This advertising content was produced in collaboration with our partner, Far Niente.
In 1885 John Benson got lucky. Very, very lucky. A wealthy San Francisco financier involved in real estate and mining, he used his fortune to purchase a site in 1871 and fulfill his dream of building a large stone winery in the heart of Napa Valley. He probably never imagined it would become the site of a Cabernet Sauvignon legacy over 135 years later, but Far Niente Wine Estates continues to build a portfolio of Cabernets that will stand the test of time and consumer tastes.
With a group of brands that has perpetually bucked of-the-moment trends in exchange for time-honored traditions and devotion to Cabernet, Far Niente Wine Estates’ tightly focused portfolio of Cabernets manages to deliver not only a range of distinctive and terroir-driven Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, but delivers them across the price spectrum.
“We have a long history of being learners and have collaborated with winemakers like Craig Williams and Thomas Rivers Brown to continue understanding the art of Cabernet Sauvignon,” says Kate McManus, vice president of marketing. “We want to grow in the right way, which in our eyes means simply getting better every day and every vintage.”
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Today, the group is building a legacy around world-class Cabernet Sauvignon by remaining focused on their flagship grape to offer Cabernet enthusiasts and novices alike a taste of Napa Valley’s signature red.
Embracing A Classical Estate Model With Far Niente
Modeled after historic Bordeaux estates, Far Niente built its sterling reputation by crafting a single Cabernet Sauvignon each year beginning in 1982, spotlighting the intricacies of each vintage in the glass.
“Our winemaking philosophy centers around texture and structure,” explains Andrew Delos, Far Niente Wine Estates’ vice president of winemaking, who has worked with the Far Niente team since 2000. “We often describe our winemaking process as continually adding layers to the backbone of the wine.”
Rooted in the gravelly terroir of Oakville’s Western Bench, Far Niente Winery’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon embodies a classic Napa Valley style. “The 2021 Far Niente Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is showing exceptionally well. We see some progression that expands to the palate with a bright finish and flavor profiles of dark cherries, plums, and dried herbs,” says Delos of the current release. “While this was a dry year with limited yields, the resulting clusters have more concentration of flavors, leading to a vintage that will age beautifully.”
Delving into the Details Through Nickel & Nickel
While Far Niente’s focus steadily increased the team’s understanding of their own terroir, it likewise inspired Far Niente Wine Estates to widen their Cabernet lens.
“We decided that it was time to refine our expertise in Cabernet by exploring single-vineyard, single-varietal production, at the time a very innovative idea for Cabernet Sauvignon,” says Delos. In 1997, Nickel & Nickel was born to serve that pursuit, delivering close-up portraits of special sites across the valley. The first winery dedicated solely to producing single-site Cabernets, Nickel & Nickel now produces 19 single-site wines.
“It’s really uncommon in Napa for a winery to have access to so many vineyard sites and to treat each of them with an individualized approach from vineyard to cellar,” says Delos, noting Nickel & Nickel boasts an independent winemaking team dedicated to vinifying each lot as a specific wine. “Each of these wines represents the terroirs of the vineyards they come from and they are all uniquely different.”
Nickel & Nickel provides a counterpoint to the Far Niente estate model—giving the Far Niente Wine Estates team a far-reaching understanding of the valley’s nuances. “Each of our wineries has different winemaking processes to match their own style for consumers,” adds Delos.
The 2021 Nickel & Nickel Sullenger Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon deftly expresses the spirit of the season with classic Oakville tannins and a firm, powerful structure. “The 2021 has been considered one of the best vintages in the last decade in Napa Valley, and we’re seeing a great amount of balance between fresh acidity, fruit, and tannins,” says Delos.
Post & Beam and Bella Union Broadens Access to Napa Valley
As the trend toward cult bottlings and hyper-exclusive Napa Valley releases accelerated, it would have been easy for Far Niente Wine Estates to double-down on its portfolio of luxury wines as many established estates did. Instead, the team recommitted itself to sharing the valley’s singular terroirs, welcoming a broad and diverse range of drinkers.
“Our Cabernet styles differ to align with the style a buyer or consumer is looking for, meaning the opportunities for enjoyment extend beyond a few sips or just one glass during a special occasion,” says McManus. “This is only possible because of the 300+ acres of vineyards we own across different Napa AVAs and the quality of those vineyards.”
In 2012 Bella Union was launched, followed by Post & Beam in 2020, to bring Far Niente’s passion for Cabernet Sauvignon to a wider audience, relying on grapes from estate-owned vineyards and partner growers.
“Expansion is always an exciting goal for any business but when it comes to Far Niente Wine Estates, quality is our primary focus,” says McManus. “We’ve always seen ourselves as stewards of the land, and the main goal is simply to be better in our winemaking and in expressing each individual winery’s identity.”
Bella Union, whose tasting room is set to open in summer 2024, celebrates the “beautiful union” of the mastery and artistry of winemaking by showcasing the different expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon in a fashion after Far Niente. Rooted in Rutherford, the wines demonstrate Napa Valley’s classic balance of ripeness and structure, leading to wines that are easy to drink now yet maintain an ability to age. With dark plum, cherry, and hints of spice on the nose, the 2021 Bella Union Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon delivers Napa’s classic style and elegance.
“Just as our portfolio is diverse, we also have diversified the vineyards we source our wines from, selecting from excellent vineyards throughout the Valley,” says Delos, adding that Far Niente Wine Estates partners with vineyards in almost every Napa Valley AVA to acquire fruit ideal for blending and single appellation wines.
Post & Beam, named for the traditional barns that dot the Napa landscape, likewise crafts wines that pay homage to time-honored winemaking practices. Channeling Far Niente’s decades of experience in Cabernet Sauvignon production, Post & Beam wines combine an intimate understanding of Napa’s varied terroirs to deliver uncommonly pure expressions of Napa Valley that over deliver in the bottle, ideal for serving by the glass and ready to enjoy upon release. The 2021 Post & Beam Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance, delivers the silken texture and vibrant fruit flavors of traditional Napa Cabernet and the long, lingering finish more closely associated with triple-digit prices.
“We want to be known for the quality of our grapes and vineyards, expertise of our team and versatility,” explains McManus of Far Niente Wine Estates’ commitment to crafting Cabernet across the price spectrum. “We’re proud to make Napa Cabernets for buyers and consumers, wherever folks are in their wine journeys.”
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