May 18, 2024
Oakville Wine Region in Napa Valley

Oakville Wine Region in Napa Valley

Introduction and History of the Oakville Wine Region in Napa Valley

The Oakville region has become associated with quality wine in the last several years. Situated in the heart of the wine industry in Napa Valley, there are some 5,000 acres of vineyards stretching throughout this region. This is one of the most popular regions with tourists in Napa Valley.

This region, in particular, has become well known and recognized for quality production of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the most widely regarded wineries in the region include Rudd Winery, Dalla Valle, Opus One, Screaming Eagle and Silver Oak Winery.

It is believed that one of the reasons this region has been so successful at producing highly sought after wines is due to the warm climate and its location north of the Yountville Mounts. Most of the wind as well as the fog from San Pablo Bay is blocked; providing quite a bit of protection to the area. As a result, the region’s grapes are given sufficient time to ripen as well as to develop the characteristics for which wines from this region have become known.

The distinct and decidedly different terrains in this region have also lent to its success. Due to the distinct terrains in this region, a variety of different grapes are able to thrive. Just a few of the varieties that are commonly planted in this region include Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. On the valley floor, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are also very common.

The history of wine production in Oakville is long and distinguished. The first vineyards in this region were planted by Hamilton Walker Crabb. 240 acres of land were purchased by Crabb in 1868. The Kalon Vineyard was soon established. Forty years later, there were more than 400 acres of vineyards in the region.

When phylloxera struck the area during the 1880s Crabb proved to be quite proactive. In fact, he was one of the very few winemakers in the region to convert his vineyards to root stocks that were phylloxera resistant. Most of the remainder of the industry in the area was subsequently destroyed by this rather aggressive pest.

Those that remained were struck by Prohibition. Most of the vineyards in the area during this time were either neglected or completely destroyed due to the lack of demand as a result of Prohibition. There were a few vineyards that remained and were planted with specific varieties that could make it through being shipped to the East Coast for home winemaking purposes. During this time large tracts of land that had previously been planted with some of the most noble varietals in the region were completely uprooted and replaced with prune orchards; the main agricultural crop of Napa Valley for several decades.

Following the repeal of Prohibition, it took a number of yeas before the Oakville wine region recovered. Eventually, things begin to change in the 1950s when most of the old Crabb estate was purchased by Cesare Mondavi. The old Kalon Vineyard was included in the purchase. Before long, Mondavi began to produce some wine from the quality grapes growing at the To Kalon.

During the 1960s, Heitz Cellars went into production of Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; a wine that would become critically acclaimed. At the same time, the wine renaissance of Napa Valley began to pick up Steam. Robert Mondavi separated from the family winery at Charles Krug and went into production in Oakville; further solidifying Oakville’s place as a premier wine region.

It has been said that Mondavi has contributed more to the development of the Napa Valley wine industry as a whole than anyone else. After splitting away from his family, he set about establishing a completely innovative winery in Oakville. His winery was built literally from the ground up and included in his vision the establishment of a tasting room that would welcome visitors as well as tours of the behind the scenes wine making process. As a result of his vision, the wine industry in Oakville; as well as Napa Valley has never been the same.