Images Courtesy of Suzanne Becker Bronk
The Oak Knoll District AVA is a Napa Valley Appellation located at the southern end of the mid-valley floor, known for its close proximity to the San Pablo Bay, resulting in relatively cooler and more moderate temperatures.
Oak Knoll District is located in the southern end of central Napa Valley, California and was officially designated an American Viticultural Area in 2004. Known for its relatively cooler climate and long growing season, the Oak Knoll District is one of Napa Valley's more renowned sub-appellations. Oak Knoll is one of Napa Valley’s flatter appellations and it enjoys primarily deep loam soils. Its location to the north of Napa city places it right in the path of the daily fog that creeps up from the Bay, making it one of the cooler AVAs. Because of this, many white grapes can be found here, along with pockets of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and some old vine Zinfandel.
The center of the appellation is dominated by rich fluvial soils, which are deposited over time by the rivers meandering path and regular flooding. These deep fertile soils make for fruity and charming wines (no strict mountain tannins here!). Things get slightly more complicated in the west, where a small alluvial fan sits at the base of Mount Veeder; here the soil is more gravelly and the terrain slightly undulating. From a climatic perspective, the regular fog keeps the temperatures down, which means the wines tend to be among the more elegant and understated in Napa Valley.
The area now known as the Oak Knoll District was originally part of the Rancho Napa land grant, nearly 23,000 acres of land given to Salvador Vallejo in 1838 by Mexican Governor Juan Alvarado. Salvador Vallejo was the younger brother of General Mariano Vallejo and had served as the Captain of Militia at the Sonoma Mission. Rancho Napa bordered George C. Yount's Rancho Caymus to the north and Rancho Yajome to the east, on the other side of the Napa River.
In 1851 Joseph W. Osborne was one of the first people to introduce fine vinifera varieties to the area, including Zinfandel, after purchasing an 800 acre plot of land in Rancho Napa. He named it Oak Knoll Ranch and as early as 1857 was already winning awards in the Bay Area for his wine made from "Foreign Grapes." Despite this early recognition, viticulture was not the most important agricultural activity here during this time, with only around 5% of available land used for vineyards in the 1880's. Then, local wine production declined even further with the onset of Phylloxera in the late 1890's and Prohibition in 1920.
Since the end of Prohibition, numerous vineyards have been planted in the Oak Knoll District, now totalling over 4,150 acres of planted grapevines. The Oak Knoll District was officially designated an American Viticultural Area in 2004.
"The Oak Knoll District is a unique and distinctive grapegrowing area that has been informally recognized as a viticultural area for decades. It deserves to be recognized as an important American Viticultural Area within the Napa Valley."
- Janet Trefethen, Trefethen Vineyards
"The location of the Oak Knoll District at the mouth of the Napa Valley, with our warm sunny days moderated by the daily cool breezes off of the bay, means that the fruit can ripen slowly, maintaining freshness and aromatic lift, while developing a soft and elegant mouthfeel with balance and finesse."
- Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines
The cooler climate of the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley contributes a wonderful combination of red and black fruit to the rich palate, while extensive barrel aging softens the tannins on this 100% Petite Sirah.
The fruit for our Clif Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from a small ranch in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, called Ryan’s Vineyard. With its ideal soils, warm days, cool, foggy nights, and dedicated vineyard management team, this vineyard is perfect for growing Sauvignon Blanc.
From a 0.9 acre vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, one small vineyard of only 14 acres left of Chenin Blanc in the Napa Valley
Made from Old clone Chardonnay in the Oak Knoll District. 2019 vintage bottled in the spring of 2021. Designed to age, similar to Meursault. Mitch Cosentino has worked with this vineyard for 25 years. 18 months in barrels on the lees, No malolactic.