A couple weeks ago, we headed up to one of our favorite Napa Valley wineries, Silver Oak Cellars, looking to taste some of their famous Oakville cabernet sauvignon. As we made our way down the long, tree-lined driveway toward the winery, we were suddenly aware of the fact that something wasn’t right. As we got closer, we could see the better part of the winery and tasting room were under construction. Off to the right were several portable buildings and a slew of cars parked in a nearby gravel lot.
So what, exactly, was going on? We quickly learned of the winery’s plans to construct a brand new facility on its Oakville estate (they just broke ground in February). Never one to miss out on an interview opportunity, we caught up with the winery’s general manager, David Duncan, who was gracious enough to fill us in on plans for the new winery in Oakville, which is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2008 crush. As an added bonus, he also provided us with a couple renderings of the new facility! Read on for all the details.
CB: Tell us about the new winery. Can you share specifics on how it will look? New features or advances? What can we expect to find when we enter the new facility once it’s completed?
Duncan: We are fortunate to be designing a winery for a single purpose that we have pursued for over 35 years. We only produce one wine in Oakville: our Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and that is the only wine our new winery will make. The good thing is, we have been at it for so long that we know exactly what we “wish we had.” That is the winery we are building. The whole winery will be ideal to our single purpose and we are building in flexibility for winemaking advances in the future.
Part of our design objective is to honor our past and make the facility “feel like” Silver Oak. The main hospitality building will be constructed of stone we are reclaiming from a 180 year old building in Kansas.
CB: What exactly is a hospitality center and what will be included in it?
Duncan: We will have a tasting room, offices and a kitchen suitable for our style of “casual elegance” entertaining. There will also be a beautiful wine cellar display and an inviting courtyard to relax and enjoy Oakville.
CB: In your mind, what’s the one thing visitors will be “wowed” by when they visit the new facility?
Duncan: The winery will be ideally suited to our winemaking style. It is going to be fantastic! We are also trying to construct something that evokes our own history and the heritage of the Napa Valley.
CB: As part of this project, you purchased a facility from Roshambo Winery over in Healdsburg. Talk to us about that. What is the plan for that facility and how will it be utilized going forward?
Duncan: The Duncan Family purchased this winery as part of our long term plan to increase our sister winery’s, Twomey, Pinot Noir program. Located in the heart of the Russian River Appellation, this location will be ideal to produce Pinot Noir, which Twomey began with the 2002 Vintage. While it was reported in the press that “Silver Oak” purchased this facility that is incorrect.
CB: For anyone who comes to visit Silver Oak Cellars in Oakville between now and when this project is finished, what can they expect? Are tastings still happening as usual? What’s the experience like today?
Duncan: We have gone to great effort to create a tasting room experience during the construction in Oakville. We are open and have a temporary facility on site. Our Tasting room experience is first about the wine and about the friendly people there to greet you. You will also have a front row seat to watch the action as our new winery comes out of the ground. We also have two web cams on our website to follow the progress if you can’t be in the Napa Valley.