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Silver Oak founder dies

Justin Meyer, who created one of California's most prized Cabernets, has died of a suspected heart attack. He was 63.

Meyer co-founded Napa Valley’s Silver Oak Cellars in 1972 with Ray Duncan, an oilman from Colorado. Meyer’s aim was to make high quality Cabernet Sauvignons that would be soft, supple and ready to drink on their release from the winery. The latest vintage to go on sale was the 1997.

Meyer never deviated from his intention to extract the very best from just one varietal. He began with a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. A Napa Valley offering followed, to which Meyer added small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Both cuvées are big, fruity and harmonious, with hallmark new American oak aromas and overtones. Though made in commercial quantities, Silver Oak wines have long enjoyed cult status and command high prices at auction.

Meyer left Silver Oak in 2000 to establish Meyer Family Vineyards near Yorkville in Mendocino County.

Written by Liz Hughes13 August 2002

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