Far Niente

By grace.g.yang ยท January 20, 2016
Under: California,Napa Valley,Travels,Wine

On our first day in Napa, we made a reservation for a wine tour at Far Niente:


The drive to Far Niente was very beautiful – the property borders the some of the vineyards that the Robert Mondavi Vineyards owns. Far Niente spans 13.5 acres, which includes their gardens:


Me and Ken in the outdoor space overlooking Robert Mondavi’s vineyards:


After we took our photos, we walked downstairs to where the wine is made – the story of the Far Niente building and winery are both very interesting – the building was abandoned during prohibition and was basically left alone until the current owners (the Nickel family) purchased it in 1979. For the 60 years the winery was abandoned, the building was used for parties (illegally) and when the Nickel family purchased it in 1979, it needed to be completely rebuilt. They kept the original stones but the interior had to be repaired and remodeled. It also used to have an airport in the front lawn (but that’s been replaced by the gardens since the Nickel family owned a nursery in the midwest prior to moving to Napa).

The caves were made with some dynamite, a hope, and a prayer (the owners decided to build it themselves and were faced with fines from the city after they had used the dynamite and started building it without any permits). Luckily, they obtained the correct permits and finished building the caves where the wine is now stored:


The red barrels denote red wines and these are the chardonnays:


The tanks where the wines are kept – these are currently round but they are planning to update the tanks and make them square for easier cleaning and to stack them next to each other:


There is a room in the caves that contains a lot of nice vintages:


There’s also a small gate for another wine they produce, Dolce, which is a sweet dessert wine that they call “liquid gold”:


We finished the tour of the vineyard with a look at all of the cars the Nickels have collected – they still drive these around town and host parties in the garage:


After walking through the caves and by the garage, we went back to the main building for our wine tasting! You have to make a reservation to go to Far Niente (no walk ins are allowed) because they don’t have the capacity for large groups. You sit at their main table for the wine tasting:


You try all of their wines (two chardonnays, two cabernets and Dolce, their dessert wine):


Ken liked both chardonnays, a “bright” 2014 Estate Bottled and “smooth” 2013 Cave Collection. He was a fan of both Cabernets as well, characterizing the 2011 Cave Collection as “soft” due to the cooler conditions that year and the 2013 Estate Bottled which was “big” and slightly more tannic. We purchased the 2013 because even though it was younger, it had a lot of potential and will be great in 2-5 years (if we can be patient for that long). We finished with the Dolce, which was a very tasty and not as sweet as a typical dessert wine. I really enjoyed the Dolce but thought a bottle might be too much to take home. For our anniversary, we went to Nickel and Nickel, a sister winery with horses in the front lawn. We will definitely be back to Far Niente the next time we’re in Napa and had a great experience, thanks to our hostess, Brittany Nies, who showed us around and told us about the Far Niente history.

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