Nickel & Nickel is a prestigious winery founded by Gil Nickel after he founded Far Niente – another winery well worth visiting. Gil unlike a number of the area wealthy winery owners actually went to college (UC Davis) to learn more about winemaking after becoming smitten with wine when he was already in his 30′s. This is an appointment only winery and the “10 second Napa Valley appointment” does not apply here as you actually have to reserve ahead of time – far ahead of time during busy weekends and the summer months. They are located right next to highway 29 almost across from the famous Robert Mondavi Winery; you can’t miss the antique Nickel & Nickel truck which is almost always parked in front of their property next to the highway. The white wooden gate is always locked and you must key in 000 to speak to the receptionist who will open the gate for you. Parking is to the right after you enter the gate in front of the 2 story white wooden building under the oaks.
Before the tour starts, enjoy a light white wine in their classic tasting salon located inside the totally restored Sullenger House which dates from 1884. This is one of the classiest properties in Napa Valley and attention to detail is everywhere you walk. An old building dating from 1770 was removed from New Hampshire and was completely rebuilt on the grounds. This is now probably the “oldest” building in Napa County! Not a single metal nail was used in the inner construction as the beams are all held together by wood. The tour also winds through the heart of their winemaking and fermentation tank area. Being located on the valley floor makes it quite difficult to dig a cave, so as with just a handful of other valley floor wineries, Nickel & Nickel has dug a large cellar which is below the fermentation room. You will visit this cellar as well on the tour. The winery was built with quality in mind, only first class and the latest state of the art technology is used in the wine making. The winemaker can actually remotely control various aspects of the fermentation tanks directly from her laptop including temperature!
At the end of the tour you sit down and try various Cabernets in a small classically styled room. Typically you will be served the same vintage Cabernet Sauvignon but wines that are sourced from different soil types and vineyards. As a result, it is really quite dramatic to taste the terroir differences in all of these wines. Nickel & Nickel’s claim to fame is they produce single vineyard wines and the “b” (blend) word is not to be spoken in this winery! However, we tasted one wine from Nickel & Nickel which is supposedly a winery “mistake” in which their winemaker accidentally produced a blended wine. This is very hush hush and if you want a bottle of this, you have to ask at the winery itself. Perhaps this one blended wine just might become a collectors item! For the quality Nickel & Nickel’s red wines cannot be beat. At press time, for a relatively small winery they make a huge amount (25) different red wines and plan to even expand their repertoire further in the near future. Visit: www.nickelandnickel.com