If you’re into cult Napa wines then you’ll know Oakville well. This is the home of the To Kalon Vineyard and famous wineries such as Screaming Eagle and Opus One. Let’s dive into what makes this place of legends.
Oakville AVA Wines to Know
Cabernet all the way is the name of the game in Oakville. There is little else planted here, as the terroir for Cabernet Sauvignon is considered to be ideal for that grape.
What does it taste like? Well, grapes planted on the alluvial fans near the mountain bases bring power and structure along with freshness and the grapes from clay bring opulence and softness - together you get everything you want in an age-worthy Cabernet. Aromas range from boysenberry, ripe blackberry, and blueberries, with hints of spice, tobacco leaf, and leather.
Notable Vineyards (and Wineries) in Oakville AVA
There’s a tapestry of history and icons here in Oakville, definitely a place to stop by if you’re looking for age-worthy, luxury pricing Cabernet Sauvignon. Here are a few to get you started:
To Kalon vineyard - This plot of land has a fabled history and has some of Napa’s best Cabernets grown there.
Groth - a family-owned, sustainable winery with the first 100-point wine from the USA.
Heitz - family-owned, moving towards biodynamic farming and single-vineyard expressions.
Robert Mondavi - part owners of the To Kalon vineyard producing iconic wines
Opus One - a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild starting with the 1979 vintage
Far Niente - Established in 1885 it’s one of Napa’s oldest wineries.
Harlan Estate - Nestled in the hills above Oakville, edging into the Mayacamas, Harlan is striving to produce a “First Growth” quality wine in Napa.
Screaming Eagle - A winery with cult-like status with very limited allocation
Oakville AVA Terroir
This AVA runs from the base of the Mayacamas in the west to the base of the Vaca range in the east. The outer edges of the AVA have alluvial fans, perfect for producing robust Cabernet Sauvignon. In the central part of the AVA runs the Napa River with deeper clay soils great for many varieties, but generally producing riper, more opulent styles of wine.
When those are blended you get power, opulence and elegance combined to make some of the most premium expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world.
The climate is quite warm as it’s further from San Pablo Bay, however there is still the cooling effect of the fog and the afternoon breezes. It’s about 8 degrees Fahrenheit cooler, on average, than Calistoga to the north. This mixture of warm days but cool nights means ripe fruit, but fresh acidity and fragrance expected from top quality Cabernet.
Oakville AVA Facts
- Oakville gained AVA status in 1993
- Oakville AVA is 5,700 acres in total and one of the largest vineyard areas in Napa Valley with 5,000 acres planted.
- Oakville’s soils are primarily gravelly and sandy, but a small portion is a mix of clay and sandy loam.