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Nicholson Ranch

Nicholson Ranch Nicholson Ranch is a state-of-the-art, five-level gravity-flow facility, designed to gently move wine through its stages of production. Gentle handling is especially important to preserve the delicate flavors and aromas of wines, especially those of Pinot Noir. After being de-stemmed, the grapes slide from the crush pad to the fermentation room below. From the press the wine flows into a raised settling tank in the cave and then is gravity fed into the barrels in the cave. Finally, a sunken blending tank room holds the wine just prior to bottling. Nicholson Ranch is reminiscent of early California structures, with double thick walls and deep overhangs. The doors, windows and tongue and groove ceilings were all constructed of native fir. Salvaged old growth redwood was used for the lintels, shutters and trellises. The roof is of variegated slate trimmed with copper gutters. The exterior finish uses a special French lime technique in subtle earthen colors to blend with the hills. The design, materials and palate were all carefully selected to create a winery that gracefully blends with its California wine country setting.

Directions
From San Francisco: Go north on Highway 101, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through San Rafael and north towards Santa Rosa. At Highway 37, go East (right) towards Napa/Vallejo. Turn left onto Highway 121 towards Sonoma. You will pass Infineon Raceway on your left. You will come to an intersection where Highway 121 splits off from Highway 116. Stay to the right on the long sweeping arc to remain on Highway 121. At the 12/121 split, continue straight ahead. Do not take the left turn onto the 12 towards Sonoma. Continue on Highway 121 to the next traffic light, Napa Road. Turn left onto Napa Road and then take an immediate right at the Nicholson Ranch entrance. From the East Bay: Take Highway 880 North to Highway 580 West turn-off. Continue on Highway 580 West. Cross over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge towards San Rafael. Exit onto Highway 101 and continue North towards Santa Rosa. At Highway 37, go East (right) towards Napa/Vallejo. Turn left onto Highway 121 towards Sonoma. You will pass Infineon Raceway on your left. You will come to an intersection where Highway 121 splits off from Highway 116. Stay to the right on the long sweeping arc to remain on Highway 121. At the 12/121 split, continue straight ahead. Do not take the left turn onto the 12 towards Sonoma. Continue on Highway 121 to the next traffic light, Napa Road. Turn left onto Napa Road and then take an immediate right at the Nicholson Ranch entrance. From Sacramento: Take Highway 80 west towards San Francisco. Take the Highway 12 exit towards Napa and Sonoma. Turn right at the signal light, which puts you onto Highway 29. Continue on Highway 29 over the bridge that crosses over the Napa River. Turn left at the next light, where the 12/121 splits off from Highway 29. Continue on Highway 121 to the next signal, which is Napa Road. Turn right on Napa Road and the Nicholson Ranch entrance will come up quickly on your right.


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Address Web Social
4200 Napa Road, Sonoma, CA, US, 95476 Email: info@nicholsonranch.com
Phone: 707-938-8822 Web: www.nicholsonranch.com
Fax:
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Products



