Rooted in Oakville

It has been said that if the Napa Valley is the Haut Medoc of California, then Oakville is its Pauillac, such is the concentration of great estates there. In this middle section of the valley, one finds Mondavi’s To Kalon Vineyard, Opus One, Silver Oak, and Screaming Eagle to name a few. And among such venerated company lies the Groth Winery and Vineyards. Groth may not be a household name or even a cult wine; on the other hand, the first California wine to garner a perfect 100 points from Robert Parker was the Groth 1985 Cabernet Reserve.    In 1981, Dennis Groth, a silicon valley executive, was looking for a countryside retreat, where the family could spend weekends and vacations. One day, after looking at properties in Sonoma County, the family headed toward Napa on the winding road that crosses the Mayacamas mountains. Stopping at the top of the Oakville Grade, they were stunned by the vast sea of green vineyards down below and knew that Napa was where they wanted to be. As luck would have it, a vineyard, smack in the middle of the view that so moved them, was for sale. They bought the 140 acre property and made their first wine from the 1982 vintage. It wasn’t long before the weekend hobby required all the family’s attention as a full-time winery business.                                                                                                                                                                              Located on the Oakville Crossroad, the family-owned Groth Vineyard and Winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon from its Oakville estate vineyards and Chardonnay from the cooler, Oak Knoll District AVA. The winery is a striking adobe building that recalls California’s Spanish heritage. The winemaking approach pursues consistency, yet it can embrace change. Though the vineyards escaped the damage wrought by an epidemic of the phylloxera louse in the 1980s, they were largely replanted in the 1990s in order to better match rootstocks and clones with the soils, improve trellising, increase vine density and apply organic and sustainable viticulture. As a result, Groth Cabernets have seen a subtle, yet noticeable, evolution. Whereas earlier vintages expressed an elegant style with savory and sometimes herbaceous notes, over the past decade, the wines have become noticeably richer, more approachable and characterized by deeper, more layered and persistent flavors. With the 2012 vintage, Cameron Perry, formerly of Chateau Montelena, joined Groth as the winery’s mere third winemaker in over 40 years. While the direction that Cameron Perry will take is not yet clear, we do know that Groth’s vineyards are in fantastic shape, entering maturity and, most importantly, rooted in Oakville!