GROTH, Oakville, Napa
Dennis & Judy Groth purchased the 121-acre Oakcross Ranch in 1981, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon by Justin Meyer & Ray Duncan between 1972 & ‘74. Some of the fruit went to Meyer & Duncan's Silver Oak Cabernets in the 70s; and Oakcross was source of the legendary 1978 Villa Mt. Eden Reserve Cabernet made by Nils Venge (Villa Mt. Eden is now the home to PlumpJack). Groth also owns the 44-acre Hillview Vineyard in Napa’s Oak Knoll District, source of their Chardonnay & Merlot. Dennis was one of the executives at Atari (remember Pong?), and in 1984 when it was sold, the family moved to Napa. Their first vintage was 1982, the winery completed in 1990, and they were notable very quickly — Robert Parker gave Groth 1985 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon the distinction of being California’s first 100-point wine.
In 2014, Cameron Parry, former winemaker at Chateau Montelena, took over from Michael Weis, who was winemaker from 1994-2014. Michael had succeeded the infamous Nils Venge, Groth’s original winemaker. Vineyard Manager Ben Benson has been farming this land since he joined Groth as the first employee in 1982.
Between 1999 and 2003, most of the Cabernet vineyard parcels were replanted, notably changing the direction of the vine rows — from east-west to north-south orientation (following the valley) — which allows for both optimal air circulation and sun exposure. As a result of the replanting, no Reserve Cab was made between 1999 & 2005. Interesting fact: the east section of Oakcross Vineyard, closest to the Napa River, is too wet and cool for Cabernet, but optimal for Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyard across the river from Groth is the O'Shaughnessy Vineyard that PlumpJack uses as the source for Cade Sauvignon Blanc.
Groth has been a leader in crafting expressive, lower-alcohol style of Sauvignon Blanc and ‘non-malo’ Chardonnay, with greater expression of fruit, using whole-cluster pressing and less aggressive oak treatment. Always wines with structure requiring some bottle-age, the ‘anti-blockbuster’ Groth Cabernet Sauvignon is better than ever, showing all the balance, finesse, depth and character of wines of great pedigree.