Silver Oak: How Green Design At The Highest Level Can Be Stunning and Modern


All photos courtesy Silver Oak except where noted.

Long a Cabernet lover’s dream wine, Silver Oak now has something new to crow about: Becoming potentially the first winery to achieve two LEED Platinum certifications, the very top level for sustainable design. The first certification was awarded in 2015 for their existing Napa Valley production facility and they’re now on track to receive a second for their new Alexander Valley estate. And setting the bar even higher, they also seek the Living Building Challenge, the most rigorous certification combining sustainability with performance. Said owner David Duncan “The LEED Platinum certification process on our Napa Valley winery was a great exercise …. In the new winery, we built upon those lessions starting with the initial design process and at every decision point along the way.”

Located on 113 acres of serene Sonoma landscape, the new buildings designed by SF architect Daniel Piechota of Sagan Piechota are styled in local barn vernacular, set off to accentuate the rolling topography. Exterior walls are clad in salvaged redwood from ca. 1930s wine tanks and insulated with recycled denim.

Piechota perfectly captured the design theme of “framing the vineyard” in the spacious new tasting room surrounded by energy-efficient windows and doors that optimize natural light. While tasting, guests can view the 75 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines that form the core of Silver Oak’s very modern Alexander Valley estate wines.

Interior floor, wall and ceiling panels were sourced from naturally felled local oak while interior spaces are strategically lit with LED lighting.

Photo A. Hanami

Photo A. Hanami

The design of the library, which houses the Duncans’ older wines, was inspired by the inside of a wine barrel. The statement basalt boulder makes a sophisticated table.

The wine production facilities were designed for the upmost energy efficiency. Water-intensive wine production is minimized here through low or no water fixtures while used cellar water is reclaimed via a state-of-the-art Membrane Bioreactor. Rainwater is also collected to irrigate the landscape. Up above, over 2,500 solar panels produce more energy than Silver Oak needs.

Private room for food & wine pairing program. Photo A. Hanami

To see how sustainable design meets stunning and modern wine, Silver Oak Alexander Valley offers public and private tours and tastings ($30-$50 pp), seated tastings ($40 pp) and a new food and wine pairing ($90 pp) with bites prepared by their in-house chef Dominic Orsini. Check the website for availability and to book.


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