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    from 2030
  • Food Pairing

    rack of lamb

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The 2019 Helms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is perfumed with red currant, plums, dried violets, star anise, and savory mint and thyme. The tannins are present but precise and elegant. On the palate the wine opens with flavors of plums, black cherry, wildflowers, and sweet spice. The finish lingers with notes of pipe tobacco, fig preserve, and sassafras layered with cocoa powder like tannins. While delicious now, the wine will gracefully gain more volume and complexity as it ages.



The Story

This gently sloping site is relatively cool, and is protected from the intensity of the late afternoon heat during the height of the growing season.  The gravelly loam soils provide excellent drainage and wonderful fruit purity. Helms Vineyard Cabernet displays the classic profile of the Rutherford Bench: dark fruit, richly layered with a touch of spice and earth. The finely grained “dusty” tannins so prevalent in the appellation are integrated and harmonious, producing a wine of sophistication and depth.


Dana's commitment to converting our vineyards to dry-farming continues to show positive results. Dry farming encourages the roots to dig deep for water, and increases their ability to with stand heat events. As a result the vines produce wines that are more vibrant and representative of the terroir. The even temperatures over the summer and fall ripened the vineyard evenly, allowing the team to harvest all of Helms in only two days. They started with the clone 337 on October 9th. The SEE clone in front of the winery was picked the next day on October 10th. Both picks were fermented in upright oak tanks. The fruit was macerated for 35 days. After native yeast fermentation the wines were pressed directly to barrel, where native malolactic fermentation took place.


Wine Information

Our philosophy of minimal intervention in the vineyard is realized through organic farming, a focus on soil health and minimal irrigation. The result is healthy vines that are balanced and produce thick-skinned darkly colored grapes. This gives rise to wines with perfumed aromatics, precise flavors, and silky tannins.  

The cool wet start to the growing season delayed harvest by a couple of weeks. The majority of the vineyard was picked on October 16th. We followed this with a smaller pick of the vines grown in cooler, clay soils on the 22nd. The fruit was nearly perfect with moderately sized berries and no dehydration. The fruit was fermented in an oak upright tank on skins for 20 days. Smaller lots were fermented in a mix of small and large barrels for 33 days. The wines were drained directly into barrel. The wine was racked once for blending in the spring of 2020 and then aged on fine lees until bottling.


Vintage 2019

The winter and early spring brought ample rain to the Napa Valley. A dry April was followed by one of the wettest May’s on record, providing much needed hydration. The moist soils meant the vines had access to nutrients, especially potassium, resulting in full canopies and softer acidity in the wine. The cooler weather through mid-summer slowed shoot growth and delayed verasion by a few weeks. In mid-August the season heated up with 90+ temperatures that continued through the end of September. This allowed the vines to mature with sugar and color accumulation after the cool start to the season. Ideal weather conditions in October allowed the fruit to ripen to optimal maturity without the threat of rain or heat spikes. The 2019 wines reflect the vintage with opulent fruit, silky tannins, and a savory structured finish.



Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

Aromas of red currants, crushed stone, bark and some red licorice follow through to a medium to full body with creamy and medium-round tannins. Hints of chocolate, walnut and stone. Really fine-grained and silky tannins. Try after 2026.

  • 97p

The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Helms Vineyard is soft, open-knit and gracious, as it always is. Silky tannins lend considerable charm to this decidedly polished, understated Cabernet from Dana. Crushed flowers, mint, spice, cedar and sweet pipe tobacco linger on the close. It will be interesting to see if the Helms gains more volume with time in bottle. Today it is decidedly on the ethereal side of things, within the context of these wines. Bright floral notes linger on the close.

  • 96p
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St Helena, Napa Valley
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