Oakville Ranch is a beautiful hillside estate property located in the Oakville appellation in the hills on the east side of Napa Valley. Their location is among some of the most premium vineyard real estate in the Valley – with several prestigious wineries as neighbors (including Ovid and Dalla Valle). They are not open to the general public due to the isolated location and restrictive permit use. The actual 330 acre ranch (at the latest update, 66 acres are planted to vine) was purchased by Bob & Mary Miner in 1989. Bob was one of the co-founders of Oracle; after he passed Mary took over the management of the property.
This is a very highly regarded location for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux red varietals. However they also have two somewhat unusual varietals growing on the property (especially for a hillside location in Eastern Oakville). A small block of Grenache grows towards the eastern side of the property and a 1.2 acre block of Chardonnay is planted on the western side of the property. We recently had a chance to drive through the vineyards in an ATV – certainly a vehicle ideally suited for navigating the often steep terrain.
The views are stunning from parts of the property especially on the western edges with intimate views overlooking much of the Napa Valley. On a clear day you can see all the way down to the glistening waters of the San Pablo Bay (which connects to the San Francisco Bay). Views of their property are of vines, rocks (Napa’s “2nd most popular crop” after grapes), beautiful red soils and chaparral. The elevation is around 1,400 feet. Most of the property is in the Oakville sub appellation but part of the property is in Pritchard Hill.
Much of the fruit produced on the property is sold to a select number of premium winery clients and noted winemakers. They hold back specific vineyard blocks for their own wines. They currently produce about 700 cases.
The soil is shallow here, low in nutrients red and very rocky which are ideal growing conditions if you are seeking very small bunches of grapes, with yields extremely low compared to the valley floor grown fruit. This is of course, perfect conditions for producing intensely flavored wines. Their vineyards are certified organic by CCOF.
The estate is absolutely stunning with incredible views of the Napa Valley below and some interesting sculptures including one by Henry Moore. Solar panels provide 100% of their daily electrical needs. Other features of the property include gardens, an intriguing conservatory built in 1937 (that looks like it is from another era) is home to orchids, palms and various tropical plants, an old home built in the early 1900’s as well as another building that dates from the later 1800’s.
Their focus is currently on four wines; Chardonnay, a Field Blend, Cabernet Franc and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 2015 Oakville Ranch Chardonnay was produced from yields that were much lower then in a normal vintage. In addition these grapes were harvested the earliest on record for the vineyard block – picked in August. The wine was fermented entirely in barrel and underwent full malolactic fermentation. It is very aromatic with notes of citrus (orange) and citrus blossom with some spicier notes as well. Despite the full secondary fermentation, shows good acidity tempered by noticeable weight. A rich representation of this varietal with a very lively finish.
The 2014 Field Blend was is a nod to early wines in the valley – where multiple varietals were grown, harvested and fermented together – a blend from the vineyard rather then from the winemaker. This field blend is composed of 73% Zinfandel and 27% Petite Sirah. Ripe notes of blackberry (think blackberry jam) show on the bouquet – it has a noticeable Zinfandel bouquet – shows a bit of pepper spice as well. Ripe on the palate drinks very well by itself as a young wine.
The 2012 Robert’s Cabernet Franc is made in honor of Bob Miner; this wine initially shows a smoky characteristic on the bouquet but as it opens this is replaced by plenty of fruit including red and black cherry, blackberry and a more subtle floral component. Fairly supple on the palate it finishes with earthy slightly drying tannins.
The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is fairly dark in the glass revealing appealing aromatics including blueberry, cassis and a hint of vanilla. Ripe on the palate is shows good ‘food’ tannins – they are robust and slightly chewy. Hints of mocha linger.
Oakville Ranch has been extremely supportive of the largest annual Napa charity fundraising event – the Napa Valley Auction. In fact their general manager has chaired this event in the past. Oakville Ranch donates 1% of their total gross profits to an organization called 1% For The Planet – funds from businesses who participate in this are distributed to organizations protecting the environment worldwide.
Oakville Ranch, Historic greenhouse
The “signs” of Oakville Ranch