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Far Niente Wine Estates Acquires Prestigious Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard

Located in the Rutherford Bench, this is the first vineyard the company has purchased since San Francisco-based private equity firm GI Partners invested in Far Niente Wine Estates in June 2016

Napa Valley, CA, June 21, 2017 – Far Niente Wine Estates, the company that includes Far Niente and sister wineries Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, EnRoute and Bella Union, has acquired a 60-acre Napa Valley vineyard planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon. Located in the Rutherford Bench, this is the first vineyard the company has purchased since San Francisco-based private equity firm GI Partners invested in Far Niente Wine Estates in June 2016.

Planted between 2009 and 2015, the parcel is situated west of State Route 29 and is adjacent to the famous Bosché vineyard, one of the sites that helped develop the Napa Valley’s worldwide reputation for preeminence in Cabernet winegrowing.

“Cabernet Sauvignon has played a major part in our winemaking program since Far Niente’s first Cabernet vintage in 1982. We are extremely pleased to have added such a fine vineyard to our Napa Valley Cabernet holdings. I’m confident it will make an outstanding single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon addition to the Nickel & Nickel portfolio,” said Dirk Hampson, chairman and director of winemaking.


About Far Niente Wine Estates 
Far Niente was established in Oakville, CA in 1885 and prospered until the onset of Prohibition in 1919, when the winery ceased operation and the estate was abandoned. Sixty years later, in 1979, the old stone shell of a winery underwent a three-year renovation, which restored the building to its original, 19th century grandeur. During restoration the name, “Far Niente,” which romantically translated means “without a care” was found carved in stone on the front of the building.

Far Niente helped create the high-end Napa Valley wine market and has served as the benchmark wine estate for more than three decades. Dolce, the only North American winery devoted to a single-late harvest Napa Valley wine was introduced in 1989. Nickel & Nickel, launched in 1997, is focused on producing single-vineyard, 100 percent varietal, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. EnRoute, established in 2007 in the Russian River Valley, is dedicated to the appellation’s Pinot Noir. Most recently Bella Union, devoted to Napa Valley Cabernet and located along Bella Oaks Lane in Rutherford, introduced its first wine with the 2012 vintage. Together with Vinescape, its vineyard management arm, the wineries comprise Far Niente Wine Estates.

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Far Niente was founded in 1885 by John Benson, a forty-niner of the California gold rush and uncle of the famous American impressionist painter, Winslow Homer. Benson hired architect Hamden McIntyre, creator of the former Christian Brothers winery—now the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone—to design the building. Constructed against a hillside in western Oakville, Far Niente functioned as a gravity flow winery, gently moving the grapes through each stage of production.


Far Niente prospered until the onset of Prohibition in 1919, when it was abandoned and left to fall into disrepair. Sixty years later, in 1979, Gil Nickel purchased the winery and adjacent vineyard and began a three-year restoration of the property, which resulted in placement on the National Register of Historical Places. During restoration, the original name, Far Niente, from an Italian phrase that romantically translated means “without a care,” was found carved in stone on the front of the building where it remains to this day. We felt an obligation to preserve the name with the hope that we could recapture a bygone era when life was indeed without a care.


Nineteen eighty-two marked the return of winemaking to Far Niente, with the harvest of the winery’s first Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay was also produced at the winery for the first time that year; the 1979, ’80 and ’81 vintage wines were made at an offsite location. Today, the winery continues to focus on producing only the two varietal wines.

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We believe in the value of vineyard ownership as a means of producing wines of exceptional quality, distinctive character and consistency year after year.


The ability to make autonomous decisions about the vineyards provides the winemaking team with a great amount of control and flexibility, while ensuring the high quality care of the vines. Far Niente owns 300 vineyard acres located in some of the most coveted regions of the Napa Valley, including:


The Martin Stelling Vineyard

Far Niente’s largest vineyard is located behind the winery against the western hills of Oakville. The vineyard is named for Martin Stelling, the previous owner of the land, who presided over what was reputed to be the largest fine wine vineyard in the world, comprising over 5000 acres in the Napa Valley. Unfortunately, Mr. Stelling died before he was able to make wine from his holdings, and it fell to his son, Doug, to plant the vineyard in 1978. Today, the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot on some of the most beautiful, gravelly loam soil in the Napa Valley. Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon is the only wine that has ever been produced from the Stelling Vineyard. The site borders other notable Oakville vineyards, including Martha’s Vineyard, the Mondavi Reserve blocks and Harlan Estate.


