Silver Oak Cellars
Silver Oak Cellars on James Cluer's Wine Route
Our Silver Oak Alexander Valley and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons are crafted with a single-minded focus on Cabernet excellence. By sourcing from only the highest caliber fruit and using an extended aging process, we create delicious wines that are eminently drinkable upon release.
Our Winery Locations:
Silver Oak Napa Valley Winery
915 Oakville Crossroad
Oakville, CA 94562
Silver Oak Alexander Valley Winery
24625 Chianti Rd
Geyserville CA 95441
- Life is a Cabernet.
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But Daniel soon moved to Knights Valley, where he met vineyard manager John Rolleri, his first mentor, with whom he apprenticed at two ranches before Rolleri hired him as a tractor driver and field hand at Chateau Montelena. Rolleri taught Daniel how to plant, prune and harvest, and that experience was enough to inspire him to return to college. In the space of four years, 1974–1978, he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in viticulture and enology at UC Davis. There, he met his second mentor, Professor Harold Olmo, who introduced Daniel to some of the great California vineyardists, like Rollin Wilkinson and Bob Steinhauer, who have remained great sources of knowledge and perspective to this day.
After UC Davis, Daniel worked as vineyard manager and assistant winemaker at Anderson Valley’s Navarro Vineyards, but in 1981, when an opportunity to work in Bordeaux came up, he jumped at the chance. Although that first opportunity didn’t pan out as expected, Daniel stayed in France, working in seven different chateaux over the course of six months to make ends meet. He became fluent in the language and learned the business and social customs. “In France, you don’t do business until you share a meal,” he says. “That made a big impression on me.”
Eventually Daniel landed a job at the legendary Chateau Petrus, and was befriended by owner Christian Moueix, winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet, cellarmaster Jean Veyssiere and his son Francois. Daniel credits them with teaching him about wine as a part of culture and how “history, quality and tradition are intertwined with the practical aspects of winemaking.” And it was Daniel’s performance at Petrus in the legendary 1982 vintage that led Christian Moueix to put him in charge of his new winery in Napa Valley, Dominus Estate.
Daniel worked at Dominus from 1982 to 1994, rising to general manager, when a quirky newspaper ad placed by Justin Meyer of Silver Oak Cellars caught his attention. “Justin was looking to name his successor,” says Daniel. “We hit it off immediately, and although I wasn’t sure about leaving Dominus, Justin wouldn’t take no for an answer.” Daniel worked side by side with Justin until his retirement in 2001. “Justin instilled in me both pride in what Silver Oak had accomplished and the humility to realize that there is always room to improve,” he says. “He constantly searched for ways to raise quality, and that’s become one of our core values at Silver Oak.”
After Justin retired, Daniel continued as winemaker at Silver Oak under the leadership of the Duncan family, and was instrumental in the creation of Twomey Cellars in 1999, another Duncan family winery. As a producer of single-vineyard Napa Valley Merlot, the winery is based on his vision of creating a world-class California Merlot using the labor-intensive soutirage traditionnel method that he learned in Pomerol. More recently, Daniel oversaw the addition of a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and several Pinot Noirs to Twomey’s offerings. In 2007, Daniel was named Director of Winemaking for Silver Oak and Twomey; it is now his turn to mentor winemaking teams at four facilities – and true to his roots in the vineyard – oversees approximately 280 acres of vines.
For Daniel, wine has always been more than something to drink. His family’s love and appreciation of good food, his time in France and the many mentors he’s had along the way have led Daniel to an appreciation of the role wine plays in daily life, as well as history and culture. “To me, creating wine is one of the ways people preserve civilization,” he says.
Daniel lives in Napa with his wife, Gwyneth, and their three children. Still a beach rat, he enjoys surfing and sailing, as well as snowboarding, playing the mandolin and practicing Japanese martial arts. He has served on the boards of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, Napa Valley Wine Technical Group, Congregation Beth Sholom and the Napa Valley Youth Symphony.
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.
Practices & Techniques
Our Oakville winery features 1,464 solar panels, enough to power all of our energy needs, most of the time. Since installation, we’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to what an average passenger car emits over 122 years. The panels have generated more energy than we use, resulting in 292,000 kilowatt hours sent back to the grid.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – We use IPM to regulate insect populations. This keeps harmful pests in check by providing habitat that attracts beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, spiders, bees, butterflies and predatory mites. We’ve also built nesting boxes in our vineyards for bluebirds and owls, both of which help control unwanted insect and rodent populations.
Cover Crops – We plant cover crops between the vine rows. These help to build organic matter, suppress weeds, improve soil structure and reduce nutrient loss – all of which lead to healthier soils and grapevines.
Water Conservation – To conserve water, we utilize deficit irrigation systems with soil moisture sensors and plant stress monitors to determine the precise level of water application.
Fish Friendly Farming® Certification – This program certifies agricultural properties that restore fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality. Our certified vineyards include Soda Canyon Ranch, Miraval, Calistoga and Geyserville Estate Vineyards.
Green Building – Our winery in Oakville, completed in 2008, is designed for maximum energy efficiency. The fermentation room features “natural” air conditioning, with vents that suck out hot air and allow cool night air to funnel in. Expansive windows provide abundant natural light, and the barrel chai has 11" thick walls, keeping temperatures constant.
Green Business Certified – Our Napa Winery is certified under the Napa Green Winery Program by the Napa County Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Association of Bay Area Governments’ (ABAG) Green Business Program. This winery has completed all the regulatory components needed for environmental sustainability, including developing water and energy conservation methods, preventing pollution and reducing solid waste. This program is set to become the standard for the state of California.
Certified Napa Green Land – To achieve this certification we had to create and implement a customized farm plan that can deliver measured results for all aspects of our property, vineyard land, and non-farmed land. This plan addresses soil conservation, water conservation, stable drainage, riparian corridor enhancement, fisheries and wildlife habitat enhancement, as well as long-term improvement and sustainability.
Other Certifications – We have also received certifications from the Napa County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office of Pesticide Regulation, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Reuse – Our Oakville winery makes extensive use of reclaimed materials. The winery’s limestone exterior came from an old flour mill in Kansas that was about to be torn down, and the tasting bar is crafted of salvaged timber from a Missouri barn.
Recycling – We recycle glass, cardboard, metal, paper and plastics at each of our wineries, and 90% of our shipping materials are recyclable.
Cork Recycling Program – We send corks from opened bottles to ReCORK, whose partners use the reclaimed cork in products such as shoes, playground equipment and flooring.
Estate Vineyards / AVA
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.