Enjoy some of the stories, tales, legends, rumors and just straight yarns that have been shared with us about families, traditions, and experiences with Nichelini Winery.
Sometimes you know your family, and can be proud, but I think it’s always nice when you hear about how special your family is from the “outside”.
Fred Nichelini was my Dad, David Cooney’s supervisor at Mare Island. I showed my Dad the postcard w/the 2018 Pic#2 of Fred and Catherine (and pet) and he said, “He was a great boss. We’d make a suggestion and he’d say, ‘Let me think about it’. Then he’d come back to us guys and say, ‘Well it’s not how they want it, but this is how we’re going to get it done.’ And he’d always back us up if there was any flack.” Thank you for providing my Dad and me a special time of good memories.
Colleen (Cooney) Tortorice
My father was Ruben W Phillips, his mother (my grandmother) was Pauline Vivian Leoni and her mother (my great grandmother) was Caroline Felicitia Nichelini. My father told stories of when he was young staying with his grandparents and working on the winery. I took my dad to see the winery and visit with Jimmy who died shortly after are visit. We went to the family picnic which was a nice memory for my dad.
I visited the winery 2 years ago as an add on to a work trip. After spending the day frustrated at how Napa has changed to high cost tastings, I headed back to Sacramento over the mountains with a bag full of great picnic food and no wine to share it with. Much to my surprise, I passed a sign that said “Yes, way!” While driving a winding mountain road. I found a way to turn around to get back to this magical place. After parking, l walked down stone steps with the sound of an accordion play in the distance and was greeted by a smile and free sample of cool and delicious white wine with watermelon and cheese. I then proceeded to taste all of the offerings and made a friend at the tasting bar. It was her birthday and she brought her newly married husband to Napa for his first wine weekend. We enjoyed our company so much that I offered to share my picnic food and a bottle of the 2010 Reserve Zinfandel with them. We sat at a picnic table for 2 hours and talked / shared wonderful food, wine and stories. All the while, the according played along with our stories. Toward the end, the winery rep from the tasting brought down some Porchlight for us to cap off our amazing experience. Today, I received a promotion at work and am drinking another glass of the same Zinfandel that I brought home, saved for a special occasion. Opening the bottle brought back the memory from that visit 2 years ago. I think the best of life is shared with great conversation, food and wine. This wine and that day made a very special memory for me.
We wanted to share with you our framed picture of several of the postcards we have received from you over the past few years. We saved so many of them thinking that we would use them somehow, and this Christmas I had them framed for my husband as a gift. He was thrilled!
Our best to everyone at Nichileni Winery & a prosperous new year!
Connie & Michael Alexander
“It was summer, 1959, my best friend, Cindy, invited me to spend time with her Grandparents at their winery…..astonishingly, I was allowed to go. They were the loveliest people. The winery was such a mysterious, cool, dark place for this kid who never even saw a bottle of wine before. We fished in the stream, “discovered” crawfish in the shallows, Cindy took me up the hill to the spring that fed the house, and all else, I believe, at the time. There was a big old white horse out in the pasture, who didn’t seem to mind two kids making a fuss over it. Your Grandmother, God bless her!!, actually cleaned and fried up some tiny trout for me. It was my first experience with drinking wine, with DINNER! Wow! It truly is one of the shining memories of my growing up in California…..and sleeping in the bed by the window made of glass blocks, it was all sort of a lazy, sweet, magical bit of time out of mind.”
-Cheryl Thacker (once upon a time, Carroll)
“In 1984, on a cold and rainy night in January we had the pleasure of coming upon the Nichelini winery, where an older gentleman -Mr Nichelini- was hosting a small group by a big furnace, offering wine tastings in the pouring rain. That night we tasted the best wines and port we’ve ever tasted in our lives. We brought some port back. It was wonderful and this gentleman was the best! Sitting around that furnace, looking down over the vines in the rain was magical!”
