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Oakville AVA
Oakville AVA
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Oakville AVA
Oakville AVA
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Oakville AVA
Oakville AVA

Images Courtesy of Suzanne Becker Bronk

The Oakville AVA is a Napa Valley sub-appellation known for its warm climate on the valley floor, which is well suited to wine production. The Oakville AVA is the location of many famous and historic vineyards, including the historic To Kalon vineyard.

Appellation Details

Oakville is located in the heart of Napa Valley. This means it experiences both the heat of the northern reaches and the cooling influence of the Bay’s fog and breezes. Because of this, of the Cabernet-centric valley floor appellations (St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville), its wines, while ripe and powerful, tend to exhibit remarkable finesse and energy. Furthermore, in the western hillsides where the vines are sheltered from the afternoon sun, the wines tend to be more brooding and mineral rich, while those on the volcanic eastern hills that bask in the afternoon sun are dusty, sanguine, with dried fruit tones.

Oakville’s soils vary considerably. In the east they are rust-red and iron-rich with abundant volcanic material mixed into the gravel and loam. In the center of the valley, the soils are deeper, darker in hue and primarily loam-based. The western edge features the famous gravelly fans that include Martha’s Vineyard and To Kalon. Just above this bench, estates such as Harlan are perched on a mix of sedimentary and volcanic rocks and soils.


  • 130 - 1000 feet (40 to 305 m).


  • Primarily sedimentary gravelly alluvial loams on the western side
  • Volcanic but heavier soils on the eastern side
  • Fairly deep, with average water retention


  • Moderately warm, with temperatures commonly in the mid-90s°F (35°C) in the summer
  • Strongly affected by evening and early morning fog, which helps maintain acidity
  • The eastern side of the AVA receives warmer afternoon sun


  • 34 - 36 inches (89 cm) annually

Principal Varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc

Oakville AVA History

H.W. Crabb

H.W. Crabb

The Oakville AVA is located in the north of what was the original Rancho Caymus land grant, awarded to early Napa Valley pioneer George C. Yount in 1836. The land grant consisted of two leagues of land bestowed by Governor Nicolas Gutierrez, with influence from Yount's friend General Mariano Vallejo. As the first major landowner in the area, George Yount had a large influence on how the region would develop and was the first person to plant Mission grapes in the region.

Oakville, the town at the center of the Oakville AVA, started out as a water stop in the 1860's for the Napa Valley Railroad Company. The small village that grew around it supposedly took its name from the numerous dark green valley oaks that existed in the area at the time. In 1868, H.W. Crabb, an early Napa Winemaker, purchased 240 acres of land close to the Napa River and established a winery there, calling it "To Kalon", or "The Highest Beauty" in Greek. By the late 1870's, Crabb was producing over 50,000 gallons of wine per year produced from his 130 acres of planted vines.

Today the Oakville AVA has over 5000 acres of land planted to grapevines, with over 50 wineries sourcing their grapes from this appellation. The University of California, Davis currently maintains a 40 acre research vineyard and laboratory facility called Oakville Station. The Oakville AVA was officially designated an American Viticultural Area in 1993.


"It’s all about the place. The Oakville AVA is the epitome of viticultural variations on a diverse theme of bedrock, soils, climate, weather, water, exposure and elevation. The people drawn to farm and make wines from Oakville grapes play a large part in its greatness as they seek to make wines that are pure and transparent, sculpting the essence and adding subtle nuances to express their unique sites."
- Michael Silacci, Opus One

Notable Wines sourced from Oakville AVA

B Cellars
B Cellars 2013 'Ehrlich Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon

Bold and seductive, this Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Ehrlich Vineyard located in the heart of the Oakville AVA. Aromatics of bramble berry and wild blueberry leap from the glass with subtle nuances of cocoa bean, violets, and exotic spices. These exquisite aromatics lead into a rich and silky palate laden with flavors of wild berry, sweet tobacco and warm barrel spice. This Cabernet showcases silky tannins and a broad mid-palate, which crescendos toward a seemingly endless finish.

View Winery Profile

Nickel & Nickel
Nickel & Nickel 2018 'Martin Stelling' Cabernet Sauvignon

The Martin Stelling Vineyard is located at the base of the western hills in Oakville and is the primary vineyard for Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon. Nickel & Nickel is fortunate to farm two acres of this vineyard. The soils are composed of deep volcanic loam with underlying clay and gravel.

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Cornerstone Cellars
Cornerstone Cellars 2018 'Oakville Station ' Cabernet Sauvignon

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc This historical 40-acre research vineyard was once a part of the famous and revered To Kalon vineyard. For more than 50 years, the staff and students of the University California in Davis have conducted critical viticulture research at this site, including trials of clones, rootstocks, vine spacing, pruning levels, and irrigation. Sitting proudly at the heart of the Oakville sub-AVA in Napa Valley, the combination of weather, soils and location makes it the perfect home for world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Markham Vineyards
Markham Vineyards 2021 'Marked Parcels Oakville Selection' Cabernet Sauvignon

This hidden block, nestled in the western slope of the AVA, holds a cherished place in my heart. I marked this parcel for its classic Oakville character of black currant, velvety plum notes, and firm tannins.

View Winery Profile

Oakville Resources and References

  1. "§9.134 Oakville" (Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms Part 9—American Viticultural Areas, Subpart C—Approved American Viticultural Areas). Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  2. Who We Are: History of To Kalon Vineyard. Napa County Landmarks. (2022, May 20). Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://napacountylandmarks.org/history-of-to-kalon-vineyard-presentation/
  3. "Oakville (AVA): Appellation Profile". Appellation America. 2014. Archived from the original on April 7, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  4. "Oakville Climate & Cabernet Sauvignon Production". Calwineries. 2007. Retrieved October 29, 2007.
  5. "Oakville AVA Bench, Soil and Terrain". Calwineries. 2007. Retrieved October 29, 2007.
  6. Palmer, Lyman L.; Wells, Harry Laurenz (1881). History of Napa and Lake Counties, California. Slocum, Bowen & Company. ISBN 978-1363000555.
  7. Weber, Lin (1998). Old Napa Valley: The History to 1900. Wine Ventures Publishing. ISBN 9780966701401.
  8. "Oakville Winegrowers Members". 2007. Archived from the original on April 29, 2015.
  9. "Wineries of Oakville". Calwineries. 2007. Retrieved October 29, 2007.
  10. O a k v i l l e. (n.d.). Oakville Winegrowers. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.oakvillewinegrowers.com/

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