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This winery has a distinctive Redwood sided barn-like appearance, a design created by Turnbull Associates, the original owner of the winery. The style both contrasts and complements the mission revival style of the nearby Mondavi Winery. The winery was recently sold, and so I can't comment on the changes in staff and winemaking at this time. However, the winery is worth visiting for its traditionally great Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The name change suggests to me that less home grown grapes and more purchased grapes will be used, but I really don't know. Please check out the winery and provide feedback. In any case, the unique first-class redwood architecture itself is worth the stop. Winery information is provided at the link below.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Far Niete was rather famous for producing a very rich malolactic fermented style Chardonnay that was bottled in a very ornate package. In the 1980's, Far Niete sold their wine for $30- per bottle, a very high price at the time. The wine was indeed very good, but many serious wine consumers found it oversold in terms of quality, especially given the fancy bottle. However, I like to keep a bottle around to wow friends who are less serious about wine, from time to time. Gil NIckel cultivated a sense of secrecy, making wine tours "by appointment only" exclusive to the wine industry only, and so raised the stakes for other wineries to raise their bottle prices and sense of exclusivity at the same time. The winery building has plenty of history and is worth the visit as it's not just another stone building. Check out the website for more details. The winery is now open to the public, "by appointment only", but be sure to be ready to part with some cash for this tour.
Written May 8, 2006
If one takes the Oakville Crossroads toward Silverado Trail, Groth is on the left side just before Silverado Trail. Groth is a fine producer of Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, but also makes very accessible Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and occasionally Merlot. The winery claims that their best wine is the Cabernet Sauvignon, so try the current releases which should soon be released from a vineyard replanting program started in 1999. The architecture of the winery building is also unique and continues the trend of the Oakville Bench area to set the winery well back off the road and into the center of the vineyards. Like Mondavi, Groth choose to design a mission-revival style building, although the effect is much more ornate in terms of the trim and thus quite different in effect. The website is quite good, providing details of the vineyard replanting. They also have nice artwork with viticultural themes at the winery.
Written May 8, 2006
Address: 750 Oakville Crossroads, Oakville
Up the Oakville Grade is a winery that was originally a cooperative between Mondavi and the French wine company of the same name. Vichon has very pleasant "restaurant style" wines, and was originally only sold to restaurants. The white wines are carefully crafted and generally well balanced toward the leaner side. The red wines are soft and ready to drink. At one time, this was a good place to picnic, but one had to buy a bottle to use the table. The view across the valley from Vichon is spectacular, providing a good reason alone to visit this winery. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, I couldn't locate a website for Vichon.
Written May 8, 2006
The basic background information for this winery is on my introductory page, although most reader's familiar with the valley will already know the legendary status of this winery. More information is available at the link below, providing both history and tours/tasting hours. The winery is a huge facility by Napa Valley standards, although Mondavi actually has larger winemaking and bottling plants in Lodi California. Also, the exclusive Opus I wine is made at a special facility, also located in Oakville. In any case, the tour of the Mondavi winery is very professional and one of the better production tours. Novice wine consumers can learn a lot here, and so I highly recommend starting with a tour here before going to the boutique wineries. The winery is also a center for music and other entertainment events from time to time.
Written May 7, 2006
The Oakville Grocery is legendary in terms of mixing wine and food. Great pates, cheezes, and other foods normally associated with wine are sold there. The bottle collection is good too. They have many different types of mustards, vinegars, dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and other condiments that will tease the buyer. This place is an easy stop if the parking lot isn't already full. The building is an authentic old grocery store at the main corner in Oakville, which after all is little more than a farm town crossroads without even a stop light to brake the traffic.
What to buy: I'm personally not a big fan of Oakville Grocery anymore as they have raised their prices on so many items, and then when I'm there, I have to wait in line while other tourists are being served. Neverthess, newcomers to the valley will find this a convenient stop because it's easy to find. They have many culinary items that will tease the buyer into purchasing. From here, it's easy to drive up the hill or Vichon, continue to V. Sattui, or drive over to Rutherford Hill or even Chappellet wineries where good picnic grounds are found.
What to pay: High prices, but also unique items.
Updated Feb 15, 2007