Sunday, March 18, 2012

Meet the Boca Bacchanal Vintners: "Life is a Cabernet" at Silver Oak Cellars!

Who knew when Ray Duncan first visited the Napa Valley in the late 1960's it would have such delicious consequences!

Instantly smitten with Napa, Duncan immediately began purchasing land in both the Napa and Alexander Valleys; however, with a home and business in Colorado and no experience in viticulture he realized he couldn't go it alone. He reached out to a man by the name of Justin Meyer and asked him to plant and manage his vineyards. Meyer agreed on one condition: that they create a winery that would forever raise the standards of California wine. And so, in 1972 Silver Oak Cellars was born.

Named for its location at the intersection of the Silverado Trail and Oakville Cross, the partners of Silver Oak took an unconventional approach to their new winery. Rather than producing five or six different varietal wines like many wineries were doing, they decided to only produce one: Cabernet Sauvignon. They decided their wine would be a new style of Cabernet, drinkable the day it was released but one that could also age for many years to come. To achieve this, they decided on an extensive aging program for their wine of approximately 25 months in American Oak Barrels, and 15-20 months of cellaring in the bottle.

Silver Oak's first release in 1972 was produced from fruit from their Alexander Valley vineyards: the initial release price was $6 a bottle! Seven years later they produced their first Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and ever since, Silver Oak has produced two wines per vintage, the Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabs. Eventually they built two wineries, each devoted to producing just one wine. Despite a fire in 2006 that devastated their Napa Valley facility, they took the opportunity to create a new winery for Silver Oak's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that officially opened for harvest in 2008. 

Tom Johnson of Silver Oak Cellars
In 1994, Justin Meyer selected Daniel Baron to succeed him as winemaker and sold his shares of the company 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 and his son David serving as the winery’s President and CEO.
Also, in 1999 Ray Duncan and his four sons created Twomey Cellars with the same philosophy he and Justin Meyer had for Silver Oak: to create food-friendly wines that are deliciously drinkable upon release. However, instead of focusing on only one grape variety, at Twomey Cellars they produce three: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Merlot.

The delightful Tom Johnson will be representing Silver Oak this year at Boca Bacchanal. Tom has worked for Justin Meyer and Ray Duncan since they were owners of Franciscan from 1976-1980. When approached by Justin Meyer to join Silver Oak, Tom agreed, because he knew that joining Silver Oak meant becoming part of a very special wine family.

On Friday March 23rd, Silver Oak will be paired with brothers and Chefs Erasto and Pablo Jacinto (of Jacinto's Kitchen in Santa Rosa, CA and the The Grill at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa respectively) for one of the six Vintner DinnersYou can also enjoy the wines of Silver Oak at the Bacchus Bash on Saturday night and at Sunday's Grand Tasting. Hope to see you there!



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