Far Niente, in Oakville, Napa Valley, was founded in 1885 by John Benson, who ran it until Prohibition in 1919, when he abandoned the winery. In 1979 Gil Nickel, an Oklahoma nursery owner, purchased the 250-acre estate. Today the estate is still owned by the Nickel family. The second generation has also started other wine enterprises in the Napa Valley, including Dolce, producer of a late harvest wine, and Nickel & Nickel, which produces small-lot, single-vineyard wines. Far Niente produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Oakville AVA is one of the two or three most prestigious appellations in the United States. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, its 5,000 vineyard acres produce some of the world’s most acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon, including such California “cult” Cabs as Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. Before those boutique producers rose to fame in the 1990s, Oakville was already renowned as home to Robert Mondavi, Opus One and Groth Vineyards, among others. Along with the famous wineries, there are premier vineyards in this AVA, including Martha’s Vineyard and To Kalon Vineyard. To Kalon was first planted in 1868 by H.W. Crabb, one of California’s first viticultural researchers, and he named the vineyard after the ancient Greek phrase for “most beautiful.” Though many grapes can be successfully grown in Oakville, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. Merlot and Chardonnay are also frequently planted. Oakville Cabs are prized for their richness, complexity and weight. Oakville was designated as an AVA in 1993.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.