Turnbull Wine Cellars is located about half a mile north of the Oakville Crossroad on the East side of Highway 29. They own over 200 acres in the Napa Valley and produce in the range of 30,000 cases per year, certainly a lot larger than many of the wineries we have visited on this project, but in the overall size of wineries, they are still fairly small. Their name goes back to the 13th century when a court member saved his king’s life by “turning” an attacking bull away from the king. The king came up with a neat motto after this incident, “fortune favors the bold”. Interpret this saying how you like; it certainly has some truth with some of the boutique Napa wineries producing big bold Cabernets.
However, historical meanings aside, this name was conveniently the last name of the original founder William. He was an architect from the San Francisco Bay Area and in fact designed the current winery building as well as Napa wineries, Cakebread (there are some obvious similarities in the two winery buildings) and Newton. Turnbull produces a variety of wines including several delicious Cabernet Sauvignons; their “boldest” most complex flavored Cabernet Sauvignon is the “Black Label”. The 2004 is a Bordeaux blend…well almost – there is some Syrah added as well! This wine has a big mouth feel with flavors of chocolate, cherries and plum – and has a finish of great length.
Turnbull’s main winery & tasting room is in a wooden building which some visitors confuse with their neighbor Cakebread located right next door, also in a wooden somewhat similar looking building. In fact both buildings were designed by the same architect.
This is the heart of Oakville, some of Napa’s most sought after Cabernet Sauvignon country – and Turnbull produces several premium Cabernets. They own four estate vineyards, three in Oakville including their original vineyard which is next to the winery (14 acres) as well as a 100+ acre vineyard just north of Calistoga.
An outdoor patio behind the tasting room also available and looks over the vineyards. Tasting typically includes 3 wines including their much coveted Cabernet. Enter the small tasting room from the parking lot through a vine covered walkway. Notice the signature Turnbull classic car which you can see from the patio directly across from the tasting bar. As this winery sits close to the main highway, is well established and is on the “Napa Wine Strip”, it can get crowded here on the weekends.
The pourers are very friendly and well versed in the local wine industry. It is not easy when you have 15 people in front of the tasting counter and only two pourers as is often the case on busy summer or Fall weekends. Try their Barbera; their 2004 vintage was their lowest produced commercial wine. Not many Napa wineries even make a Barbera and Turnbull does an excellent job. The tasting room is very contemporary and contains a gallery of prominent photographers including Ansel Adams; the works do rotate about every 6 months. The owner of Turnbull actually has the largest private collection of Ansel Adams photography in the world. Their Black label red wine is paired with assorted cheeses and chocolates. Special tours can be arranged with advance notice.
Fora more intimate personalized tasting consider making a reservation for a tour and private seated tasting. Members may also request a private tasting in a tiny room called The Drafting Room (this was once William Turnbull’s architecture studio).
A Tesla electric vehicle charging station is located on site. For more information, visit: www.turnbullwines.com
Note: this winery was one of the first we visited in Napa for this project: This review has been identified as needing a major update.