Loyal Hughes is a warm, charming, and gregarious gentleman. I had the tremendous pleasure of sitting down with him and his lovely wife, Linda, during a local harvest party at a winery not far from Loyal’s own Howell Mountain five-acre vineyard. Harvest parties are potluck affairs with most local winemakers bringing their own bottles to share. Lucky me, as Loyal’s wines have a whopping production of only 125 cases.
Some of you are doing the math; five acres should produce a whole lot more than 125 cases, shouldn’t it? Normally it would except that Hughes is one of those persnickety, finicky winery owners who will only put his name of the best quality product he can. That means only using grapes from one small lot, maybe an acre’s worth, of his five acres of grapes. The rest of it — quality fruit, I’m sure — gets sold off every year to waiting buyers, anxious to acquire premium Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
Using a 100% new French oak, Loyal Hughes likes sharing his wine even though he doesn’t make very much. He is also deeply philosophical about his wine, believing in consistency and making a wine that is exceptionally food-friendly. With no plans to expand production quantities, this will be a wine you will have to hunt for — fortunately, he shared with me the three stores that are currently carrying Hughes Howell Mountain Cabernet; Dean & Deluca in the Napa valley, Wine Country in Southern California, and 34 North Wine Merchant in Healdsburg. No website and no intention to ever have one, Hughes sells a bit off a mailing list and that’s about it…
2000 Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon – Spicy core of uber-rich, dark fruit; black cassis, black currant, and black plum. Rich and developed, the tannins are soft and easy without the tell-tale bite of a young Cab. Some rich earthy qualities in the mid-palate with a long, silky finish. $55.00
Hughes ~ 165 Olive Avenue ~ Angwin ~ CA ~ 94508 ~ 707-965-1907