Far Niente Owners Create a New Winery on the Sonoma Side

    The partners of Napa Valley’s Far Niente winery have announced the creation of “EnRoute,” a winery specializing in the production of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

     EnRoute’s inaugural release will ship nationally in September.

     The winery will debut with “Les Pommiers,” a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from the 2007 vintage. Named for the apple orchards that once flourished in the region, “Les Pommiers” reflects a blend of vineyards primarily from Green Valley and the upper Middle Reach area of the Russian River Valley AVA.

     The winery name, EnRoute, is a nod to the journey the partners have taken on their way to producing Pinot Noir.

     “We first became enchanted with Pinot Noir in the 1980s in Burgundy,” said EnRoute co-founder Larry Maguire. “While Far Niente’s vision is exclusively focused on Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, we still enjoyed traveling and tasting the great Pinot Noirs of the world. Eventually, Nickel & Nickel’s single-vineyard program gave us the freedom to set foot in the Russian River Valley.

     “A few years into producing wines from Russian River, we decided to make a serious commitment to the region, acquired two remarkable vineyards and established EnRoute, devoted to Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.”

     The partners — Maguire, Beth Nickel, Erik Nickel, Jeremy Nickel and Dirk Hampson — jointly own EnRoute and sister wineries Far Niente, Dolce and Nickel & Nickel. They purchased two vineyards in the Russian River Valley specifically for EnRoute.

     Graton Vineyard is located in the Green Valley AVA within the greater Russian River Valley AVA. Acquired as an abandoned apple orchard, the 21.5-acre parcel was groomed and planted to Pinot clones Pommard 5, Mt. Eden, Swan, 2A and Dijon clones 115 and 777 in the area’s renowned Goldridge sandy loam soils.

     The partnership subsequently purchased the celebrated Amber Ridge Vineyard in the upper Middle Reach area of the northern Russian River Valley. Located on rolling terrain off Starr Road, 22 acres were planted to Pinot Noir in 2000 on bilateral vertical trellising. The clonal mix includes Pommard 5, Calera and Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777.

     The partners also have been involved with Manzana Vineyard in Green Valley since it was planted in 2001. Eight acres of the east-facing hillside vineyard, planted to Pinot Noir Dijon clones 114, 115 and Pommard 5, contribute to the “Les Pommiers” blend.

     “We have always believed in vineyard ownership as a way to produce the best fruit for our wines,” said Dirk Hampson. “In addition to the fine vineyards we own, we are also fortunate to have good relationships with some of the region’s long-established growers.”

Posted in Wineries of Distinction
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