Best Wineries
A Napa Valley Original: Far Niente Winery

A Napa Valley Original: Far Niente Winery

By Published On: July 5th, 2022

Sample elegant wines in Far Niente’s lush garden.

Far Niente Winery was founded in 1885 by John Benson, an original California gold rush forty-niner, and named for the Italian phrase “Dolce Far Niente” meaning “sweet to do nothing,” Far Niente stands as a stunning example of Napa Valley’s early winemaking heritage.

One of the region’s original stone wineries, the property was abandoned in 1919 with the onset of Prohibition and was left untouched for 60 years until Gil and Beth Nickel purchased it in 1979 and restored it to its original grandeur.

Today, Far Niente is renowned for its “house style” estate bottled wines, each considered by critics as some of the most consistently excellent wines year after year.

WINE

The concept of house style is based on a thread of similarity that ties every wine together, every vintage.

Though each vintage might be slightly different, the wines have a personality and consistent characteristics that are recognizable. Far Niente keeps it simple by producing only Napa Valley Chardonnay, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, with fruit from their six estate vineyards in Oakville and Coomsbville.

Far Niente Winery Tasting Area
Tasting Area. Photos Courtesy of Far Niente.

HOSPITALITY

Far Niente offers personalized and customizable experiences for its guests, led by professional wine hosts. Options include:  

Estate Tasting: Includes a walk through the historic tri-level winery, as well as a portion of the 40,000 square-foot Far Niente wine aging caves. The 60-minute tasting-only experience includes samples of the newest vintages alongside hand-selected wines from Far Niente’s family of wineries. $90/pp.

Estate Tour & Tasting: An intimate, 90-minute glimpse into the stories behind the wines, wine caves, and tri-level stone winery. A seated tasting of current release wines includes their sumptuous late harvest wine Dolce. $125/pp. A Private Large Group Tour & Tasting offers the same for 7 to 16 at $150/pp. 

Cave Collection Library Wine Tasting: This 60-minute experience focuses on Far Niente’s Library Wines, allowing guests to taste both the current release Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, alongside the extremely limited Cave Collection wines. $250/pp

Private Live Video Tasting: Price varies per experience.

Sip and Stroll at Far Niente Winery
Sip and Stroll at Far Niente Winery. Photos Courtesy of Far Niente.

GARDENS

Far Niente’s beautiful Acacia Drive entrance and the estate’s 13 acres of lush gardens are considered among the most stunning landscapes in Napa. Every spring, the property is carpeted  with thousands of azalea blooms in shades of red and pink.

The Nickels, each of whom had a family background in landscaping, began developing the gardens in 1982.

Beautiful entrance
Beautiful entrance. Photos Courtesy of Far Niente.

The entry drive is bordered on either side with more than 100 Autumn Gold ginkgo trees and ends at the winery gates under a canopy of towering redwoods, acacias, dogwoods and century-old cork oak trees.

Delicate ferns and fragrant alyssum share the grounds with trees including Japanese maple, Japanese snowbell, lion’s head maple, Chinese fringe and saucer magnolia. The winery itself is draped in colorful Virginia Creeper. 

SUSTAINABILITY

Far Niente switched to 100% solar self-powering in 2008, with energy produced by the winery’s revolutionary “FloatovoltaicTM” system that floats nearly 1000 panels on the Martin Stelling Vineyard’s irrigation pond, the first-ever, large-scale, grid-connected solar installation in the world.

Complimentary practices include sustainable and organic farming, recycling and other environmentally responsible measures. 

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