Where Our Grapes Come From
Both our Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignons are created using grapes from our own vineyards , as well as grapes grown by a small group of carefully selected independent growers with whom we have long-term relationships.
Soda Canyon Ranch Vineyard
A visit to our Soda Canyon Ranch is one of those “aha!” moments. You pull off Soda Canyon Road, head down a narrow lane, and suddenly the vista opens up and you’re looking at a breathtaking “valley within a valley,” with undulating slopes, steep inclines and hillsides as far as the eye can see. Even locals say, “I can’t believe this is here.”
We purchased Soda Canyon Ranch in 1999, and since then it has become one of our premier Napa Valley vineyards, featuring the five Bordeaux varietals that create the layered flavors and complexity of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Situated on the first bench off the Napa Valley floor, the climate is warm and dry, yet profoundly influenced by the moderating effect of the cooling San Pablo Bay. The hilly terrain has closely spaced vine rows with various sun exposures. The volcanic soils feature large rocks mixed with gravel – ideal for the heat-loving red Bordeaux varieties we’ve planted here.
Jump Rock Vineyard
The fruit from our Jump Rock Vineyard is as dramatic as the vineyard itself, bringing intense aromatics of blackberries and cassis, as well as richness and structure to our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Accessible only by a dirt road and sitting at an elevation of 1,500 feet in the Atlas Peak AVA, the vineyard is named for the Duncans’ favorite swimming hole near their childhood home in Colorado.
Although Jump Rock is 40 acres, only 18 are planted - no wonder, since the rugged, arid terrain features red, rocky outcroppings that can barely be classified as soil. Smaller rocks taken out when the vineyard was planted are pushed into three-foot piles at the edges, but the pickup-truck-size rocks under the loose, rusty-red soil are there to stay. This rocky soil, coupled with the high-desert climate of Jump Rock, produces Cabernet Sauvignon of singular concentration, year after year.
Located in St. Helena in a region Daniel Baron calls the St. Helena Plains, this land has been in the Navone family since 1915. For nearly 100 years, this well-drained Cortina gravelly loam soil has been planted with vineyards. Our late friend Ernie Navone, who was born on the property, planted the land with Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, we farm this vineyard for the family. The continuous use of the land has tamed vine vigor over the years. As a result, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from this vineyard balance complexity and elegance and fit beautifully into our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Red Tail Vineyard
Fruit from our Red Tail Vineyard has been a favorite of the Silver Oak winemaking staff for many years, valued for the acidity, brightness, and strawberry-and-spice character it brings to our Alexander Valley Cabernet blend. Named for the red-tailed hawks that can often be seen circling over the property, we purchased this vineyard in 1988 and replanted it with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in three sections in 1996, 2000 and 2003.
Red Tail’s location at the southern end of the Alexander Valley appellation puts it close to the Russian River, but the hills in the area protect the vineyard from fog and cool ocean air in the summer. The property itself consists of rolling hills varying in elevation from 320 to 440 feet. With clay and sandy loam soils that range in depth from 18″ to 5′ over compacted sandstone, the ranch’s location and moderate fertility make it ideally suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon.
Year after year, the Cabernet Sauvignon from Miraval Vineyard forms the backbone of our Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes display an excellent balance of ripeness, finesse, elegance and depth, and we prize this fruit so much that we source additional grapes from a number of neighboring vineyards.
Named for the spectacular view of Alexander Valley from the top of the property – its name is a contraction of the Spanish words “mirar” (to look) and “valle” (valley) – our Miraval Vineyard has been planted with wine grapes for over 100 years. We purchased the 80-acre vineyard in 1987 and planted it with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
Located toward the southern end of the Alexander Valley appellation, Miraval sits on a bench above the Russian River at an altitude of 200–350 feet. The clay and sand loam soils have good water-holding capacity and are well suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon. With a combination of flat areas and gentle slopes, the ranch is divided into six different blocks based on geography and soil type.
Geyserville Estate Vineyard
Contributing a unique element to our Alexander Valley Cabernet, grapes from our Alexander Valley Vineyard produce intense, spicy wines that are a perfect foil for the acidity and brightness of our Red Tail Vineyard and the depth and complexity of our Miraval Vineyard wines. Purchased by Silver Oak in 1992, the 12-acre vineyard surrounds our Geyserville winery in the northwestern end of Alexander Valley.
Featuring steeply rolling hills that vary in elevation from 270 to 360 feet, much of the Alexander Valley Vineyard is terraced, and the low to moderately fertile soils vary from areas of dense clay to clay loam, with underlying serpentine rock and shale. Because of this variation, we use two different rootstocks and have divided the vineyard into six irrigation blocks, according to the particular profile of each soil type. Protected by surrounding hills and featuring a consistently warm and sunny climate, this vineyard was replanted with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in 2008.
Sourcing grapes from growers throughout each appellation has a number of advantages. The diversity of sites, soils, microclimates, elevations and plant material within each appellation has a profound effect on our wines. Working with growers from all parts of the appellation gives our winemaking team access to a broad palette of flavors, creating more possibilities for our Cabernets. It also gives us an opportunity to exchange ideas and information – a vital part of our process.
Winemaker Daniel Baron, our Grower Relations Manager Nick Filice and the rest of our winemaking team work very closely with the growers, many of whom have farmed their land for generations. Together, we get the highest-quality fruit from their vineyards. They learn from us, and we learn from them – not only about their particular vineyard site, but how they adapt to what Mother Nature gives them. Sourcing from independent growers gives us insights into different viticultural techniques, which we can put into practice in our own vineyards.
We are fortunate to work with some of the most dedicated growers and highest-quality vineyards in Napa Valley and Alexander Valley. Every year we host a Grower’s Dinner, where we invite them to taste the wines we’ve made from their vineyards – still in separate lots – from the previous harvest. In some cases, it’s the only time the grower gets to taste wine made exclusively from his or her grapes. But the best part is getting to celebrate the achievement of the vintage with the people who help make Silver Oak wines what they are: wines that truly represent the appellations in which they’re grown.