Our Story

New Release - 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


THE MOMENTS THAT MAKE US

Friends with a Bold Vision

The Early Years

Friends with a bold vision

Silver Oak was founded by Ray Duncan in partnership with friend and winemaker Justin Meyer in 1972. Together, they made the unconventional choice to focus exclusively on Cabernet Sauvignon, producing complex, delicious wines that were drinkable upon release and could be cellared for years to come.

Silver Oak has always been owned by the Duncan family

The Early Years

Silver Oak has always been owned by the Duncan family

Today, Ray’s sons, David and Tim, manage Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars and continue the 40-year tradition of producing excellent, handcrafted wines. Pictured: Mike, Kevin, Ray, David and Tim Duncan.

The iconic water tower

The Early Years

The iconic water tower

A prominent agricultural landmark throughout Napa Valley, the water tower is featured on our Silver Oak label and has come to symbolize the legacy of Silver Oak. For the 1972 vintage, Ray and Justin commissioned a local artist to design a label with the tower set against a vineyard and a sprawling oak tree – and it has graced every bottle of Silver Oak ever produced.

All about the experience

From Cult to Classic

All about the experience

Our mission in making Cabernets is disarmingly simple: to make delicious wines that people love. Whether you’re just beginning to explore wine or have a well-developed palate, the first question to ask is, “Does it taste good?” While wine reviews can help put words to the wine drinking experience, the best judge of a wine’s character and complexity is the person drinking it. This approach has served us well and Silver Oak wines have developed a fantastic following. Hear what our loyal fans have to say about our wines and chime in with your own opinion.

A New Winemaker

From Cult to Classic

A new winemaker:

In 1994, Daniel Baron was hired as Justin Meyer’s successor and worked by his side until he retired in 2001. At that time, Justin sold his share of Silver Oak to the Duncan family. Today, Daniel leads our winemaking teams for both Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars.

The 2006 fire

A New Beginning

The 2006 fire

A fire swept through our Napa Valley winery on February 2, 2006. “I didn’t know what ‘burned to the ground’ really meant until I saw the dairy barn reduced to ashes in front of me,” explains David Duncan. “A brave team of firefighters was able to save much of the winery, which filled our family with optimism. We’ve never spent much time on setbacks, so we turned our attention to the future – and an ambitious rebuild.”

Oakville Tasting Room in Napa Valley

A New Beginning

Oakville Tasting Room exterior

A view of the Oakville Tasting Room in Napa Valley.

Chef Dominic Orsini

A NEW BEGINNING

Introducing Chef Dominic Orsini

Our Cabernets have always been ideal for enjoying with food, so it was only natural that we hire a winery chef. Dominic Orsini joined the Silver Oak family in 2008, filling our newly built, state-of-the-art kitchen with flavorful dishes. He immediately set about planting herb and vegetable gardens, curing his own meats and even making his own cheeses. The handcrafted quality of Silver Oak wines is reflected in Chef Dominic’s appreciation of fresh, homegrown ingredients and wine country fare.

Selecting the fruit

WINEMAKING

Selecting the fruit

While we source excellent fruit from our own vineyards across the Napa and Alexander Valleys (including Soda Canyon Ranch, pictured here), we maintain long-term relationships with top growers to ensure we have a range of high-caliber fruit from a wide geographic region. Having options allows us to blend only the best fruit and achieve just the right balance in our Cabernet Sauvignons.

Making the wine

WINEMAKING

Making the wine

Once grapes have been harvested and fermented, Winemaker Daniel Baron carefully selects only those that complement one another and enhance the final blend. By blending prior to barrel aging, we achieve a balance of the wine’s natural elements before they are influenced by oak. The blend is then extensively aged in American oak barrels, whose character complements our expressive, delicious wines.

Bottle aging

Winemaking

Bottle aging – an exercise in patience

By aging our wine in the bottle prior to release, we’re able to achieve a full-bodied flavor with moderate alcohol. Ultimately, our approach creates Cabernet Sauvignons that are deliciously drinkable upon release, and perfect for pairing with food.

A partnership with AK Cooperage

WINEMAKING

A partnership with A&K Cooperage

We’re serious about our barrels. The use of American oak has been the hallmark of our distinctive wines since our first vintage in 1972. By partnering with A&K Cooperage in 2000, we were able to secure a steady supply of barrels flavored to our specifications – a true labor of love. Once an oak tree has reached maturity (about 80 years old), the wood must be harvested, aged outside in the elements in Missouri (about two years), handcrafted into barrels and toasted to achieve just the right characteristics.

