Ray Twomey Duncan and his four sons of Silver Oak Cellars wanted to expand to other varietals besides the Cabernet Sauvignon made famous at Silver Oak. In 1999 they purchased Soda Canyon Ranch in southeastern Napa Valley with the intention of planting more Cabernet Sauvignon. But they discovered that the Merlot grapes already growing there were of top quality. Their winemaker, Daniel Baron, had developed a passion for Merlot in his years in the Bordeaux region of France working in wineries in Pomerol and St. Emilion. This opportunity with the Soda Canyon Ranch Merlot grapes would give Daniel the opportunity to produce Merlot of the same quality he experienced in France.
Using Ray’s middle name (his mother’s maiden name); the Duncans formed Twomey Cellars in 2003, moving to its current home in Calistoga. As Twomey Cellars grew, additional varietals were added including Pinot Noir from the West Pin Vineyard in Russian River Valley. They now have four Pinot Noirs from Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley and Santa Barbara County. The Pinot Noir program is located in their Healdsburg winery along West River Road and is run by winemaker Ben Cane who joined the team in 2007. He has a passion for Pinot Noir and he crafts his wines to express the different terroir of the various appellations.
Thus, just as Ray did with his Cabernet Sauvignon wineries in Alexander Valley and Napa Valley, Twomey Cellars has two different wineries that specialize in the varietals of their area. The Healdsburg winery specializes in Pinot Noir, while the Calistoga winery focuses on Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2005 Napa Valley Merlot is a balanced, rich wine that has 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc to add a bit of spice and pepper to the wine. The dark color is reminiscent of the fine Merlots of Pomerol. With aromas of black cherry and blackberry plus black pepper and spice, you are drawn in to taste the wine where you experience the same dark fruit flavors along with a soft velvety body and fine balanced tannins leading to a long delicious finish. This wine is great to drink now but will age well over the next 7 to 9 years.
Be sure to visit Twomey Cellars wineries in Healdsburg or Calistoga, and the Silver Oak wineries in Geyserville and Oakville to sample some of the best wines produced in these appellations.
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