Fulfills the Mountain Winery’s Vision

To truly know Newton Vineyard and its wines, one must understand its history, its prominence within the Napa winery community, and its resilience. Founded in 1977 by English businessman Peter Newton, the Spring Mountain winery, long lauded for its complex varietals, was significantly damaged by the 2020 Glass Fire. But thanks to the teamwork of its small winemaking crew, led by winemaker Andrew Holve, the Newton label is not only enduring, it is thriving.

At the Newton helm since July 2021, Holve, a Sonoma County native, joined the winery in August 2015, shortly after earning his master’s degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis. His path to winemaking entailed a post-undergrad (USC) position with Americorps, where he worked on a wide range of projects, from building homes with Habitat for Humanity to riparian restoration with the Bureau of Land Management. “That is when I discovered that I enjoyed working with my hands, being outdoors, and creating things,” said Holve. “And my thoughts returned to friends in Sonoma County whose families were in the wine business, who had often encouraged me to join them. I grew up around wine, but I hadn’t realized until then how strong an affinity I had for the work itself.”

As Newton’s lead winemaker since July 2021, Holve oversees a solid winemaking team of five, some of whom have been with the winery for 30 years. “Our team has great longevity, and we know our in-house style and what we are trying to produce,” said Holve, who credits predecessors Rob Mann and Alberto Bianchi as his mentors.

Newton’s ‘in-house style’ entails a profile for which Peter Newton originally left the valley floor as the owner of Sterling Vineyards to found Newton. He believed that the steep mountain hillsides with well-drained, rich rock volcanic soils would deliver a distinctive, truthful terroir expression. And he was right. He established his new winery in the bucolic Spring Mountain appellation on the northwestern side of the valley, cradled in a bowl on the ridgeline of the Mayacamas mountain range where the vines grow at varied elevations and with differences in exposure and wind patterns. His resulting wines embraced contrast while delivering a classic freshness, precision, and supple ripeness offered by the mountain terrain and Napa’s Mediterranean climate.

Today, Holve honors Newton’s original vision by continuing to champion mountain vineyards, as well as their estate in Carneros, from which grapes for the winery’s iconic Chardonnays are sourced. Yet, he is ready to inject a bit of his own style. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to achieve, what my personal influence and direction will be with Newton going forward,” said Holve, whose favorite Newton varietal is the hallmark ‘The Puzzle.’Created three decades ago as a Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes sourced from a Spring Mountain plot resembling a puzzle piece, The Puzzle has evolved into a delectable Bordeaux Blend of grapes from several Newton sites. The 2018 The Puzzle is a blend of varieties sourced exclusively from 43 individual parcels – 33 from Spring Mountain, five from Yountville, and five from Mount Veeder. Deep ruby in color with a purple hue, its notes of black fruit, bay leaf, and sage mingle with iodine and oyster shell characteristics to create a complex and pleasant bouquet. “The Puzzle is rooted in this Spring Mountain Estate, but we are now incorporating Mt. Veeder grapes and fully capturing what the Mayacamas Mountain Range can give us,” said Holve. “Getting to play with different vineyards to come up with a blend that is my own interpretation of the property and being able to capture the particular vintage expression and season is why I get out of bed in the morning. The Puzzle allows me to fully express our unique mountain top vineyards and share this sense of place. To be able to create this incredible wine with my unique interpretation is very rewarding to me.”

“Ultimately, the environment shapes all of our wines, and I nurture and allow them time to make a wine that spotlights and stands true to the Napa Valley. It’s been pretty special being at Newton because there are not many wineries that have vineyards from elevations of 1800 feet,
with all of these different exposures and aspects. I’m excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the history of one of Napa Valley’s most historic and highly acclaimed wineries.”

Holve is proud that Newton recently received the CCOF Organic Certification for all three of their estate vineyards, a rigorous three-year administrative process led by viticulturist Laura Deyermond. “Minimizing our impact on the land and working with nature has always been part of our DNA and ethos,” said Holve. With a ‘nature by design’ philosophy, Newton embraces rather than seeks to alter the complexities of its land and climate. The steep vineyard blocks have always dictated that farming be done by hand, resulting in artisanal quality that is inherent in every wine, celebrating the high standards to which Newton has always remained committed.

While Newton’s Spring Mountain facility is rebuilt and the vineyards replanted, the team partners with St. Helena’s Brasswood for winemaking facilities and wine tasting venues. “After what we’ve gone through the last year and a half, the spirit of this Newton team is inspiring,” said Holve. “Our dedication and resolve are unflagging; the future is bright.”

Story by: Fran Miller