Producing only two wines, the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Silver Oak has long been a staple on steakhouse wine lists and among expense-account diners. These high-prestige, fashionable wines are generally medium-bodied and smooth, with exotic suggestions of bourbon, cocoa butter and chocolate from the American oak barrels in which they are aged for 30 months or longer. Though Silver Oak's wines were once difficult to obtain, production, especially of the Alexander Valley bottling, is now quite large.
It was owner Ray Duncan and then estate manager Justin Meyer, who decided that Silver Oak would be about concentration and quality instead of breadth and quantity. Each wine is produced independently of the other, from start to finish. The older of the two bottlings, the Alexander Valley Cabernet, was first produced in 1972. Today, fruit comes from three vineyards in the Alexander Valley, all planted to 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit from the Red Tail Vineyard, located in southern Alexander Valley produces the acidic, and luminescent elements of the wine, while fruit from its neighbor, the Miraval Vineyard provides its backbone and stability. Cabernet Sauvignon from the Geyserville Estate Vineyard, to the northwest, adds spice to balance out the acidity from the Red Tail grapes. Other Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, which are blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from neighboring growers in the Alexander Valley.
Soda Canyon Ranch, Jump Rock, and Navone Vineyards, are the sources of Silver Oak's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Soda Canyon Ranch Vineyard, in the Atlas Peak appellation, is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Jump Rock Vineyard, also in Atlas Peak, is planted exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon, Jump Rock's fruit is of singular concentration due to the rocky soil and high desert climate of the vineyard. In St. Helena, the Navone Vineyard produces Cabernet responsible for the depth and complexity of the wine.
Beach bum turned wine expert, Daniel Baron, is Director of Winemaking at Silver Oak. He worked alongside original estate manager, Justin Meyer, until Meyer's retirement in 2001 and received the promotion to Director in 2007. A graduate of the winemaking program at UC Davis, Baron came to Silver Oak in 1994 after stints at a number of wineries, including the legendary Château Petrus in Bordeaux.