26 2012on January
at 3:46 pm
Far Niente has been fully solar powered since May 2008, and just this past week President and CEO Larry Maguire received a welcome reminder of one of the many benefits of going solar. Read about it in his latest blog post.
In 2005, shortly after purchasing my new BMW, I asked my son why he hadn’t asked to take the car out for a test drive. He paused for a minute and then said, “Dad, you are worse than the ignorant.” My 19-year-old son saw the perplexed, irritated look on my face and he then said, “You know better and you have chosen inaction.” All through high school he had been lecturing me about the end of the age of oil and the issues of global climate change. Now, after his first semester of college, he came home for winter break and articulated a searing indictment that stung to the core. He had accused me of simply patronizing him for years when I pretended to understand and support the need for change. Ah, the worst type of criticism, I had become a hypocrite.
It was, indeed, time for a change. Within two years of that moment Far Niente became solar powered. We’ve been proud of our commitment to clean energy here at Far Niente and at our sister winery, Nickel & Nickel. This week a tangible reminder of our commitment arrived on my desk. I had to sign a check issued to PG&E for the two years of power usage that exceeded our own solar power generation. That check is posted here: $4.72.
Despite the fact that we generated more power than we could use, you know PG&E had to find a way to charge us something! Nonetheless, I’m very proud of our project and highly recommend solar power as an energy solution. It’s been great for us.
As for that BMW, it’s still my principle vehicle and I’m sticking with it but looking forward to test driving BMW’s soon-to-be-released all electric car.
Tags: Larry Maguire
19 2012on January
at 4:28 pm
Landscape Designer Daniel Townsend shares the reward and satisfaction of composting at Far Niente.
We are deep into our frigid winter with mid- to low-20s, cold for the Napa Valley. I see a plume of steam on our compost pile. I investigate and find that our pressure cooker beneath the mound is a comfortable 82 degrees Fahrenheit, nearing the end of the cook cycle.
We compost most everything from our gardens and winery, using all of the leaf litter from the woodland gardens, grass clippings, wood chips, and grape harvest materials, such as seeds and stems, must or pumice, and grape vine cuttings. We make about 150 yards of compost a year here in the Far Niente gardens. It is very rewarding to sink your hands into this black gold and to be able to introduce this back into the gardens, coming full circle again and again.
12 2012on January
at 1:58 pm
Winemakers are scientists at heart, as Winemaker Nicole Marchesi reveals in our latest blog post.
I have a secret to share about winemakers. We’re really not as cool as you think we are. Deep down we’re just a bunch of geeks. Ok, so maybe we’re a bunch of geeks who have the really cool job of making wine.
Tasting wine and making blends is not the only thing that excites us. Graphs and charts and statistical analysis get us going too. A perfectly straight standard curve can be almost as alluring that first sip of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon. Our Chardonnay looks almost as tempting in an Erlenmeyer flask as it does in a broad Burgundy wine glass. Almost. While the science behind winemaking is not quite as pleasing as enjoying the finished product, it is still allows our inner geeks to have a lot of fun!
Allow me to elaborate. Recently, my fellow winemaker, Greg, and I were in the lab with our enologist huddled around her computer screen. We were discussing the standard curve calibration for an enzymatic assay to measure malic acid (read: words, words, science, words, math, more science, etc.). One of us made a comment about the concentration of one of the standards, and all three of us burst out laughing. (It was funny, I swear!) A member of our hospitality team happened to walk by the lab and asked what was so funny. He looked at the computer screen and said, “Oh…numbers.” Yep, we’re geeks.
Tags: Nicole Marchesi
At a time when resolutions are all around us, we’re keeping to the same resolution we’ve made for years: to continue making great wine—and to have fun doing it!
What do we have planned for 2012? Beyond tending the vineyards, keeping busy in the cellar, maintaining the historic stone winery and greeting the guests that visit us each day, we have a year full of great events planned. First up: the much-anticipated annual Cabernet release day on Saturday, February 4. (Click here for details.)
For those of you who haven’t joined us for Cab Release Day in the past, the event marks the official release of our newest, 2009 vintage. It’s also a spectacular showcase of our Cave Collection Cabernets. You are greeted with a glass of Far Niente Chardonnay before you enter the barrel-lined caves. Tucked along the passages you’ll find stations where Cave Collection vintages and, of course, our new release, are served. Winemaker Nicole Marchesi is also on hand to pour tastes of the vintage currently aging in barrel—we’re looking forward to seeing how the 2010 Far Niente Cab is developing! And be sure to say hello to Proprietress Beth Nickel and President and CEO Larry Maguire who will be mingling at the event.
Throughout your journey through the caves, Chef Trevor Eliason and his team will bring delicious bites from the kitchen. Your experience is capped with Dolce and an array of sweets as well as the opportunity to purchase your favorite wines. No matter the weather, the elegance of the caves, the warm atmosphere and wonderful wines make for a beautiful day.
We hope you are having a great start to the year and that we will see you soon!
20 2011on December
at 2:06 pm
In our last blog post of 2011, Larry Maguire, President and CEO, pays tribute to a friendship that has stood the test of time.
Two weeks ago at our annual holiday party one of our staff members snapped this picture of Dirk and me. I couldn’t help but think back on the nearly 30 years that Dirk and I have been working together.
When I arrived on Valentine’s Day 1983, to be the sales and marketing director for Gil and Beth, Dirk was the assistant winemaker. At that time, Gil maintained the title of winemaker, and we had a consultant winemaker who guided them both.
It would have been impossible for me to have envisioned the picture above. Since the first holiday party where Dirk and I celebrated, our company has grown from six employees with one winery to 120 employees, four wineries and a vineyard company. Of course, none of this could have happened without the incredible employees with whom we celebrated that day.
In this photo you can see the smile between two great friends who have been working together virtually their entire adult lives. Perhaps you can also see the glint in the eyes that suggest someone is just getting ready to jab the other with a one-liner. So it goes. I’m sure you can imagine that back in 1983, Dirk and I had significantly more hair. It’s probably not necessary to point out that what I still have is black!
A behind-the-scenes peek at Far Niente and the fine Cabernet and Chardonnay we produce here in Oakville.
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