Barely a blip on the landscape as you drive north on Highway 29, Oakville is marked only by its grocery store. Oakville's small size belies the big mark it makes in the wine-making world. Slightly warmer than Yountville and Carneros to the south, but a few degrees cooler than Rutherford and St. Helena to the north, the Oakville area benefits from gravelly, well-drained soil. This allows roots to go deep—sometimes more than 100 feet deep—so that the vines produce intensely flavored grapes.
The winemakers who have staked their claim here are an intriguing blend of the old and the new. Big-name wineries such as Far Niente, Robert Mondavi, and Opus One have been producing well-regarded wines—mostly notably Cabernet Sauvignon—for decades. But upstarts such as PlumpJack are getting just as much press these days.