Venge Vineyards is in Calistoga, Napa Valley. It is owned by Kirk Venge, whose family emigrated from Denmark four generations ago. Originally in wine and spirits importing, the family became winemakers in the 1960s, when Kirk’s father Nils studied viticulture at the University of California at Davis. By the 1970s Nils was producing wine in the Oakville district of Napa Valley. He started Saddleback Cellars and became one of the valley’s leading winemakers. In 2008 the family sold their physical winery to the Foley Wine Group, although the Venge family kept the rights to the Venge name. Since then Kirk Venge has been producing Venge Vineyards wines in limited quantities. Most are Cabernet Sauvignons that earn high compliments from reviewers.
Oakville AVA is one of the two or three most prestigious appellations in the United States. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, its 5,000 vineyard acres produce some of the world’s most acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon, including such California “cult” Cabs as Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. Before those boutique producers rose to fame in the 1990s, Oakville was already renowned as home to Robert Mondavi, Opus One and Groth Vineyards, among others. Along with the famous wineries, there are premier vineyards in this AVA, including Martha’s Vineyard and To Kalon Vineyard. To Kalon was first planted in 1868 by H.W. Crabb, one of California’s first viticultural researchers, and he named the vineyard after the ancient Greek phrase for “most beautiful.” Though many grapes can be successfully grown in Oakville, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. Merlot and Chardonnay are also frequently planted. Oakville Cabs are prized for their richness, complexity and weight. Oakville was designated as an AVA in 1993.