John C. Sullenger Vineyard

Acquired in 1998, this Oakville vineyard is located on the east side of Highway 29, directly north of Opus One, and across the road from the Robert Mondavi To-Kalon vineyard. While this vineyard estate is the home of the Nickel & Nickel winery, it also supplies some of the fruit for the Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard produces wines with a delicate grace, structure and elegance typical of the area.


Barrow Lane Vineyard

In pursuit of distinctive Chardonnay vineyards, the Far Niente partners discovered two wonderful parcels in a little-known area of the cooler, southern Napa Valley known as Coombsville. This 18-acre vineyard, located at the base of the hills east of the city of Napa, offers the characteristic climate of Carneros, with a few key differences. It enjoys the cool influence from the San Pablo Bay, but claims deeper, well-drained, volcanic soils and less wind. This gently sloping vineyard with its western exposure produces wines with a tighter fruit structure than the rich, full-bodied wines from the Martin Stelling Vineyard. The wines have proven to be an ideal blending component, providing the desired backbone and length.


John’s Creek Vineyard

Located less than a half-mile north of Barrow Lane Vineyard in Coombsville, on a slight incline at the base of the eastern hills, the 50-acre John’s Creek Vineyard is key to the Far Niente Chardonnay blend. The deep, gravelly loam soil and the vineyard’s southwestern exposure, account for the fruit ripening a full two weeks earlier than Barrow Lane. The resulting aromas and flavors add wonderful components of richness and subtle tropical fruit nuances that have long been associated with Far Niente Chardonnay.


Carpenter Vineyard

This Coombsville vineyard, adjacent to John’s Creek and situated at the base of the Vaca mountain range, supplied some of the Cabernet Sauvignon that went into the Far Niente Cabernet blend until 2001, when Far Niente became 100% Oakville Estate. In 2003, Carpenter began contributing Chardonnay to the Far Niente Chardonnay blend. The soils are composed of deep, volcanic, gravelly loam, with good drainage. Cool growing conditions, fog which hangs over the vineyard until midmorning, and a generally temperate climate allow for the grapes’ slow ripening and long hang time. The growing conditions help to produce wines of wonderful depth and cool character.

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We strive to be ecologically friendly in all aspects of operations at our wineries. In 2008, Far Niente went solar in a revolutionary way with our Floatovoltaic™ system, becoming the first in the world to float a significant, grid-connected solar installation. Along with sister winery Nickel & Nickel, we are solar powered, net-zero users of electricity who annually produce more energy than we consume. All our vineyards are organically farmed; vineyard irrigation and frost protection use collected process water from winery operations. Lastly, we continue to recycle extensively at all our wineries.


“We will always be committed first and foremost to producing great wines; it’s what we’ve been doing for over 25 years,” says Larry Maguire, winery partner, President and CEO. “Yet, we recognize that our environment is facing significant challenges, and as an agriculture-based business we have an obligation to do our part and take sustainable measures.”

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Inside information

The Far Niente winery is surrounded by 13 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, thought by many to be among the most stunning landscapes in the Napa Valley. Described as “southern” in style, with an emphasis on texture and foliage, the highlight of the Far Niente gardens are the thousands of southern azaleas that bloom every spring, carpeting the estate in brilliant hues of bright red and deep pink. It is said to be the largest single planting of this particular variety of azalea in California, and possibly throughout all of the west coast. At the height of bloom, colorful patches of azaleas are visible from a mile away on Highway 29.


Gil Nickel and his wife, Beth, who revived Far Niente in the late 1970s began developing the gardens in 1982, after completing a three-year restoration of the historic winery building. Designing and implementing the gardens was a natural for Gil, who with his brother, John, successfully ran the family’s Greenleaf Nursery in Oklahoma, growing the business to become the second largest privately held commercial nursery in the United States today.


The gardens were designed like a three-act play, building the drama with each sequence. Acacia Drive, which is the road leading to the winery gates, sets the scene. The gently curved allee, bordered on either side with more than 100 Autumn Gold ginkgo trees, offers serene views of the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards of western Oakville.


