Cain is inspired by a place and a vision. The Place: the unmistakable Cain Vineyard, hidden in its own Shangri-La cradled at the top of the Spring Mountain District. The Vision: a quest for Balance through blending the Cabernet family of varieties.

The Cain Vineyard is one of the coldest places on Spring Mountain, yet Cain is among the first to pick. The soils are poor and the yields are low. We have learned to love the perfumed, floral, green forest, herbal and earthy bouquet of the Cain Five along with its firm, but super-refined tannins.   This experience has informed our understanding of ripeness, which can be found in all three wines, Cain Five, Cain Concept and Cain Cuvée. In every case, we seek to capture the energy of the fruit before it fades. This is one of the secrets of wines that can age.

In a mountain vineyard, it is easy to make a big wine. The challenge is to make a balanced wine. The vision of the Cain Five is to seek balance through blending of the classic association of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot with a base of Cabernet Sauvignon. After 30 vintages, we understand that this is not a formula, but a method that weaves a tapestry of the vines from which we draw. We seek not to obscure, but rather to honor the signature of each vineyard with which we work. Moreover, we have learned to appreciate the potential of blending to develop complexity, harmony, finish, and above all, Balance.

Beyond all of this, at Cain, we have learned that Wine can transcend Fruit. In some sense, Fermentation is Magic. Wine begins with grapes, but it need not stop there. Through all of the transformations, both intracellular, by yeast, by bacteria, from before the primary fermentation, through the secondary fermentation and beyond into the fermentations and transformations of elevage, wine can truly be a living substance, far more compelling, more satisfying, and more memorable than any fruit juice.



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Cain chris howell


Christopher Howell


Christopher Howell has dedicated more than twenty-five years to Cain Vineyard & Winery. His commitment to Cain stems from a realization that one can only learn from one vintage to the next, and that depth of knowledge of a single vineyard takes years to acquire. His focus is on fine winegrowing—following the process from vineyard into the winery and finally into the glass. There are just two essential prerequisites for doing this—knowing wine and loving wine. In both of these, he remains a perpetual student.

Chris came to Cain as a winemaking consultant in 1990, after having spent time at a number of wineries, including Peter Michael Winery and Mouton Rothschild. He became winemaker and general manager in 1991, and credits owners Jim and Nancy Meadlock for their patience and support over the years, and for providing him with the amazing potential and the spectacular location that is Cain Vineyard & Winery.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Chris studied “Ideas and Methods” at the University of Chicago followed by chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. After experimenting with home winemaking, in 1982 and at the age of 30, he dedicated himself to the profession and enrolled in the School of Agronomy in Montpellier, France.


At the Quail Napa Gala VI, Chris will be presenting the newly released 2013 Cain Five and Cain Cuvee NV13.  In addition, a selection of large formats will also be available including the 2007 Cain Concept – The Benchland which will be tasted from Magnum.