Dalla Valle

Dalla Valle Vineyards was founded in 1986 by Naoko and her late husband Gustav Dalla Valle, in Oakville. Initially they had wanted to create a luxury resort, but when they discovered the potential of the site, they changed tack and decided to make wine.

About Dalla Valle

About the producer

They started with just three acres of vineyards, planting Cabernet Franc and Merlot alongside Cabernet Sauvignon on hillside sites – despite advice at the time not to. Although these plots were harder and more expensive to farm, the quality soon became clear.

The estate consists of 21 acres today, which are all “precision farmed”, as Maya describes it, operating both organically and biodynamically.

Naoko Dalla Valle says they were the first in the Napa Valley to plant above the valley floor, planting vines 100 metres above sea-level on very steep, rocky, iron-rich decomposed andesite and clay loam soils on the far eastern side of the Oakville AVA.

The vineyards are west-facing, giving great sun exposure, while the altitude provides substantial diurnal shifts: Naoko believes this combination of factors is key to the wines’ unique profile.

Their hillside vineyards offer a great variety of soils and microclimates, with different varietals better suited to different plots. After much initial experimentation, the estate found great success with the normally temperamental Cabernet Franc in their ridged vineyards. These ridged vineyards, however, were the source of a serious setback in the late 1990s, when the vines became infected by an oak tree fungus. In 1999 they made the difficult decision to completely replant the vineyard.

They recently completed a full geological study of every vineyard block, with the help of Brenna Quigley, an up-and-coming terroir specialist, deepening their understanding of the vineyards and how to improve them. Steve Matthiasson – one of California’s leading viticulturalists – also consults here.

Following her extensive experience working on some of the leading organic and biodynamic estates in Italy and Bordeaux, Maya has emphasised the importance of organic, sustainable farming, setting out a 50-year program aimed at protecting the long life of their vines. They are also experimenting with deficit water irrigation, encouraging the roots to grow deeper in an attempt to further protect the vines’ longevity.

Maya Dalla Valle is now Director of the winery. She completed a viticulture and oenology degree at Cornell, then went to gain experience around the world – at the likes of Ornellaia, Pétrus, Latour, Canon-la-Gaffelière and La Mondotte – before returning to the family business in 2017.

 She works in the vineyards and winery, where Andy Erickson (ex-Screaming Eagle) heads up the winemaking, as he has done since 2007. While he has retained the long-ageing profile distinct to the wine, he has worked a lot on tannin management, aiming to make the wine more approachable in youth.

The flagship cuvée, Maya, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from Maya’s Vineyard, with the estate’s very best blocks of Cabernet Franc.


Please wait

We are preparing your content...