Casa Nuestra Winery (meaning “our house”) was founded in 1979 (with a small production of Chenin Blanc and Grey Riesling) and is located on a 40-acre property located on the west side of the Northern Silverado Trail. The old ranch style farmhouse was painted yellow for so many years until the exterior was painted to a much darker color in 2015. The winery and grounds are like a throwback to a different time where where wineries were functional and not flashy. Compared to visiting other more busy wineries in the valley, your heart rate drops several octaves once you pull into their gravel driveway.
For reference, Casa Nuestra is located just south of and across from Chateau Boswell. This is a small family owned winery and their total case production is only about 1500 cases. All grapes for their wines come from their estate vineyard.
Current owner, Gene Kirkham’s (who also goes by the nickname, Happy Farmer) mother Ellis Kirkham first purchased property in the Napa Valley in 1955 (in Oakville) to use it as a summer getaway destination from the cool days in San Francisco. The property was originally planted to a number of mixed varietals in the 1920’s. For 25 years Casa Nuestra sold the fruit ot the Napa Coop. The family finally sold this vineyard in the 1990’s but before doing so they planted a number of cuttings from the property on their St. Helena property.
Their vineyards have been farmed organically since day one and they do not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. For the most part their vines are dry farmed (except in the case of serious drought years). Sheep are introduced into the vineyards during certain times of the year to keep the cover crop ‘mowed’. The winery installed solar cells in 2005 (one of the earlier ones to do so in the valley) and these fully power the winery and tasting room.
They have an eclectic variety of different grapes planted on their estate property, some of which date back to the 1960’s (the old Chenin blanc grapes grow near the entrance to the winery – and date from 1961 – probably the oldest grapes of this varietal still growing in Napa). This is one of those rare small production wineries in the valley who produce a plethora of different wines from varietals not often seen in the Nap Valley today.
Casa Nuestra specializes in making unusual types of wines (based on Napa standards), especially of various blends and specifically of field blends where several varieties of grapes are planted together in the vineyard and then are all harvested and fermented together. This type of practice used to be very common for home winemakers but is not as often found in commercial wine making in the Napa area.
How many Napa wineries produce a Chenin Blanc, or a dry rosé blend of Merlot & Cabernet Franc? They also have a very nice 100% Cabernet Franc. One of their wines, “Two Goats Red” is named for the two goats that keep the weeds down in that particular vineyard!
Did you know that there used to be large blocks of Riesling planted in the Napa Valley? Not anymore, and as a result it is extremely difficult to find a Napa grown Riesling – we are aware of at least 5 Napa vineyards & Napa producers still producing Riesling and this is one of them! They produce a delicious off dry Riesling from a vineyard planted in 1966. This wine has great acidity with notes of spice on the nose, with nice fruit flavors including pineapple and citrus.
The hosts affectionately refer to their tasting room as the “Hippy Room” lots of articles, Elvis memorabilia, some propaganda and other interesting items are hung on the wall. One note of interest is Elvis Presley filmed part of Wild In the Country in the early 1960’s along the Napa River on what is now property owned by Casa Nuestra. During this filming Elvis spent approximately two months living in what is now the luxury Ink House south of St. Helena (where guests can stay in the restored Elvis Room).
After years of accepting visitors by walk-in, they now only accept visitors with prior appointments. You can only purchase their wines from the winery or from their wine club – no other distribution exists. For more information, visit: www.casanuestra.com
NOTE: this review has been identified as needing a *major* update.
Video by TastingRoomers.com