At the forefront of Silverado Vineyards ownership’s philosophy is the idea that their wine needs to be delicious, and the word comes up a lot in the winery’s marketing materials.
But there’s a challenge in that goal, as Russ Weis, Silverado’s general manager, explained during a visit to Grand Cayman for the 2016 Cayman Cookout in January.
“Everyone has their version of delicious,” he noted.
Trying to make wines for the subjective tastes of consumers, therefore, starts in the vineyard and carries over to the winery with a belief that quality grapes combined with a high standard of craftsmanship will lead to what most people would consider delicious wines.
History of the vineyards
As any good winemaker will say, producing a great wine starts with using great grapes, and Silverado’s grapes from its six estate-owned Napa Valley vineyards – which include one in the famed Stags Leap District – have been producing high quality grapes even before the winery started using them to produce their own wine.
Starting with good vines, farmed with modern methods designed to optimize quality rather than quantity, Silverado then uses its state-of-the-art winery to craft the best wines it can, something demanded by its founders, Ron and Diane Disney Miller. Diane, who passed away in 2013, was the eldest daughter of Walt Disney and when she and Ron bought their first Napa vineyards in the late 1970s, she wanted the wines they produced to be “super-high quality,” Weis said.
They established Silverado in 1981, and for the past 35 years the winery has been consistent in its approach, keeping the “classic Napa” style of its wines very much the same despite changing tastes in the market.
Weis thinks that consistent approach and the fact that all the grapes used in Silverado’s wines come from vineyards it owns has been a key to its success.
“It gives us sort of an authenticity that goes with who we are,” he said. “It’s very much the chateau idea.”
Although Silverado is probably better known for its red wines, it makes white wines as well, two of which are available in Cayman at Tortuga Wine and Spirits.
The first one comes from Carneros, just south of the town of Sonoma. Planted in gravelly loam where there was once an apple orchard, the Vineburg Vineyard Chardonnay offers the lemony citrus flavors Chardonnay is known for, along with mineral notes. The other white wine is Sauvignon Blanc from the Miller Ranch vineyard in Yountville, whence some of the best Napa Valley red wines come. Blended with a small percentage of Semillon, Silverado’s refreshing Miller Ranch Sauvignon Blanc offers aromas of grapefruit, lime and tangerine to go with a delicious fruit finish.
Four of Silverado’s red wines are available at Tortuga Wines and Spirits, including a Merlot from the Mt. George vineyard in Coombsville, which is in the cool-climate foothills of an ancient volcano. The vineyard produces a Merlot with a dark color, intense blue fruit flavors and good tannic structure. Aged in mostly French oak – over half of which is new – this is a classic-style wine for those who like “big” Merlots.
Three of the four Cabernet Sauvignons produced by Silverado are available at Tortuga. The first is wine that put Silverado on the Napa wine map, the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which is one of the more reasonably priced-for-the-quality wines from Napa Valley. It is made from a blend of grapes from three of Silverado’s vineyards, mostly Mt. George and the iconic Stags Leap Vineyard. Silverado prides itself on the balance of this wine’s structure and flavor, as well as its versatility in either aging or enjoying immediately upon release.
The other two Silverado red wines available at Tortuga – SOLO and GEO – are higher-end Cabernet Sauvignons. The powerful GEO, which comes entirely from the Mt. George vineyard, blends a small percentage of Cabernet Franc into this delicious wine that is soft enough to drink young, but has enough structure to improve for many years.
SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Stags Leap District, from where some of the Napa Valley’s most iconic Cabs come. Aged in 100 percent French oak, this is an elegant, rich, well-balanced wine with the vibrant fruit and spice flavors that should improve with age for at least 15 years.