Details, details

Winemaking

Details, details

When it comes to producing excellent wine, even the cork cannot escape our scrutiny. We are known for having one of the strictest sets of cork quality control procedures in the wine industry. Our certified “cork sniffers” blind test hundreds of 750 mL corks before we place an order. In an effort to apply the same rigor to our big bottle corks, Associate Winemaker Christiane Schleussner and a team of researchers from Cork Supply USA pioneered the use of the “dry soak” method for the first time in the US. This specialized method of testing was so successful that Christiane and her colleagues published a paper about it in the well-respected Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry.

Respecting the land

WINEMAKING

Respecting the land

By nurturing our vineyards through a variety of earth-friendly farming practices, we not only preserve our land, we produce higher quality grapes and wines. Our team uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to regulate insect populations without the use of pesticides, and soil moisture sensors to regulate our water use. Inside the winery, 1,464 solar panels provide almost all of our Oakville winery’s daily energy needs. Huge skylights in our fermentation barn minimize the need for artificial light and create a bright working area for our winemaking team.

The Duncan Family looks toward the Future

WINEMAKING

The Duncan family looks toward the future

David says, “We are stewards of Silver Oak and plan to carry out the traditions of the generation before us. We are always trying to improve quality and build on our 40 years of experience. Like Ray and Justin have always said, ‘we have yet to make our best bottle of wine.’”

Our Story

Our Beginning

When Raymond T. Duncan first visited the Napa Valley in the late 1960s, he was taken by the region’s rugged beauty. He was also wise enough to understand the potential of the fledgling wine industry. In the 1970's, he began to buy land in both Napa and Alexander Valleys with the goal of planting vineyards. But with his home and business in Colorado and no viticulture expertise of his own, Ray approached Justin Meyer, whom he’d met through mutual friends, and asked him to plant and manage the vineyards. Then working at Christian Brothers, Justin agreed with one condition: in addition to managing the vineyards, he wanted to create a winery that would forever raise the standards of California wine. The year was 1972, and Silver Oak Cellars began.

Ray and Justin had a bold and unconventional vision for their winery. Rather than producing six or seven varietals, they would devote all their resources to producing a single wine – Cabernet Sauvignon. What’s more, their wine would be a new style of Cabernet Sauvignon, rich and complex, deliciously drinkable from the day it was released, yet worthy of cellaring for years to come. To achieve this end, they committed to an extensive aging program of approximately 25 months in American oak barrels, and 15–20 months of cellaring in bottle.

Two Estates

In 1972, Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley vineyards produced the harvest that would become the winery’s first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon. That same year, Ray purchased an old dairy farm in Oakville, and he and Justin began planting Silver Oak’s first Napa Valley vineyard. Seven years later, they harvested the grapes for their first Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Since that time, Silver Oak has produced two wines each vintage, a Napa Valley and an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Eventually, true to their original vision, Ray and Justin built two wineries, each devoted to producing just one wine. In 1981, on the site of the old dairy farm in Oakville, they broke ground on their Napa Valley winery, and in 1992 they purchased and renovated the beautiful Tudor-style estate in Geyserville that is home to the Alexander Valley Cabernet.

Several Vineyards – Two Wines

Over time, Silver Oak continued to acquire vineyard land, including the Red Tail and Miraval Vineyards in Alexander Valley and the Soda Canyon Ranch and Jump Rock in Napa Valley. The winery also developed close relationships with longtime growers in both appellations. The result is that both the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon are blends, made from grapes grown in both wineries’ estate vineyards as well as growers’ vineyards in both regions. The two wines have always been separate and distinct, consistently representing the very best of their respective appellations.

Passing the Torch

After selecting Daniel Baron to succeed him as winemaker in 1994, Justin sold his share of Silver Oak to the Duncan family in 2001. The family continues to carry Ray and Justin’s vision forward, with Ray’s son Tim serving as Executive Vice President managing sales and marketing strategy, and his son David serving as the winery’s President and CEO, overseeing production and operations. In 2006, when a fire devastated Bonny’s Chai, which had been the physical and emotional anchor of the Oakville property, the Duncan family took the opportunity to start fresh, this time using their 35 years of experience to build the ideal winery for producing Silver Oak’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The new winery was open for harvest in 2008. More than anything, it is a symbol of the tradition of excellence and continuous improvement established by Silver Oak’s founders many years ago.

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