Much of Howell Mountain lies 'above the fog' and at 1800 feet Howell Mountain Vineyards is no exception.  Howell Mountain’s unique soil and microclimate place it in a category of its own, apart from the valley floor.  The altitude keeps it two degrees cooler than valley floor, and exposes the vines to sunlight earlier in the day.  The vineyard’s southwestern exposure keeps the vines basking in sunlight throughout the afternoon.  A steady breeze combined with abundant sunshine at such high elevations above the fog prevents mildew from plaguing the grapes.  The soil is Aiken Loam, a non-fertile, volcanic, red mountain clay.  The lack of nutrients forces the vines to struggle to produce smaller grapes at lower yields.  Small particles in the clay hold water well, enabling the practice of dry-farming methods.  Small grape clusters equals a higher skin to juice ratio.  This deepens the color of the wine and increases tannins, creating the intensity that describes the classic Howell Mountain Cabernet or Zinfandel.