Rebuilt winery rises from the ashes of 2006 fire, true to past, ready for future
Rising from the ashes of a devastating fire in 2006, Silver Oak Cellars new 65,712-square-foot winery and tasting room recently reopened in Oakville on Sept. 29 with a style evocative of the former structure built in 1981.
It retains the two classic stained glass windows that were a hallmark of the original building along with the stately wooden entrance doors that greeted visitors at this Napa destination for more than 25 years.
“The tragic fire had an upside. It presented us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to incorporate all of the technological advancements of recent years into the winery’s new design while also enabling us to anticipate future changes,” said Silver Oak President David Duncan, leader of the rebuilding project.
“The entire site was raised five feet above the flood plain, and the winery was reoriented so that grapes are received on the east side. Our goal was to develop a new winery that honors the past with the flexibility and functionality to sustain growth for the next 50 years. For example, this updated structure also includes some 1,464 solar panels that provide enough energy to supply power for all of our needs most of the time.
“We were able to take our 35 years of experience in both winemaking and hospitality and apply it to creating an ideal space for making our Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon and entertaining our guests. The hospitality area pays tribute to our historic legacy and has a friendly, familiar feel, but we also wanted to offer our guests something new. With the materials we used and the craftsmanship throughout, we’ve tried to create a very memorable tactile experience, where people use all of their senses to experience the wines and the winery.”
Silver Oak Cellars was co-founded in 1972 by David’s father, Raymond Duncan, and Justin Meyer. Dedicated exclusively to producing cabernet sauvignon that is aged and drinkable upon release, the winery makes two wines at two separate facilities: Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon at its winery in Oakville and Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon at the company’s winery in Geyserville, Sonoma County. When Justin Meyer retired in 2001 he sold his share of Silver Oak to the Duncan family.
Today, Silver Oak Cellars is operated by Raymond’s two sons, David and Tim Duncan, who adhere to the principles of continuous improvement and high quality first established by founders Justin and Ray many years ago.
The new timber-framed tasting room features reclaimed stone, oak and redwood plus a soaring, sky-lit fermentation barn containing 43 fermentation tanks.
The tasting bar was crafted from stacked American White Oak 4x4s reclaimed from an 1820 barn in Missouri. Behind the bar there is a distinctive hand- crafted carving, made from the same American White Oak and executed by Master Woodcarver Boris Khechoyan, depicting vineyards and the Silver Oak water tower.
Outside visitors are drawn to the courtyard, fountain and reflecting pool surrounded by sweeping views of the vineyard anchored by Silver Oak’s iconic water tower, which had to be repainted, re-roofed and moved approximately 12 feet from its former location.