Deep in the heart of California’s Napa Valley lies Nickel & Nickel, a winery devoted to creating eclectic single-vineyard, single-varietal Californian fine wines. Established by the partners of Far Niente in 1997, Nickel & Nickel’s portfolio of wine focuses primarily on Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, alongside single-varietal Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Although the winery was founded in 1997, the story that led to its creation begins over a century before.
The Nickel Family & Far Niente
The Nickel family is at the heart of Nickel & Nickel wine, a passion project that stemmed from the successes of their first Napa Valley winery – Far Niente.
Situated in Oakville, the home of Napa Valley Cabernet, Far Niente is one of California’s oldest wineries. Founded in 1885 by John Benson, the estate thrived as a successful winery for the following four decades. Sadly, the onset of prohibition halted this prosperity, and Far Niente was forced to shut its doors in 1919, remaining closed for the next sixty years. In 1979, the historic property was purchased by Gilliland ‘Gil’ Nickel, and his wife Beth, with the goal of reviving the dormant winery and neighbouring vineyard. Today, Far Niente is recognised as a benchmark producer of Napa Valley fine wines, with their Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blends and estate Chardonnays lauded across the globe.
Following the successes of Far Niente, and a rise in global interest in vineyard-designated wines, Gil Nickel and his partners founded Nickel & Nickel winery in 1997 with the purpose of producing single-vineyard, single-varietal fine wines. Gil sadly passed away in October 2003 after a brave battle with cancer, however, his legacy lives on across Napa Valley today.
Nickel & Nickel Winery
In the heart of Oakville, just a short drive north of Far Niente, you’ll find Nickel & Nickel. The property was built in the 19th Century by John C. Sullenger and is situated on a 42-acre vineyard site that neighbours some of Napa Valley's biggest names, including the wineries of Robert Mondavi and Opus One. Beautifully restored by the Nickels, Sullenger House is surrounded by vines, historic barns, and is home to a 30,000 square-foot subterranean barrel-ageing cellar.
A distinct departure from the flagship estate blends of its older sibling, Nickel & Nickel's single-varietal wines showcase the unique character that individual vineyards across Napa Valley and Sonoma County possess. The winery explores how distinct geography, climate, and soil create distinct and intriguing wines. Although Cabernet Sauvignon makes up much of the yearly production, Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Syrah are all on the menu. Unlike many wineries, Nickel & Nickel’s own staff harvest and manage each of their vineyard site holdings. This in-house approach provides quality control that has been integral to their success.
Collection of Nickel & Nickel's single-vineyard wines.
Nickel & Nickel's first release was from the 1997 vintage, offering six distinct wines. Today, this list has grown to a portfolio of over 45 single-vineyard wines, with the majority being Cabernet Sauvignon. See below a list of Nickel & Nickel’s current core single-vineyard offerings (please note this list is not extensive but provides a snapshot of core wines):
Nickel & Nickel's current core single-vineyard offerings (June 2023, Source: Wine Auctioneer, Info: www.nickelandnickel.farniente.com)
Should you add Nickel & Nickel to your wine cellar?
With a portfolio of over 45 wines, there is a breadth of diversity within the Nickel & Nickel offerings. The nature of single-vineyard expressions means that production numbers vary greatly, and bottles can often be hard to come by, especially when demand is high.
One release from Nickel & Nickel stands out from the rest and contrasts their regular ethos – the 2004 vintage ‘Lightning Strike’ release. Rumoured to have been a ‘mistake’ by the estate's winemaker, this bottling isn’t a single-varietal or single-vineyard wine, but instead a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Syrah (15%). An accidental marriage of grapes from the Martin Stelling vineyard and Darien vineyard resulted in a unique wine that was made available only at the winery. Not well-known at the time, this has since become a must-have for many Nickel & Nickel collectors.
Wine Auctioneer offers a collection of Nickel & Nickel wines at auction for the first time this June, showcasing ten expressions of single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from sites located across Napa Valley. The auction ends on Monday 12th June, please follow this link to bid now.