CONSTANT Diamond Mountain Vineyard sits in a phenomenal location all the way at the top of Diamond Mountain road; the Napa/Sonoma county line runs through the upper part of this property. A visit here is by appointment only and is for the very serious wine enthusiasts and collectors who know their wine and love hillside produced wines.
You will call from the bottom of the road to let the winery know that you are heading up “the hill” so that your host can meet you at the gate at the end of the road. Typically allow 15 minutes to drive up this very narrow winding road. Fred Constant (now deceased) did wonders to the property. He was an alum of Princeton University and in his former career developed and owned a number of radio stations. This is a historic property dating back to the 1890’s. This mountain winery estate and location is definitely in our top 3 list of Napa wineries with “incredible views”, stunning architecture and you can also include it in the top list of most romantic Napa area wineries.
After driving the narrow harrowing windy road to the top you are ready to have someone else drive and that is your host in the huge Pinzgauer 4wd military green vehicle. A driving tour is conducted throughout the property with several stops. You first visit the vineyards (including driving down actual rows of vines), stop at the beautifully renovated guesthouse (the Monte Vista – which is available for rent and includes a number of historical items), then to the small long winery (note the bocce ball court perched perfectly on top!) and finally at the tasting room located above the main vineyards.
You might even get to see what the Pinzguaer is capable of as there are several very steep sections that this vehicle handles amazingly well. The vineyards are at an elevation of up to 2100 feet and as a result often sees some snow each year. This is prime hillside terroir and one of Napa’s best Cabernet Producers, Diamond Creek is located just down the mountain from Constant’s vineyards.
There are several pools on site and the views from these locations without a doubt provide the best vistas of Mt. St. Helena of any Napa winery. Mt. St. Helena is by far the tallest mountain surrounding the Napa Valley and from the property you can see from its base to the top. In addition there are absolutely beautiful views and reflections of the northern Napa Valley, especially on a clear summer’s day when its warm on this mountainside but the rest of the valley is covered in the purest white layers of fog (as it was when we first visited).
Due to the differences in elevation and microclimates when there is fog in the summer, the temperature in the valley tends to be significantly lower than where you stand on the hillside. It is also interesting to note that typically later in the summer into the fall season there are times when an inversion layer comes in and it will remain significantly warmer at these elevations than the valley floor – even at night. Due to their elevation the vineyards are typically above the fog and as a result, receive a lot of sun which allows the fruit to really ripen to perfection as well as creating an intense flavor.
After your driving tour you will park inside what feels like a fort, the small gravel parking lot is entirely surrounded by quarried stone walls. Their “front entrance” is one of the more unique entrances in the valley; you will walk through an aging cellar that contains barrels for one of their vintages. The simple yet sophisticated tasting opens to the outdoors via large sliding glass doors. The fine architecture on site is a neat “blur” between the indoors and outdoors and is really appropriate for the setting.
The Constant’s moved here in the early 1990’s and initially started selling fruit to other premium producers (while the property and brand is no longer owned by the Constant’s, fruit from the vineyard is still sold to several premium area wineries). After Fred made some wine during the first few years they realized they had something special. Philippe Melka was their consulting winemaker for a number of years and today the well-regarded Paul Hobbs is their winemaker.
40 acres of vineyards are planted on site forming a gorgeous backdrop against the views in all directions as well as the natural forest. Most of their vineyards are on the Napa side with the exception of their Syrah vineyard which lies on the Sonoma County side. Today they focus on small quantities of four wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet Franc, a Merlot and a delicious Syrah. Their vineyards are carefully managed on a block by block basis. Initially they produced wine at a custom crush facility down in the valley but it soon made more sense to build their own winery on site, (you will see why after driving this road), as well as having their own winery allowed them to control the entire vineyard to bottle process.
There are not a lot of Napa wineries making a high end varietal of Cabernet Franc and this is one of the reasons you want to come here. We have tried several vintages including the 2004 and 2006. There is a consistency built into these wines; the 2006 exhibits a very elegant bouquet with a unique dustiness that carries over to the palate. It is delicate and elegant on the palate with perfectly balanced tannins. Note that this wine is usually only produced in quantities of under several hundred cases so it is extremely limited.
A real standout is their 2006 Syrah which is one of the finer Syrah’s we have tasted on this project. It shows a lot of fruit both on the bouquet and palate. It has a juicy rather soft entry with rich concentrated flavors spread across the palate anchored by a clean smooth finish. This wine is all about the fruit and the varietal rather than being overly spicy or dominated by oak as some Syrahs tend to be. Their terroir is represented in their wine and this “earthiness” also shows in their Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2005, with the right balance, just the right amount of tartness and good acidity is an ideal wine to pair with a variety of foods. This is a wine that is also built to age and can be cellared for a number of years. For more information and to join their mailing list, visit: www.constantwine.com
Overview, from the Wine Insiders:
Contrary to what Fred says in the video above, this is not the highest nor is it the oldest vineyard in the Napa Valley.