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Silver Oak Owner Buys Winery for New Twomey Merlot

The deal includes the Stonegate winery and tasting room in Napa Valley, but not the brand.

Lynn Alley
Posted: May 14, 2003

The owner of Silver Oak Cellars is buying Stonegate Winery in Napa Valley and will make it the new home of Twomey Cellars, an upscale Merlot label launched last year.

Ray Duncan, co-founder and owner of Silver Oak, said the sale is in its final stages and will include the winery and 17 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards on the property. Not included in the deal are the Stonegate brand and its existing inventory. The sale price was not disclosed.

Daniel Baron, Silver Oak's winemaker, has been producing Twomey at a rented facility. The grapes come from Duncan's 80-acre vineyard in Soda Canyon, east of Yountville.

"Twomey Cellars is a Duncan family project," said David Duncan, Ray's son. "My father, three brothers and I are all involved in it. Twomey was my grandmother's maiden name."

Duncan and the late Justin Meyer, his former partner in Silver Oak, purchased the Soda Canyon property in 1999 as a new grape source for the Silver Oak wines. Winemaker Baron was impressed with the Merlot, which accounts for about half the vineyard, and convinced Duncan to make a departure from the winery's signature wine -- Cabernet aged predominantly in American oak -- and produce a Merlot in a riper style, using French oak.

The Twomey Merlot Napa Valley 1999 was the label's initial release, and it scored 90 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. About 8,000 cases of the 2000 Merlot was recently released, and the Duncan family aims to eventually produce as much as 12,000 cases a year.

Stonegate Winery was founded in 1973 by the Spaulding family and was purchased in 1997 by the California Wine Co. An extensive expansion and remodeling of the winery was completed in 2001. "This transaction allows us the flexibility to grow Stonegate at our own pace," Stonegate CEO Paul Croft said in a statement.

David Duncan said the family selected the winery for obvious reasons. "It's a newly remodeled facility. The size is right, the tasting room is open to the public, and it's a great location."

The winery is located on Dunaweal Lane, just south of Calistoga, in the shadow of Sterling Vineyards. Duncan said Twomey will be open for tastings daily beginning June 5.

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Read more about Silver Oak and Twomey:

  • June 20, 2002
    American Beauty
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