With 42 Howell Mountain wineries pouring their wines and perfect weather for an outdoor event, the 18th annual Howell Mountain Cup set sail on Saturday at Charles Krug Winery, with 300 people in attendance. More than $110,000 was raised for local education.

“We were sold out earlier than in any other year,” said Sam Peters, executive director of the Howell Mountain Vintners and Growers Association. “We raised over $110,000, which exceeded last year’s amount and all the profits will go to the Howell Mountain Education Foundation. They will distribute the money to educational programs in the area.”

Local vintners from the Howell Mountain AVA started the event 18 years ago. “They saw the necessity to benefit local education and in the recent years it has become even more important to have the event due to the education budget cuts,” said Peters. “Things that I took for granted growing up, such as art, music and P.E., are being cut. Those fields are important components of a well rounded education.”

Wendy Battistini, a former boardmember at Howell Mountain Elementary School, has been part of the event for the past 10 years. “My son Tucker is in fifth grade and all three of my kids went to the school. The Howell Mountain Vintners Association is very generous. It’s a huge fundraiser for our school and it really helps,” she said. “We get more and more support from local parents each year. It’s a great event, it’s casual and fun and many of the guests come again over the years.”

David Lauer and Ron Neldberg of St. Helena were first-timers at the event. The two recently moved from Yountville to St. Helena and learned of the event from banners around town.

“The drive for me to come here today is that this is for a good cause and it is amazing for me to see this many wineries in one place,” said Lauer. Neldberg added that the event has an added value for them. “Since we have recently moved to St. Helena we saw it as an opportunity to get to know the area better,” said Neldberg.

The event provided an opportunity to taste wines from 42 Howell Mountain wineries. “Some of the wineries that were presented in the area produce only 300 to 500 cases a year and so the opportunity to taste and to purchase their wines through the auction was rare,” said Peters. “The growth of the vines in our area starts later and grapes will grow slowly in a longer process. Our motto is ‘above the fog’ because we have such a high elevation as all the wineries are over 1,400 feet. The high elevation and the mixture of volcanic and red clay soils produce small concentrated grapes, which produce big, bold nuanced wine that are a pure luxury to drink.”

Jon Meola, member services coordinator for Atlas Peak Winery, said, “I loved all the wines that participated at the event today. Each of them was a little different and it was interesting to see all the different vintages that were being poured. Howell Mountain wines have a distinguished flavor. They have their own spice and aromatics. I will easily be able to recognize Howell Mountain cabernet at any tasting.” Atlas Peak Winery participated in the Howell Mountain Cup for the first time on Saturday.

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