Justin Meyer and Silver Oak Cellars

Justin Meyer was a winemaker and enologist from the United States. In 1972, he co-founded Silver Oak Cellars, a successful winery centered in the Napa Valley and Alexander Valley, with Raymond Twomey.[1] Duncan’s sons, David Duncan and Tim Duncan, now own Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey Cellars, which was founded in 1999.

Meyer would contribute his winemaking, cultivation, and business knowledge of the Californian market while Duncan provided the financial backing. In 1972, they released their first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon, which aged in the ancient Keig Dairy barn on the initial plot of land Duncan purchased. They decided to make only Cabernet Sauvignon and try to make the best in the world by aging the wine exclusively in American oak barrels.

Did You Know: Many wineries in Napa and Sonoma age their red wines in French oak barrels rather than American oak.

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According to the famous wine writer Robert Parker, Meyer always believed in collecting ripe, physiologically mature fruit. Meyer and Duncan worked at the Christian Brothers Winery for their first three vintages before purchasing the Franciscan Winery in 1975. They then sold it in 1978 to purchase the Silver Oak Winery near Oakville and acquire new land.[2]

Meyer believed that the 1982 crop was unique and hence, intended to duplicate it in subsequent years when the Silver Oak Winery began production in 1981. Silver Oak’s massive growth from 1977 onwards enabled the company to buy more vineyards in the 1980s and early 1990s, allowing it to become one of the most successful Cabernet Sauvignon brands.

By the 1994 vintage, Silver Oak Napa had evolved into a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot matured completely in American oak, a California version of the classic Bordeaux wine.

Meyer served as president of the American Vineyard Foundation in the 1990s, among other positions in the wine industry. He amazingly resurrected the dormant American Vineyard Foundation in the late 1980s.

He spent a lot of time training Daniel Baron to take over as Silver Oak’s chief winemaker. Eventually in the late 1990’s he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and a degenerative brain disease. He sold his part of the company to Ray Duncan in January 2001, citing health issues, but he remained a consulting winemaker until his death in August 2002.

The History of Oak Barrels

THIS DAY IN WINE HISTORY

1972: Justin Meyer co-founded Silver Oak Cellars, a successful winery centered in the Napa Valley and Alexander Valley, with Raymond Twomey. Duncan’s sons, David Duncan, and Tim Duncan, now own Silver Oak Cellars.

1999: Twomey Cellars, was also founded by Duncan’s sons.

1972:  Company released their first vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, which was aged in the ancient Keig Dairy barn on the initial plot of land Duncan purchased. They decided to make only Cabernet Sauvignon and age the wine exclusively in American oak barrels.

1982: Silver Oak winery began production. Meyer believed that the 1982 crop was unique and hence, intended to duplicate it in subsequent years in the Silver Oak Winery. Silver Oak’s massive growth from 1977 onwards enabled the company to buy more vineyards in the 1980s and early 1990s, allowing it to become one of the most successful Cabernet Sauvignon brands.

1994: Silver Oak Napa had evolved into a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot matured completely in American oak, a California version of the classic Bordeaux wine.

1990s: Meyer served as president of the American Vineyard Foundation in the 1990s, among other positions in the wine industry. Meyer’s most important contribution was his ability to bring growers and winemakers together to shape the future of California wine.

1990s: Meyer was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and a degenerative brain disease.

January 2001: Meyer sold his share of the company to Ray Duncan, citing health issues.

August 2002: Meyer died. Until his death, he remained a consulting winemaker.

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References:

[1] Justin Meyer.” Wikipedia, 21 July 2021, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Meyer. Accessed 29 Oct. 2022.

[2] Silver Oak Cellars – the Napa Wine Project. www.napawineproject.com/silver-oak-cellars/. Accessed 29 Oct. 2022.

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