Home Industry News Releases Ink Grade Launches as Homage to History of Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain

Ink Grade Launches as Homage to History of Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain


Led by Winemaker Matt Taylor, Ink Grade Celebrates the Connection Between Winemaking and Nature

Napa Valley, CA (October 5, 2021) – Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy, Jr. and the Lawrence family are thrilled to announce the launch of Ink Grade, a collection of authentically nurtured, elegant wines and the partners’ second new wine brand this year.  Launching direct-to-guest beginning in early October, Ink Grade will also be represented with limited distribution by its sales and marketing partner, Demeine Estates.

Inspired by the utmost respect for nature, Ink Grade’s wines pay homage to Theron Ink, a Napa Valley pioneer who established a ranch on the remote eastern side of Howell Mountain in 1875. The seclusion and wildness of the Howell Mountain landscape became a place of retreat and respite for the Ink family. The vineyard spoke to Theron — bound in layers of volcanic soil, latent and patiently waiting to be discovered, there was a terroir capable of producing concentrated, distinct wines.

Today, the Ink Grade Estate Vineyard lies in the north-east corner of the Howell Mountain AVA in Napa Valley. At an elevation of about 1,500 feet, the estate vineyards boast scenic views of forested pines and sequoia while rendering pure, intense fruit. Vines are planted on narrow terraces of earth cut into steep slopes at elevations above 1,500 feet, which fosters a distinguishing microclimate in the Napa Valley. The 800-acre property spans the Howell Mountain AVA with 200 acres under vine. Ink Grade seeks to honor and innovate the classic winemaking style of Napa Valley, allowing the fruit to flourish through manual, organic farming, extended élevage, and low-intervention practices that ensure maximum expression of place.

“Ink Grade is important for upholding the heritage of the region and the excitement of discovering beautiful vineyard locations, hidden like gems within this Valley. These wines showcase the direct relationship between the volcanic soil of Howell Mountain and the purity of the fruit it produces,” says Carlton McCoy. “A true artifact of a place, Ink Grade is truly a grand cru of Howell Mountain.”

With a heritage winemaking philosophy, the Ink Grade brand is grounded in nurturing and naturally farming the vineyards to vinify restrained, classically structured wines. The duality of wild, rugged terrain and expressive, balanced wines is apparent in this distinct range, which includes Ink Grade’s 2017 Andosol, 2017 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2019 Sauvignon Blanc.

The new wine range is helmed by Matt Taylor, who joined Lawrence Wine Estates as a winemaker in March 2020. Born and raised in Sonoma County, Taylor was influenced by mentors in the wine industry, cultivating his passion for farming and winemaking. Prior to joining Ink Grade, Taylor began his own project, Matt Taylor Wines, focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the West Sonoma Coast. He has honed his winemaking philosophy from California to Burgundy, holding positions at Araujo Eisele and Joseph Swan along with Domaine Dujac. With years of experience in the industry and winemaking, Matt Taylor brings his passion for biodynamic and natural farming practices to Ink Grade.

“Ink Grade is about relying on natural, historic techniques to farm elegant and balanced wines and show the purity of mountain fruit,” says Winemaker Matt Taylor. “I am thrilled to be able to work with this truly unique vineyard and create biodynamic wines that honor this place and its history.”

Please see below for more details on this premium portfolio.


A wine meant to be enjoyed in its youth, Andosol draws inspiration from the historic field blends of California with Zinfandel as the protagonist. This Howell Mountain Zinfandel captivates and satiates with each sip, bringing a new perspective to Andosol.


Inspired by the history lying within Howell Mountain, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon gleams from the wines and lessons of the past. INK GRADE’s Howell Mountain Cabernet is a bright, yet concentrated red that combines freshness and complexity.


A bright white, this Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc embodies tropical components including passionfruit, honeydew, and grapefruit. Farmed from the volcanic soil of INK GRADE’s Howell Mountain, this wine features an herbal and mineral palate that is unmatched in quality and taste.


Ink Grade is a Napa Valley estate creating single-vineyard wines of remarkable intensity and grace. Rooted firmly in the east side of Howell Mountain and the product of a distinct microclimate and rugged terrain, Ink Grade and Winemaker Matt Taylor seek to honor the heritage of this vineyard and the purity of mountain fruit. The inaugural range, launching in October 2021, includes the Andosol Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc. For more information, please visit inkgrade.com or follow on Instagram @inkgradeestate.

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