For the first time, two of Napa Valley’s favorite boutique wineries—Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel—are allowing visitors to book relaxed, private tastings that include samplings of exclusive cellared bottles going back a decade.
“Vintners are raising the bar about everything,” says Larry Maguire, the vice chairman of Far Niente and a partner at Nickel & Nickel. “It started with wine quality, vineyard development, and restaurants, and now what’s happening is the visitor experience. Now, it has to be a much more personal experience.”
At Far Niente, that means settling into a sofa or easy chair in the expansive gardens and delving into the Private Cave Collection Tasting ($100 per person) with four aged selections of the estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as current releases. The winery also offers a Private Estate Tasting ($75 per person) with four different wines from the Far Niente group. “It’s the most beautiful view on the property,” Maguire says of the tasting’s location, which overlooks the 125-year-old stone estate building. “And you’re sitting under cork oak trees planted by the original owner in the late 1800s.”
At Nickel & Nickel, tasters gather on the wraparound porch, in the wine cellar of the historic John C. Sullenger House, or in the restored 19th-century Gleason Barn. The Private Terroir Tasting ($125 per person) offers a north-to-south sampling of eight single-vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons, including limited-production bottlings available only at the winery.
The Private Single Vineyard Classic Tasting ($75) features four single-vineyard Napa Valley Cabernets and demonstrates how dramatically wine can be affected by small variations in location.
All of the private tastings last about an hour, and the wineries will waive one tasting fee for a six-bottle purchase or wine club signup.