Oak Knoll's Grape Growing Climate
The Role of Climate in Oak Knoll Wine Production
Located on the Southern Napa Valley Floor, Oak Knoll is exposed to wind, fog, and other moderating effects from the San Pablo Bay. The proximity of the bay makes Oak Knoll’s climate more humid than northern AVAs in the Napa Valley.
Carneros is the only wine region in Napa Valley with a cooler climate. This gives wines from Oak Knoll wines a certain restraint that northern AVAs lack. Cool temperatures retain acidity levels in grapes.
Oak Knoll Chardonnay has sufficient acidity and is elegantly balanced. Most producers restrain from using too much oak, which is to my liking. Several non-resident wineries also source Chardonnay from the region. Chateau Montelena makes a particularly nice version.
Pinot Noir from Oak Knoll tends to be earthy with spicy fruit. They are a bit more full bodied than versions from Carneros. Riesling also does well in the cool climate and produces delicate, refined wines. Trefethen makes a floral Riesling with a hint of residual sugar.
By Napa Valley standards, the region has a longer than average growing season. This allows warm weather varietals to ripen. Although many grape varietals thrive in the AVA, none is better suited to the gentle slopes and mild heat than Merlot. Cabernet Franc also does quite well. McKenzie Mueller makes a nice version of this varietal.
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