Nickel & Nickel, in Oakville, was founded in 1997 by the partners who also own the Far Niente and Dolce wineries. The founding principle behind Nickel & Nickel is to make only 100% varietal, single-vineyard wines. As a result the winery creates single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons from six sub appellations including Oakville, St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Rutherford, Stags Leap and Yountville. The producer also makes single-vineyard Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel from vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma. Winemaker Darice Spinelli joined the winery in 1998. Nickel & Nickel’s headquarters is located on a 19th century farmstead where the original 1884 farmhouse serves as the company’s offices.
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.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.