Boyd Family Vineyards (never to be confused with the winery/vineyard of the same exact name down in Argentina) is located in the heart of the Oak Knoll district just north of the town of Napa and was founded by Stan and Joan Boyd (with their first vintage from 2000). Conveniently using their last name for their wine, Stan likes to joke that Boyd also stands for “Big Old Yellow Dog” – which would make sense when one sees their Yellow Labrador dogs.
Stan used to work in San Francisco for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (when they were headquartered in San Francisco) and would often visit the Napa Valley. He began a search for property here that lasted 5 years before he located and purchased this property in 1998. He recalls the property at that time was planted to old plum trees (which were in bad shape). At that time, the property needed some significant upkeep; they soon planted Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon (today they also grow Viognier). While they produced their own wines from the estate, they continue to sell about 50% of the grapes produced from their vineyard to other local producers.
And like the wine bug, even after retiring from Fairmont, Stan was involved in local hospitality; he was one of several partners for a number of years in the Holiday Inn Express and Suites located in American Canyon, slightly south of the city of Napa. Today along with running Boyd Cellars, Stan is an avid cyclist having cycled across the United States several times with friends.
Around 2000 Fairmont moved their headquarters to Toronto and Quantas (who Joan was working for in marketing) moved their headquarters to Los Angeles. Neither Stan nor Joan wanted to move to either of those cities so they decided to move to their Napa Valley property (which they already owned).,
Today their estate property is very well cared for (referred to as the Big Ranch Vineyard) and extends east to the border of the Napa River. Stan and Joan built a picturesque home for themselves with a nearby structure modeled after a ‘water tower’ which partly services as a wine storage facility. About half of their grapes are sold to other wineries each year, but they do hold back a certain amount of fruit for their own wines.
All their wines were literally made “next door” at the very hands-on small Robert Biale Winery. However, in 2015 they moved their production slightly further away – simply a mile to the north at a state of the art winery (also in Oak Knoll).
For a small producer (currently around 3,000 cases annually), Boyd specializes in a number of wines – both reds and whites. Much of the fruit for their wines comes directly from their estate; the grapes they selectively source from other vineyards are all from the Oak Knoll District.
The Oak Knoll District was founded as an appellation in 2004. Due to its proximity in the Napa Valley it is a sweet spot between thes warmer up-valley appellations and the cooler Los Carneros region to the south, A number of white varieties do well here, primarily Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc and of the reds, Merlot is often sourced from this region by premium producers who do not own vineyards here. The appellation is located on the valley floor and has deep alluvial soils. Oak Knoll is one of Napa Valley’s most diverse wine growing appellations as far as the number of varieties grown here.
While the appellation is fairly small there are a wide variety of micro climates within its borders – lending itself to this wide diversity of varieties. Certain parts of the appellation are better suited for warmer weather varieties while other parts are better for cooler weather varieties.
A hallmark of the Boyd wines is balance regardless of whether it is a lighter white wine or one of their richer reds. And they make a nice balance of both white and red wines (a welcome change from small Napa Valley based producers who often just focus on red varieties – especially those located further up valley). In part their wines are a showcase of the diversity and flexibility of terroir in the Oak Knoll District. Their vineyard is quintessential Oak Knoll – planted to a diversity of varieties.
The 2019 Boyd Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (from their property) is pale straw color in the glass. Crisp aromatics including a lemon/lime zest, gooseberry, green apple along with a pear and a honeysuckle sweetness which is teased out of the aromatics as the wine opens further. Balanced across the palate with flavors of ruby grapefruit, lime and apple. Rounded in texture yet crisp from the acid. Clean finish with a secondary note of a hint of light sweetness. We paired this with a raw salmon Thai style spicy salad with chopped onions, cilantro and lemon grass. Oh and a warm summer evening. Perfecto!