  Chardonnay Sonoma Valley Estate
The 2002 estate Chardonnay is the finest estate Chardonnay for us to date. We knew this the moment the grapes came off the vine in loose, child's fist size clusters. This wine is a blend of fruit from all four Chardonnay blocks on the Ranch. Coconut rind and candied pineapple recall the estate Chardonnays of 2000 and 2001, which were made from Clone 4 fruit. For the first time, however, it is balanced with the lychee nut, flinty edge of Dijon Clones 76, 95 and 96. The palate weight of the wine is the heaviest to date, spreading into crême brulée, vanilla cream and wildflower honey. It has a sappiness to it that none of the past wines have had. The finish is long and creamy, increased in length by the framing acidity and wet stone/slatey character of the Dijon clones.
  Chardonnay Sonoma Valley Estate
The nose shows appealing notes of marzipan, sweet butter, orange marmalade and fig and trails off to hints of pineapple. On the palate this wine shows immediately the richness from the low yields of 2003. The full, rich mouthfeel gives way to loads of honeydew melon, cantaloupe, lemon zest and tremendous leesy richness on the finish.
  Chardonnay Sonoma Valley Estate
Pale gold complexion. Nose of lychee, lemon meringue, vanilla custard and wet river rock. The clone 4 in the blend provides some tropical notes of shredded coconut, banana chips and guava. The dijon clones contribute a citrusy minerality and the smell and texture of the underlying framing acidity. The fruit quality on the palate is hard to pin down, balancing the two ends of the Chardonnay spectrum: sweet and fat and racy and focused. The finish is very clean and long with the abundance of fruit sustained and framed nicely by firm acidity.
  Estate Merlot
This is our first offering of Merlot from our estate vineyard. Originally planted simply because Ramona and Deepak enjoy drinking nice Merlots, the rolling hillside site and typically cool "Carneros" climate have combined to produce grapes that fully express classic Merlot qualities. The dominant aromatics on the 2002 Merlot are sweet black cherry, boysenberry and earth. With a bit more time in the glass, sweet oak and Earl Grey tea come forward as well. On the palate, there is a sweet entry with youthful tannins, yielding to hints of roast beef, cocoa powder, Scharffenberger bittersweet chocolate and toasted rye bread. The finish is long, lingering and tapers off with more notes of mixed chocolate. This wine drinks well now, though decanting for a couple of hours allows the Merlot to fully express itself.
  Merlot Sonoma Valley Estate
The dominant aromatics on the 2002 Merlot are sweet black cherry, boysenberry and earth. With a bit more time in the glass, sweet oak and Earl Grey tea come forward as well. On the palate, there is a sweet entry with youthful tannins, yielding to hints of roast beef, cocoa powder, Scharffenberger bittersweet chocolate and toasted rye bread. The finish is long, lingering and tapers off with more notes of mixed chocolate. This wine drinks well now, though decanting for a couple of hours allows the Merlot to fully express itself.
  Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Estate
This is our first offering of Pinot Noir from anywhere other than our own estate. We will be offering a Sonoma Coast bottling every year for the foreseeable future sourced from a select cast of vineyards. Our first wine is an eight barrel bottling from a few small, young vineyards within sight of the Pacific Ocean. Sonoma Coast as an appellation has supported wine grapes for quite some time, but in very limited quantities. Because of this, we didn't quite know what to expect in terms of aromatic and flavor profile. Tasting the now bottled wine, we are pleased to find some classic cool weather elements: vibrant garnet color, floral nose, minty/peppery palate and good acidity. Jeff Ames, our assistant winemaker, remarked that the wine reminded him of the '96 Williams-Selyem "Hirsch Vineyard" which to us is a supreme compliment.
  Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley Estate
Unlike any Pinot we have released so far, the nose on this wine explodes with pomegranate, cherry, earth, red fruits and jasmine. This wine is very Burgundian in its earthy qualities, but the obviously sweet, ripe fruit shows its California heritage as well. On the palate this wine is medium to full bodied with a complex and sweet entry showing damp earth, persimmon, roasted duck and black cherries. The finish slowly trails off while offering up faint hints of cinnamon.
  Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley Estate
Coming Soon!
  Reserve Chardonnay "Cuvée Natalie" Sonoma Valley Estate
