Named for its location between Oakville and the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley, Silver Oak operates two wineries: one in Oakville and the other at Healdsburg in the Alexander Valley. I recently visited Oakville, the first winery to earn the U.S. Green Building Councils Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Anchored by their iconic water tower, Oakville California is the home of Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the original site of Silver Oak Cellars.
Ray Duncan, co-founder, purchased Franciscan Vineyards and approached Justin Meyer to ask him to plant and manage his vineyards and winery. Silver Oak Cellars was established in 1972 and is currently operated by Ray’s sons David Duncan (President and CEO) and Tim Duncan (Executive Vice President). Justin Meyer sold his shares in 2001 to Ray Duncan. The Duncan family also established Twomey Cellars in 1999 with wineries in Calistoga and Healdsburg.
Fire and Water
On New Years Day 2006, the Oakville winery experienced a flood from the Napa River and then, was devastated by fire in the following month, which destroyed the original dairy barn. The site of Silver Oak was a dairy farm at the time of purchase. The Duncan family spearheaded a rebuild completed in 2008 that included the installation of 1,464 solar panels to generate solar power for the facility. Two stained glass windows from the original winery created by artist Diane Peterson were salvaged and she was asked to create two more; four in total, to represent the four seasons.
Tree lined roads lead to the limestone exterior barn with its chipped face reclaimed from a flour mill in Coffeyville, Kansas from the 1800s. Visitors are greeted at the entrance to the tasting room by a water tower.
Silver Oak and its Cabernet were cited in ‘Colorado Biz’ as having reached “cult status” and a visit to the vineyard proved the popularity, as this vineyard was buzzing with visitors.
This was the most crowded tasting that I have participated in while visiting Napa. I do not mean that as a negative, it is just that there is a lot going on at Silver Oak at one time.
The Glass House Library displays vintages from the 1970s. Books, bags, jewelry from local designers and, of course, Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon is displayed proudly at every turn. For me, it felt more like being in a museum than being on a vineyard.
Tasting occurred at a grand bar, where visitors stood in line and then were assigned a host. It was far less personal than my other experiences in Napa Valley.
Tasting included the 2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is ready to drink and can be enjoyed through to 2038. This is a 97.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.3% Merlot, 0.5% Petit Verdot, 0.3% Malbec and 0.2% Cabernet Franc released in August 2018. The scent of nutmeg was delightful.
The 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was released in February 2019: 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.6% Merlot, 6.7% Cabernet Franc, 2.1% Petit Verdot and 1.6% Malbec. Given proper storage, it may be enjoyed until 2040. The black current scent was mesmerizing.
While the tasting was superb, the process and goings-on at Silver Oak was of greater interest to me. Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon is aged for about 25 months in American Oak barrels and are then stored another 14 months in the bottle before release.
The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is aged only in new American oak barrels and then 20 months in bottle. The rationale for using only American oak is that it gives less tannin than French Oak. As a result, Silver Oak partnered with A&K Cooperage in 2000, to have a supply of American oak barrels made to Silver Oaks specifications, thereby having full control of its barrel production.
Also interesting, is the presence of Winery Chef, Dominic Orsini since 2008, tasked with creating a style of cooking that embraces the wine, and wine country. He uses vine cuttings to smoke meats. Almost all of the produce he uses is grown in Silver Oak’s organic gardens. The starter he uses for breads and pizza dough was created from 20-year old Cabernet vines on the property. Over 100 wine pairing recipes are available for aspiring chefs in the Silver Oak Cookbook.
The Last Sip
A great deal more than wine tasting is taking place at Silver Oak, making for a visit with a great deal of action. My recommendation is to designate one full afternoon to really explore the vineyard, because between the environmental practices, the chef, the renovation and the brand story, there is quite a lot to discover beyond the wine.
Should you find yourself seeking a first hand experience, visit: www.silveroak.com.
Here you can also find information about new releases and purchase your desired Cabernet Sauvignon to bring the experience into your home.
San Francisco Giants
Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars entered into a partnership with the San Francisco Giants in 2017, as the official wine partner. The Giants re-branded its Luxury Suite with Silver Oak/Twomey, offer a Silver Oak Memorabilia Case, participate in sampling events with Silver Oak wine and provide in-stadium branding.
When Orlando Cepeda was inducted into the Hall Of Fame, he brought his own bottle of Silver Oak to toast with; when the Giants commemorated Bruce Bochy’s 800th win as manager, they commissioned a double magnum of 2012 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet.
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Writer with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. Her credits include Sales and Marketing for with PRADA USA Corp., followed by a jump in to the world of beauty as an Esthetician followed by Spa Manager at Jurlique, Spa Manager and Client Relationship Manager and Digital Business Development coordinator position at Amore Pacific where celebrity clients were and remain confidential and her column, “Ask Angela,” was featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. She has also been a contributor for Beauty to Shape and Fitness Magazines.
A side job as a Hospital Victim on “As the World Turns,” and a correspondent on the now defunct lifestyle web series “Tangerine Living,” Angela is no stranger to juggling multiple positions and has built quite the resume. A move to The New York Daily News as Training and Employee Relations Manager with a night and weekend gig as make up artist for runway shows, (she studies in Los Angeles with Amy Ward) including Vogue Bambino and multiple commercials, Angela became a Mom, her best and most important credit to date.
Since Motherhood, Angela has been a Brand Ambassador for the skin line Patchology, featured in Saks Fifth Avenue in store and on air with CBS News segment “Patch me Pretty.” She has been a beauty guest for QVC, and the founder of her own social media communications business, helping business owners to share their digital voice. Actively involved with Smart Children with Learning Differences, her most favorite down time hobby is discovering the best in beauty, travel and fashion around the United States.
Angela is a graduate of Syracuse University with a BS in Communications and Writing, where she appeared on the University Union News as an Anchor and on The Beat of Syracuse, Z89 as a DJ. Angela has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Working with AlphaLuxe is a unique opportunity, “to share what I am most passionate about. Living your best life. In her spare time, you can find Angela running, practicing yoga, taking her son to one of his sports practices. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband, son, and chihuahuas.