Casa Nuestra Winery (meaning our house in Spanish) was founded in 1979 (with a small production of Chenin Blanc and Grey Riesling) and is located on a 40-acre property 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 the hospitality spaces not flashy. One’s heart rate drops several octaves simply by pulling into their gravel driveway.
For reference, Casa Nuestra is located just south of and across from Chateau Boswell Winery. This small family-owned winery produces limited production wines – usually around 1,500 cases per year. 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 including remarkably some Muscatine vines (only Spiriterra in the Napa Valley produces commercial wines from this variety). For 25 years Casa Nuestra sold estate grapes to the Napa Valley Co-op based in St. Helena (now the location of HALL Winery). The Kirkham’s finally sold their Oakville vineyard in the 1990’s but before doing so they collected a number of cuttings, grafted them to roostock and then planted them on their St. Helena property.
Their vineyards have been farmed organically since they were originally planted; 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.
An eclectic variety of different grapes are planted on their St. Helena 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 – perhaps the oldest grapes of this variety still growing in the Napa Valley). This is one of those rare small production wineries producing a wide diversity of wines from varieties not often seen in today’s contemporary Napa Valley.
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 who 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! Casa Nuestra produces 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).
The 2016 Casa Nuestra Riesling
The 2017 Casa Nuestra Chenin Blanc
The 2014 Casa Nuestra St. Helena Tinto is one of the most unusual blends from a Napa Valley based produced. The following seven varieties are harvested, fermented together and then also barrel aged together: Carignan, Negrette, Napa Gamay, Petite Sirah, Grey Riesling, Zinfandel and Alicante Bouschet.
Tasting notes for the above three wines coming by end of 2019 if we still have the energy to make one final pass before our annual much needed end of the year break from the Napa Valley.
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. Pathetic this review is so damn short after all these years.
Video by TastingRoomers.com