THE FRANCISCAN ESTATE VINEYARDS
OAKVILLE, THE HEART OF THE NAPA VALLEY
Our home estate is located in Oakville, right in the heart of the Napa Valley. Our 240-acre parcel of prized land features loamy, gravely, well-draining soil which adds great structure to our wines. Our location in the center of the Napa Valley allows our Bordeaux varietals to enjoy the cooling marine influences while still receiving plenty of sun and heat. When you combine our location with dry-farming techniques, the vines produce smaller, concentrated fruit, which builds wine of good structure, body, and texture. This optimal blend gives our fruit the ability to maintain its vibrancy and ripen to its full potential.
With this unique balance of terroir and climate we knew Oakville was the ideal place to start our legacy; this was confirmed in 1975 when the very first vintage of our Napa Valley Cabernet was released. The results spoke for themselves – this was a distinctive wine of character and place. It was the first vintage to be released that included fruit from the Oakville estate. This was prior to our esteemed neighbors Opus One, Swanson, Silver Oak, and Groth. Oakville had officially landed on the map as a powerhouse district for Napa Valley Reds and Franciscan Estate had helped blaze the trail to make it happen.
NAPA VALLEY AND OAKVILLE ESTATE
The majority of our fruit comes from the southern half of the Napa Valley benefiting from San Pablo Bay’s cooling marine influences. Our Oakville Estate vineyard forms the heart of our Cabernet Sauvignon program. With Merlot, we also bring in grapes from Yountville south to Napa and in particular the Oak Knoll appellation, which is known for its texture and bright fruit. For our Chardonnay, we go to much cooler vineyards near the town of Napa in the Carneros region bordering San Pablo Bay. There, near the bay’s cool shores, we have a 17-acre estate vineyard where clay and gravel soils result in grapes with astounding structure and minerality.
In the Oakville District where we planted our estate vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon reigns, but true to Bordeaux all Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc) are grown. Nearby are the vineyards of other esteemed producers of Cabernet Sauvignon. The exquisitely balanced climate of Oakville’s mid-valley location holds the key to Cabernet’s success here. Oakville is far enough south in Napa Valley to enjoy the cooling benefits of the morning fog from San Pablo Bay, but far enough north to bask in warm afternoon sunshine. On a typical July day, Oakville will be 3 degrees cooler than St. Helena five miles to the north, and eight degrees cooler than Calistoga in the northernmost tip of the valley. Oakville soils are primarily made up of well-drained, rich clay loam that offers mouth-filling fine tannins.