Sunday, May 03, 2009

Our Favorite Winery Tours

We planned to spread new mulch in the garden beds this morning, but the 70 MPH winds and thunderstorms are keeping us inside. It isn't good weather for gardening but is just right for blogging.

For Chip's birthday last year I bought him a bottle of Nickel & Nickel 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from the John C. Sullenger Vineyard. I wasn't totally sure what it was all about, but the label was beautiful and the reviews I read were good. We decided to tour Nickel & Nickel and its sister winery, Far Niente, while we were in the Napa Valley. These tours did not disappoint! At both of these wineries, history seems reach out and grab you... and then hands you a glass of fantastic wine. If you are interested in the history behind these wineries, please visit Nickel & Nickel here and Far Niente here.

The Nickel & Nickel tour was really informative about producing the wine, and the grounds are just gorgeous. Upon arriving we had a small glass of Chardonnay in the Queen Anne farmhouse built in 1884.

We walked out through the back door and there stood a barn built in 1774 in New Hampshire, then dismantled, shipped, and rebuilt here on the winery grounds in 2003.

Then, we toured the fermentation barns and huge aging cellar that lies under the property.

The entire winery operation runs on solar power capured from these panels.

We ended the tour with a tasting of seven of Nickel & Nickel's single vineyard Cabernets, including the 2005 Sullenger that I bought Chip for his birthday! Isn't that the coolest?! We toured along with four couples from Kansas City. The entire group agreed that the Sullenger was the best of the seven. I also loved the Copper Streak (Stags Leap) Cab.

On Monday, we were both a little sore from the Point Reyes hike, but after the amazing experience at Nickel & Nickel we were really looking forward to Far Niente. It was wonderful!! The gardens at Far Niente were even more spectacular than Nickel & Nickel. The format was similar - winery, cellars, then tasting - but at Far Niente we also had the opportunity to view Gil Nickel's classic car collection. Our guide at Far Niente, Walt, was fantastic. He was so passionate about the the wine and the vineyard.

The fermentation room...
The cellars...

Us in front of the Dolce cage. Dolce is Far Niente's late harvest "noble rot" dessert wine.

Deep in the caves is the Far Niente wine library where every wine produced since the winery began bottling from these vineyards in 1982 is stored.
As the story goes, Gil Nickel bought this 1951 Ferrari 340 America Vignale Spyder for $12,500 and restored it to what you see below. It is now one of only three of this model in the world and is worth $14 million. On the right side of this photo is our guide Walt. He's a dead ringer for Ed Harris.
Our tasting flight with cheese pairings. The Dolce with bleu cheese was my favorite. I can't wait to recreate that pairing at home!


Ginger said...

OMG that is totally my dream trip!! It looks like y'all had such a blast in such a beautiful place!
Love the solar-powered winery!!

challie west said...

I am so jealous. When we decide to go I will definitely need some help planning!

sm2 said...

How wonderful! I'm itching to go now!

Leah Maria said...

Wow! Looks like y'all had a wonderful time. The vineyards looks gorgeous!!

Brian and I have already decided in the new year or so we are going. We will be calling on you for recommendations.

Dirt Princess said...

What an amzaing place. I agree with Ginger, the solar power is quite remarkable. Good for them. The landscape is beautiful.

Casey said...

Love the photos! We'd love to stop by at the end of the month... we still haven't figured out how/when we're getting there but I'll let you know!