Durant & Booth opened a tasting room in Oakville (next to the Oakville Grocery) in May of 2016. The tasting room is located inside the original family home of one time owners of this property, James and Jennie McQuaid. The home was built in 1877 and predates the original Oakville Mercantile building next door (now the Oakville Grocery) which was built in 1881 (considered the oldest continuously operating grocery store in the State of California).
In the early 1900’s the property again changed hands, Frederick Durant was the new owner along with two partners including Joseph Booth. Durant owned this home and Mercantile for nearly 40 years. The property was under ownership by well known Napa vintner Leslie Rudd from 2007 until late 2018 when it was acquired by vintner Jean Charles Boisset.
For a number of recent years this home was used for storage for the Oakville Grocery and for visitors, it was where you walked from the grocery to use the restrooms.
Leslie hired famed wine country architect Howard Backen (the man whose firm Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects has worked on notable Napa wineries including Harlan Estate, Dana Estates and Larkmead, among others). They have done a remarkable job inside combining modern with historical Victorian period elegance. And there is a certain nod to the darker side of the Victorian era – with decorations including a lobotomy kit and a bat prepared by a taxidermist.
Affectionately called “Curious George” by the staff, a stuffed peacock keeps a watchful eye on visitors from the second floor.
Note the postcards lining the wall as you enter next to the historic post office box. The United States Post Office has maintained an Oakville Post Office for decades – this is still a working post office box. Simply fill out and address one of the post cards, pay for postage and the tasting room will see that it goes into the next available mail pickup.
Tastings are by walk-in (if they are able to accommodate), however reservations are preferred. Choose from several flights, one of which includes a cheese and small charcuterie plate (in partnership with both the next door Oakville Grocery and Press Restaurant located a few miles up the road). Seating is relaxed, at tables or along the the edges of the main room.
At the time of this review, Oakville Grocery has built a stand alone commercial kitchen next door and plans call for the tasting room to be able use this to offer additional pairings. Seating is now available to the rear of the home – outdoors in a private semi shaded area. And plans call for pop up dinners for wine club members and possibly ‘movie nights’ in their patio.
The wines are sourced from both Sonoma and Napa counties. Note the creative labels – this ‘water marbled’ look and color corresponds to nuances within the wines including aromas and flavors. For example the lighter and yellower colors are labels on their white wines while the darker, red and black colors on labels are on their red wines.
The 2014 Sauvignon blanc shows an elegant bouquet – revealing grassy notes, citrus aromas and as it opens honeysuckle and red apple. There is a graphite or minerality note both on the bouquet and the palate. Lemon zest and a lively tartness lingers on the finish. Good balance. Good acidity.
The 2012 Chardonnay was sourced from the Russian River region in neighboring Sonoma County. It shows a dark straw color in the glass with citrus aromas and notes of toasted oak on the bouquet. Aromas of baking spice, baked apple and pear. As the wine opens more baking spices show along with pineapple. Aromatically this wine has a lot going on. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeast, spent 15 months in barrel and was aged on the gross lees.
The 2013 Cuvée is a 77% Zinfandel / 33% Petite Sirah blend also fermented with indigenous yeasts. This wine is noticeably dark in the glass – while the Petite Sirah comprises a much smaller part of the blend – this varietal dominates the wine. The bouquet shows an elegant dusty component with blackberry, a slight note of tar and white pepper. However, it is the fruit that shows the most on the bouquet. A rich density and chewiness of tannins show mid palate through to the finish. Slightly sharp, long lasting tannins linger for some time. Add some cheese or meat to cut through the tannins.
The 2012 Reserve is a Bordeaux style red blend – with Cabernet Franc forming the base of the blend followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and much smaller percentages of Malbec, Merlot and Petite Verdot. Undergoes 30 days of maceration. It is dark and inky colored in the glass with a noticeable sweetness of fruit on the bouquet, somewhat floral along with notes of cassis, black licorice and hints of cedar. Muscular tannins anchor layers of flavor. Decent acidity. This is a very well made wine that one might mistake as mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. Interestingly enough, this Reserve is their largest produced wine at 900 cases for this vintage.
Guests may taste by walk-in or schedule an appointment a head of time. Those who visit around lunch time may request a VIP tasting – in which a private table will be held for your party – with several lunch courses paired with their wines.
For more information, to schedule and appointment or to join one of their wine clubs, visit: www.durantandbooth.com