Reputed for the very high quality of its wines, the Far Niente estate is one of the oldest producers of Californian wines in Napa Valley.
The estate was founded in 1885 by John Benson. Having settled in California in 1849, during the Gold Rush period, John Benson hired the architect Hamden McIntyre, who, notably, worked on certain wine estates (Christian Brothers and Gustav Niebaum) which helped with the conception of his cellar. The Far Niente estate then equipped itself with innovative infrastructures for the time period, such as a gravity-fed system so that the grapes can be carefully handled during each stage of winemaking. The estate, which name echoes the Italian expression "Dolce Far Niente", meaning "the joy of doing nothing", experienced significant growth until it was abandoned in 1919, at the start of Prohibition.
Gil and Beth Nickel bought this estate, which had remained untouched for 60 years, in 1979, and began major renovations. The work, which lasted for 3 years, restored the property to its original glory. Far Niente is registered on the National Register of Historic Places as one of Napa Valley’s most exclusive sites, most notably for its cellars, which were the first ones to be built underground in North America.
Passionate and visionary, Gil Nickel was inspired by the great winegrowing estates on the other side of the Atlantic, deciding to only focus on two grape varieties. Far Niente is recognised beyond borders as one of the best winegrowing estates in the world for the quality of its two single-grape grape varieties, the Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon and the Estate Bottled Chardonnay, for which the winery recently celebrated its 40th vintage.
Thanks to its history, its terroir and the quality of its wines, the Far Niente estate is an iconic Napa Valley name which has actively participated in the international development of great wines in California.