and do they all express the herbal quality. I’m trying to poll the hive to tease out what elevation will do to the variety what might be consistent no matter the location. Will they all require long aging due to the vibrant structure etc. Many years ago I bought Pride Cabs and enjoyed them(drank all too fast). We now get Zin from the next hill over towards NW. I don’t remember them having any herbal notes or having bright structure but that was probably late 90s. I’ve traded Pinot with Rams Gate in the past, will have to check out that Cab.


So any other Cabs near Monte Bello that you have tried? Are they similar or is that vineyard so distinct. I know the Ridge history but don’t remember hearing of neighbors in any of the stories.

Mayacamas is probably the easiest Mt Veeder Cabernet to talk about, and I think they capture the herbal/tobacco note pretty well. I’ve had Godspeed (nice stuff, not overblown), Hess (a little anonymous but nice enough), Mount Veeder Winery (same take as Hess) and Robert Craig (one of the more ripe versions of a Veeder Cab I’ve had).

I think of Mt Veeder as being very similar to Spring Mountain, if not a bit more rustic and austere. Hard to tell if it’s strong terroir or winemaking (likely a combination of both).

I also believe Mt Veeder carries a lot less cache than many other Napa AVAs, so the people who make wine there are pretty set in their ways and aren’t interested in making over-the-top, high-scoring wines because they were there before the paradigm shift in 1997.

OP: what do you define as high Altitude?

As far a neighbors of Ridge Mount Edan Estate and Fellom Ranch (under their own lable, hit or miss, and the fruit they sell to others).

Togni, Ridge and Mt. Eden are my favorites and I like others on Spring Mtn (Pride, Peacock, and Match). Not sure if it’s altitude or winemaking or a combination.

Brice Station, Calaveras Co, is above 3K ft in elevation. Interesting Cab in good vintages.

It doesn’t get much play here but Hess still makes a nice cab up there, pretty reasonably priced by today’s standards.

Ridge Monte Bello and Dunn Howell Mountain. Great wines, fairly priced and built for aging. Not sure if Forman is considered high altitude but his Cabs share the same characteristics.


Not sure if 1400 ft. qualifies but I love Oakville Ranch - a wine really off most people’s radar but Anne Vawter is doing some great things there (and at Hoopes)! I also believe they source to Ovid (who they are adjacent to).

Mt. Eden makes a Cab that is well regarded but honestly I can’t tell you anything about it. I’m not sure if their vineyards are all in the same place but at least part is on a mountain more or less adjacent to MB but somewhat lower in altitude. There are vineyards down the hill from there to so I’m not sure if it’s all “high altitude.”

Ridge also makes their Estate Cab from Montebello Ridge. The young ones I’ve had are good and have some similarity to young MB (though they are easier to drink young), but I haven’t had any older ones.

Ridge made Cab from Jimsomare which is about halfway up the road to Monte Bello. That might be an interesting comparison.

Pretty, pretty good.

The Napa Valley floor goes between about 50’ and 350’ I think. Silicon Valley is similar. Ridge is around 2000’ up with vineyards above and below that. I’m not sure of the elevation of those around Napa.

Calaveras County that Glenn mentioned has a very different profile - a gradual climb from the Central Valley into the Sierras. There are a bunch of wineries around 1000-2500’ near Angels Camp, Sonora and Murphys. It heads up steadily and reaches 4000’ a bit to the East (Big Trees where you can grow Sequoias but probably not many grapes!). It’s really different than SV and Napa where the valley and the mountains are sharply delineated.

La Jota

BRAND, great people and amazing wines from Pritchard Hill. Also Pulido Walker, Gandona, Montagna, Checkerboard. All are truly terrific.

Lokoya Mt. Veeder is sick.

Just wish I could afford it.

Mount Eden Estate Is at a lower elevation than the top of Ridge Monte Bello but is indeed from a single vineyard planted by Martin Ray after selling Paul Mason. Ridge has aquired and planted much of Monte Bello Ridge down to and including Jimsomare and now includes all blocks in consideration of their final Monte Bello blend. The Jimsomare Cabs were often nearly as good as the Monte Bello cab.

Edit to add that the Mount Eden Estate is a mountain over to South of Monte Bello (Black Mountain iirc) seperated by Stevens Creek which feeds the reservoir which you pass when visiting Ridge’s Cupertino winery.