The 2017 Boyd Family Viognier Big Ranch Vineyard Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley is deep gold in color (this wine was fermented in French oak barrels and is 100% varietal). Offers intense and appealing tropical and ripe stone fruit aromatics including of apricot, ripe yellow peach, pineapple and honey, Its floral aromas are also worth noting including honeysuckle. Deeper into the aromatics are notes of vanilla. The bouquet is noteworthy simply because it smells delicious and because it is so well layered. Offers a rounded and slightly creamy texture across the palate. This wine continues with plenty flavor of including of lychee, ripe pear and pineapple. Lingers with ripeness of fruit, brightness of acidity and a slight toasted note nuance.
The 2016 Boyd Family Merlot Big Ranch Vineyard, Oak Knoll District Napa Valley is a blend of 90% Merlot with 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Malbec. It was aged for 22 months in 70% new Nadalie and Taransaud barrels. This wine is deep ruby in color; offers an elegant bouquet with aromas of blackberry and dark cherry and a mocha/espresso and Graham Cracker nuance. The initial hints of jalapeno pepper, green bean and pipe tobacco smoke persist but dissipate slightly after the wine has time to breath – evolving to showcase more aromatics of fruit. Superbly balanced across the palate showcasing a brightness of acidity and red fruits including cherry and currant. The tannins offer a light to medium grip and are still somewhat tightly woven five years post vintage (at the time of our tasting). Plenty of life ahead of this beauty.
Their Syrah which unlike many Napa Valley produced Syrahs, is blended slightly with a white grape, (Viognier). This variety helps provide some of the floral aromas and during co-fermentation actually helps extract some of the color from the red Syrah skins. We vaguely remember Stan telling us from one of our early visits, he harvested the Viognier earlier, kept it chilled and then fermented it with the Syrah when it was harvested later. We will ask him about this the next time we see him.
The 2015 Boyd Family Vineyard Syrah was co-fermented with 4% Viogner – medium to deep purple in color. Offers an elegant ripeness and sweetness of fruit including of blackberry, boysenberry, some black licorice and as the wine breathes further, mocha and espresso. Fun and opulent aromatics. Very tasty. Dark fruits. Meaty/gamy on the palate but not on the bouquet. Finishes with a discernible juiciness, cracked peppercorn and other dark spices, hints of espresso, and a lingering grip of medium structured but rounded tannins.
The 2006 Boyd Family Vineyards Ruby Tuesday Rosé sold out on the day it was released so they doubled the production for the next year! This delightful light summer wine is named after a cat they inherited when they purchased the property. The 2016 is superbly balanced (made from 100% Syrah) – shows pretty notes of raspberry on the bouquet.
The 2013 Boyd Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is very reasonably priced (by Napa standards for this particular variety) and over delivers on the quality of the wine. This vineyard designate (Mogambo Vineyard from the western side of Oak Knoll) shows blackberry and plum aromas on the bouquet with notes of mocha – somewhat savory in it’s aromatic approach. Dense and very well layered on the palate – it shows mostly darker fruit. It is well rounded – the intensity of flavor is complemented nicely by the structure. Not overbearing on the finish.
Boyd Cellars also produces Libertad, a non-vintage Port-style wine.
And in 2018, Boyd Cellars received approval to build a winery on site (after producing their wines at several nearby wineries over the years). Plans are to build the winery on the western part of their property.
All of their wines are priced quite reasonably by Napa standards. Wine club members gain additional benefits besides discounts on the wines – a guest cottage on site can be rented by wine club members on a weekly basis. This is quiet location within the southern part of the valley with easy access to the city of Napa. And if Stan happens to be doing wine related work during your stay here, you are welcome to join him.
Two of Boyd’s favorite items to snack on with some of their wines are the Cougar Gold cheese available for purchase online from the Creamery at Washington State University and Napa Valley Roasted Almonds available from La Saison.
If you are interested in learning more about these excellent wines, ordering the wines and winery events join their mailing list. Visit: www.boydwine.com