is located almost halfway up the steep Oakville Grade just minutes from the valley floor and Highway 29. Trust us, this is not a bad location for a winery – nearby neighbors include cult winery Harlan Estate (you can see Harlan’s vineyards from this property), and high end producer, Far Niente. As a result of its higher than the valley location, on a clear day there are dazzling views of the Napa Valley spread out below. Diamond Oaks is a fairly new winery as it opened its doors in 2004 – Robert Mondavi used to own the current winery facility. Diamond Oaks released their first vintage in 2001. However, the Maniar family has been accumulating vineyard property and growing grapes since 1977 – its just they were selling their fruit to other wine makers rather than making their own wine.
This property has changed hands a number of times; it was most recently owned by Dinesh Maniar who came from a real estate background and in the 1970′s had the foresight to begin purchasing Napa & Sonoma vineyard property with the intent to grow and sell grapes. Land was significantly cheaper back then! It makes sense to start a winery when you have a large portfolio (over 550 vineyard acres). With acreage like this they can afford to pick and choose only the highest quality fruit from these vineyards. Their long time experience in the valley has really carried through to their wines as a number of their wines have already placed very high in various competitions. Today this winery is owned by Bill Harlan, also founder and owner of nearby cult winery, Harlan Estate.
As of press time their total production is about 5000 cases which is actually fairly small. As you stand at the counter its easy to become drawn into the large bucolic old world mural that covers the wall in the tasting room. Choose from several different tasting options. We highly recommend the Chardonnay’s; these were the first wines produced by Diamond Oaks and their commitment to the quality of this varietal definitely shows in the Chardonnays we tried. The 2006 Carneros Estate was fermented in both oak and tank and has a subtle nose that hints of pineapple. Its crisp, clean and a very good everyday wine. The fruit for this wine comes from their Carneros Vineyard located in the southern part of Napa Valley – a cooler growing climate ideally suited for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The 2006 Chalk Hill is very golden in color and has totally different aromas and flavor profile than the Carneros. The aromas are more toasted almond, with hazelnut and caramel notes on the palate intermingled with tropical notes. Quite nice! Not many wineries in the main part of Napa Valley have a Pinot noir – but this winery has a delicious one – from the Carneros region. The 2006 Carneros Pinot noir is an aroma spice box with notes of cedar and pepper leading to a palate also rich in spices with cinnamon and cloves. The palate also shows nice fruit including raspberry, cola notes and strawberry. They make a Merlot and also several Cabernet Sauvignons.
Picnic tables are available under the oaks on a small hill just outside the main entrance. If the tables are not reserved for other parties and the weather is nice you can elect to have your tasting outside. For a winery that doesn’t require any appointments to visit – this is definitely one of the more private Napa experiences. They are one of just a couple “hillside” wineries anywhere surrounding Napa Valley that you can simply walk in for a tasting; most hillside wineries are either private or require appointments. Also of note are their prices – based on Napa standards all their wine is priced quite reasonably. Visit: www.diamond-oaks.com
NOTE: This producer sold the property but maybe/BARELY has kept the label active. We know the winemaker – we will interview him sometime in 2013.
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Stopped producing wine commercially, property sold and the physical winery and tasting room was torn down to make way for a new Bill Harlan owned winery, Promonotory
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