Wine Of The Week: Lokoya’s Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons

These fantastic Napa Cabs have become coveted by wine collectors.

Chris Carpenter’s location-driven Napa gems. Credit: Lokoya

When the Napa Valley comes to mind, you might imagine miles of flat vineyards that dot the floor of the valley, broken up only by fancy tasting rooms owned by the likes of Robert Mondavi and Mumm. But winemaker Chris Carpenter, who oversees a portfolio of fine Napa wines, including La Jota and Mt. Brave, isn’t as interested in the acres off Napa’s main drag. Instead, he looks upward.

Carpenter currently works from 400 acres of vineyards dotting the mountaintops and craggy landscapes that ascend up from the valley floor. Why? Mornings envelop the vineyards in fog and the intense light lingers late into the days. The land is steep—it’s a headache to get a tractor up to that elevation. Vines struggle a little more here, but it makes them hardier and resilient. That’s proven in the bottle: these wines are painstakingly formed to thrive over decades. Because of this Lokoya wines have become collector’s darlings over the years—these wines are wildly ageable.

Each of the four wines of Lokoya explore a different Napa mountains. Mount Veeder—which boasts rich volcanic soil—has powerful, grippy tannins and plush blue fruit. Howell Mountain, at the northwestern tip of the valley, soars to 2,500 feet. The vineyard sits well above the fog line, so the Cab is cool and fresh. Spring Mountain is also sky-high (between 1,000 and 2,100 feet) but the vineyard gets lots of afternoon sun, resulting in floral wines possessing notes of rose petal. Diamond Mountain peeks over the town of Calistoga, and tends to usher in wines with hints of deep chocolate. All four Lokoya bottles are made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, but all are expressive in their own ways—that’s the vineyard talking. If budget allows, pick up one of each and compare for yourself. $550

Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained sommelier and spirits writer. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Eater,, and Food & Wine, and she pours wine at one of Canada’s top restaurants.