17 2011on August
at 11:31 am
What pairs with the month of August? How about Cabernet! We know, you’re probably more likely to reach for Cab in cool weather, but at sister winery Nickel & Nickel, Cabernet is on the mind all year long—especially in August, with the release of the newest vintage.
You couldn’t have asked for a better day to introduce all 13 of Nickel & Nickel’s 2008 Single-Vineyard Cabernets. This past Saturday we welcomed guests on the sunlit crushpad, and the cool cellar below offered a marvelous backdrop for tasting these newly released wines. (Take a look at a few pictures from the party on the Nickel & Nickel Facebook page.)
The 2008 vintage is showing incredibly ripe fruit flavors and fine, mouthwatering tannins, and tasting through the 13 Cabernets from vineyards across the Napa Valley proved a fascinating—and enjoyable—education in the individual expressions of each vineyard. If you missed the party, stop by the winery for a tour and tasting—Nickel & Nickel has just begun pouring the 2008 Cabs!
Cheers to a great, new vintage!
12 2011on August
at 12:38 pm
Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel Landscape Designer Daniel Townsend relies on more than his skills and a top team of landscapers for beautiful gardens.
The buzz around the grounds is good news to my ears. The hives are in full production now and the gardens show it. We have been blessed with a healthy brood for the past seven years, encouraging them to feast on the flora. The bees dance throughout the winery estate gardens touching on nearly every blossom morning till night. There is not a moment to rest knowing winter is only a few months away and fall is just around the corner. Another summer of maturity and growth carries us into the future thanks to the many hands of nature. Get your buzz on… and eat your honey daily!
Far Niente Chardonnay at the height of summer? Why, yes please! You probably saw the invitation to the upcoming Chardonnay Celebration on our Facebook page—or, if you’re a wine club member, in your inbox. (In case you missed both, click here for details on how to join us on August 13!) If you’ve been to this event in past years you know what a treat it is to relax at the Cabernet Grill under the cork oaks, sipping Chardonnay and talking with friends.
Delicious bites from the kitchen have always been featured at the Chardonnay Celebration, and this year we have an extra special guest chef—Chef Robert Curry from the Michelin-starred Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil!
Gorgeous wines, delicious food, great people—all in a beautiful setting—make this, well, a celebration! We can’t wait to see you.
14 2011on June
at 9:23 am
Director of Winemaking Dirk Hampson stops by to tell us a little about what vintners in the northern hemisphere worry about this time of year: shatter.
I happen to love this time of year. The scent of grape flowers is all over the place. Grape flowers aren’t showy but have a subtle and lovely perfume that I like to sniff just for the pleasure of it. Our vineyards are going through flowering right now. Actually, most vines have finished flowering– Chardonnay first and Cabernet later–and we are getting a look at what our crop size this year will be.
I knew what “shatter” was when I was a kid. That was what happened when my brother launched a ball at my head but hit the bathroom window instead. (He blamed the resulting shattered glass on me for moving my head.) In grapevines, “shatter” is a term for when all of the unfertilized flowers fall off the rachis (cluster stem). It’s kind of cool to run your hand gently down a cluster and watch the flowers fall off. But, all of those that fall off aren’t going to become grapes or, eventually, wine.
While we haven’t been assaulted by tornadoes, tsunamis or massive wildfires, this spring did receive unusual amounts of rain and cool temperatures here in the Napa Valley. As you know, the weather in the spring and throughout the growing season affects the size of the crop and how late harvest may occur. (I was hoping for an early harvest … If you are planning a harvest trip to the winery, late September and October may be the answer this year.) The vines actually prefer moderately warm, dry and calm conditions, which we have now. But the recent weeks of cool, windy and wet conditions have increased the likelihood of shatter. Well, that’s farming for you, and good things can still happen with unusual conditions!
26 2011on May
at 9:08 am
In this guest blog post, Viticulturist Aaron Fishleder talks cover crops—one of an organic farmer’s most important tools!
Come springtime, there are more than grapes growing in our vineyards. In fact, if you’ve got a gardener’s eye, you’ll spot various vegetables and flowering plants growing between the vine rows. More than a source for your next salad or just a pretty view, these plants actually do a lot to get our soils—and vines—ready for a great harvest. Using these cover crops is one of the more important aspects of our organic farming program.
We use these extra crops for a variety of reasons, but the most important is to improve organic matter and nutrition in the soil. Plants such as bell beans, peas, vetch, and barley use seasonal rainfall and nitrogen from the atmosphere to grow and add biomass. Incorporating this blend into the soil adds nutrients important for vine development and increases beneficial microorganisms that help the grapes mine nutrients from the soil that would otherwise be difficult to pull out on their own.
Cover crops are also a great way to control pest problems in the vineyard. White sweet alyssum, California bluebell, and California poppy are three of the more than ten flowering plant species we plant to attract beneficial insects to our blocks. Since we started using this blend in 2007, the populations of problem insects have dropped off significantly. Radish and mustard are used to help control nematodes, a microscopic worm that feeds on grape roots—a common problem in many vineyards. When these plants are mowed and disked into the ground, they act as a biofumigant and release a gas that kills the pests.
So the next time you’re in the valley in spring, take a look around you and know that the bright yellow mustard, red clover, orange poppy and spiky, green barley plants are doing more than adding to the natural beauty of this region—they’re helping keep our vines healthy and resilient. And, as we know, healthy vines produce wonderful wine!
A behind-the-scenes peek at Far Niente and the fine Cabernet and Chardonnay we produce here in Oakville.