Acacia Drive ends at the Woodland Garden, which begins near the winery gates. Groves of towering redwoods, acacias, dogwoods and century-old cork oak trees create an enclosed canopy around the gates and along the front driveway. After passing through the gates, the drama builds along the shaded road.


Stately and resplendent, the historic stone winery emerges like a mirage at the end of the drive through the Woodland Garden, reaching the crescendo of the play. Lined with olive trees along the front drive and cloaked in colorful Virginia Creeper, the winery stands unguarded, its beauty appreciable from every angle.


The gardens surrounding the winery offer many intricate details. Hand-shaped and fitted flagstone stairs and pathways traverse the winery grounds, and quaint stone bridges cross over the ponds, adding dimension to the estate. A retaining wall that supports the olive trees in front of the winery was built more than a century ago by Chinese laborers. Today, delicate ferns and fragrant alyssum grow from the nooks between the stones. The gardens are also home to a number of specimen trees, including Japanese maple, Japanese snowbell, lion’s head maple, Chinese fringe and saucer magnolia.

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 Far Niente  has news

Far Niente Wine Estates Acquires Prestigious Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard Located in the Ruth  more ...

3m 27d ago

 Michael Jones, Wine Blogger (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Far Niente . In a tasting of  5 wines 

There is no better way to start the evening than being handed a chilled glass of 2002 Dom Perignon as you come in the door! This iconic champagne set the tone for the evening- a harmonious blend of subtle apple flavors surrounded by bread dough and citrus notes. Long and lively finish. I noticed that the wine seemed to have added "weight" from its earlier days following release- this glass had a more serious presence on the palate. Approaching its 10th birthday, the wine is really showing its pedigree. Absolutely beautiful!

9m 7d ago

 Kate Bell / Sommelier, Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Far Niente . In a tasting of  23 wines 

Napa Premiere 2014 vintage tasting / In spite of the drought and the South Napa earthquake, vintners are using words like “quality,” “depth of flavor” and “excellent” to describe their expectations for the 2014 vintage in Napa Valley. Many are also noting “perfect weather,” “abundant crop” and “good fortune” among the blessings they are counting in a season where Mother Nature threw a rockin’ curveball.

Harvest started and ended earlier than usual. The first grapes for sparkling wine picked on July 30 and nearly all harvest activity was completed by the third week in October – for many, a full two weeks ahead of the normal harvest schedule.

10m 4d ago

 Michel Jamais, Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Far Niente . In a tasting of  9 wines 

“When I first heard of the white wine from Screaming Eagle, I was quite surprised. Although I know that some parts of Napa Valley can produce world class wines from Sauvignon Blanc (or at least, as good as a wine from Sauvignon Blanc outside Bordeaux can be), I couldn't imagine that Screaming Eagle would ever make one.

"Well, when we studied the vineyard, we knew we had to replant it in a much better way, we couldn't just continue to make the wine in the same way as Jean Phillips and her winemaker Heidi Peterson-Barrett did, we had the worlds eyes on us", he said to me a few weeks ago.
"And we found a spot in the northwestern corner of our vineyard, that I found to be much better suited for Sauvignon Blanc than Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc, and Merlot actually doesn't perform very well in our vineyard", he added.
The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were never intended to be a commercial wine, if they ever should make it themselves, and if so, I was to be used for PR tastings and dinners, and as a giveaway.
But with the 2010 vintage, the now sole owner Stanley Kroenke, decided to sell it on the mailing list. It's now even more rare and sought after than the red Screaming Eagle. And it is of course the talk of the day since very people have tasted it, or even seen a bottle or a picture of a bottle. ”

1y 7m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / Best Sommelier in the World 1998, MW (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Far Niente . In a tasting of  6 wines 

“Visiting friends is always a pleasure. If this friend is an extraordinary wine collector, the pleasure is even greater. During a dinner at the Gourmet Restaurant of the Einstein Hotel at Sankt Gallen, wine collector Ernst Manser presented an eclectic choice of wines, absolutely blind of course. The blind tasting was not easy as Ernst Manser's cellar presents ideal ageing conditions, a fact proven by the youthful character of all the wines tasted during that evening. ”

1y 8m ago

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