From the day of harvest we knew this Chardonnay would be exquisite. The loose, child's-fist sized clusters have yielded up intense, elegant flavors. The nose offers notes of spicy vanilla, hay, pineapple and sweet, well-integrated oak. The palate weight is the richest to date, spreading into crème brulée and wildflower honey. The long velvety smooth finish is enhanced by the framing acidity and wet stone character of the Dijon clones. Even with the terrific richness, the acids provide balance to allow this wine to be consumed quite easily either with food or on its own. The 2002 Natalie is drinkable now, but should only improve over the next five years with proper cellaring.
  Reserve Chardonnay "Cuvée Natalie" Sonoma Valley Estate
This is the first Cuvée Natalie that we used a true best barrel selection throughout the entire cellar. All 36 barrels of Chardonnay were tasted and given individual scores from 1 to 10. With a rough projected case quantity in mind, we selected the top ten barrels for the 2003 Cuvée Natalie. Greenish gold in appearance, this Natalie is comprised of 70% Dijon clones and 30% clone 4. The new French oak gives the nose nice roundness and balance working with instead of against the acid backbone and citrus notes of the wine. The palate is perfectly fleshed out, benefiting from a full year of bottle age. The fruit breaks out into lime, lemon, guava and honeydew melon. Like all Nicholson Ranch Chardonnays, the acidity more than absorbs the oak with the former helping to prolong the finish and the latter helping to round out the entry and the mid-palate of the wine.
  Reserve Pinot Noir "Cactus Hill" Sonoma Valley Estate
On the nose this wine offers a lot of spicy red fruits, rosemary, violets and rubbing spices. On the palate it has a medium to full weight with well-integrated acids and tannins. The rich mouthfeel is backed up by notes of roasted meats, rosemary, cherry pie, bay leaf and bing cherries. Long and smooth on the finish, this wine deserves a couple hours in a decanter to really show its stuff. In the cellar it should hit its stride in about three years.
  Reserve Pinot Noir "Cactus Hill" Sonoma Valley Estate
Cactus Hill is the hardest wine for us to put together each year. We harvest, and vinify separately, five different Pinot clones from the estate: Dijon selections 113, 114, 115, 667 and 777. After 10 months in barrel, we sit down to evaluate each wine and its relative merits. With the 2003s, our order of preference from favorite to least was 667, 777, 115, 113 and 114. Clones 667 and 777 showed great completeness. They could stand alone as individual bottlings. Clone 115 was all muscle and backbone with a dark core of black fruits. Clone 113 shined aromatically and possessed great sweetness and purity on the finish, but was somewhat hollow in the middle. A nice all-round wine, the 114 started strong but faded fast on the finish. Our approach with the 2003 Cactus involved two blending trials. The first trial was to create the heart of the wine by determining the perfect blend of 667 and 777. The second was to discover how much backbone (115) and finishing sweetness (113) our wine needed for completeness. In the end, we went with 40% 667, 40% 777, 15% 115 and 5% 113.
  Syrah Los Carneros
This is our first offering of Syrah from fruit grown elsewhere than Nicholson Ranch. We didn't stray too far, however, as this fruit comes from our well-known neighbor to the south of Nicholson Ranch, Lee Hudson. Our winemaking technique for this Syrah included a five-day cold soak, where we held the temperature of the must to 55 degrees to bring out the aromatics. The nose on this Syrah gives off crushed black cherries, violets, spice, oak, country ham and a bit of Christmas spices. On the palate the wine is medium weight with seared meats, rhubarb, wet earth, balsamic vinegar and olives. Youthful tannins come through on the persistent finish. Though approachable now, this wine is only going to get better over the next three to five years. Decanting for an hour or two brings greater depth and complexity to the wine.
  Syrah Los Carneros
We are making quite a bit of Syrah these days. Taking its place alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Syrah will become a cornerstone varietal for Nicholson Ranch. With only an acre of estate Syrah, and a belief that "cool climate" Syrah was a worthy pursuit, 2002 saw the inauguration of our Los Carneros Syrah program with the production of 588 cases made with fruit from the Hudson Vineyard on the Napa side of the Carneros. Fruit for the 2003 Los Carneros is from Las Madres Vineyard in the Sonoma Carneros. Bottled simply as "Los Carneros," it will become a staple at Nicholson Ranch for the foreseeable future. This new Los Carneros bottling differs widely from the 2002 version. Where the 2002 wine was very European in style, the Las Madres version is all California; lush black fruits with a big cooking spice nose, complemented by every savory sensation known to humankind. We are so pleased with this wine that, beginning in 2004, it will be vineyard-designated as "Las Madres." I hope you enjoy the new Los Carneros Syrah, and I encourage you to follow, and sample, our growing Syrah program!

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