–Maggie Dunaway Bedford, Texas
“My friend and I passed by several vineyards and wineries during our 40 mile bike ride of Napa tour from Yountville to Saint Helena on Sunday, August 20, 2017. When I got to the top of our ride along lower Chiles road, which is roughly 20 miles from where our bike ride started, I came upon the only winery on that road. It looked so inviting, that I flagged my friend to stop and park our bikes so we could take a break at this beautiful winery. When we walked down the steps to the tasting area, Doug greeted us with such a warm welcome and a big smile that melted all the difficulty that I felt during the climb of our bike ride. Doug offered us tastings of their new release and told us stories of their winery and the grapes. I enjoyed the Caterina Semillon the best, which was named after his mother. Thank you for your hospitality. I hope to visit again soon. I wish your family the best and for your vineyard to thrive for many more generations to enjoy. Cheers!”
“I used to come to Nichelini Winery when I was in grad school at UC Davis and when working in the SF Bay area. You were my favorite! Not much for alcohol, I fell in love with you Sauvignon Vert with its crisp and clean flavor. I then learned the grape was only present in something like 66 acres in the US mostly in Europe. I was in love! Your tasting room boasted one of my favorite pictures I took of myself there, and the hummingbird feeders in the back is still one of my favorite places to be in the Napa Valley. Keep up the good work Nichelini, and I hope to see you again soon!
“My husband, Rick and I were at the Nichelini Winery 5 years ago and absolutely fell in love with it and the scenery. The wine was wonderful and have saved a bottle yet to be touched. We are returning January 2014 and you winery is on our list of priorities to visit. Looking forward again to seeing your establishment. You made us feel at home and my husband still wears your hat.”
-Julie Mason Dover, Ohio
“When I was just a little boy in the 60’s, my mom and dad would take my sister and I over to Napa from Sacramento on wine tasting trips. I remember the stops at Nichelini more than any other. While Mom and Dad tasted, the proprietor would let my sister and I eat grapes. The smells of barrels, musk, and wine always take me back to Nichelini. It was just 10 years ago that I took my dad there one last time. Today, his Parkinson’s pretty much keeps him in bed. I’ve returned many times since, and will continue to go for as long as I’m able. I have a wonderful connection to Nichelini’s friendliness, coziness and shared history.”
-Jeff Wedge Roseville, CA
“When I was a little girl in the early 80’s my family used to visit your winery. My father’s (John Wainright) great-aunt was related to your family and she sought us out wen we lived in Oakland. I distinctly remember teh old house with the wood-burning fireplace and the old stone barn with the huge casks. I know we picnicked there a couple times. My family lives in Pennsylvania now, but we always remember your winery fondly.”
-Elizabeth Ivers Wainright
“I stopped by your winery last Friday, May 3rd, and wanted to comment about my visit. First, I have driven past it a dozen or so times, but always in route to or from the valley. This time I had time and decided to stop.
I want to say: 1) how much I enjoyed your wines and 2) how much I enjoyed the young lady who served me. She indicated that she only works one day a week and is a family memeber, by the name of Janette. But she really made the stop worthwhile. I have a small 400-700 case winery and would love to have individuals as pleasant as her working for me. We enjoyed a bottle of your Cab-Sauv with dinner this evening at home and it reminded me that I wanted to express my pleasure with my visit. We get to Napa every 2-3 years and look forward to making a point of stopping by.”
–John Girt Owner/Winemaker at Tiger Mountain Winery, LLC
“My wife and I were at your winery in early August and very much enjoyed the tasting you provided. We arrived unannounced and during a time you were not normally open, but you took us in and gave a great presentation. In addition you gave us a thorough wine education. I wish I could remember half of what you said. We purchased a couple bottles of wine and have enjoyed them. Thanks for being so kind and I hope you enjoy a great year of wine.”
– Jim T.
“Hello all. Just thought I would drop you a note about how much my wife and I enjoy your wine, The Primitivo is still my favorite, and have enjoyed it with lamb and all by itself. We were there just as the vines were waking up and thought your Vineyard was the most relaxed and made the tasting very personal. Keep up the good work.” – Bob
“If walls could talk, the old stone winery of Nichelini would tell amazing tales of 5 generations of family winemakers and the historic creek side winery that is the oldest in the Napa Valley. For over 120 years, the Nichelini family has produced exquisite estate wines in the Napa Valley. The historic stone winery, on the banks of Sage Creek, was built in 1895. Through Prohibition and beyond, 5 generations of this legendary family have honed their skills producing award-wining wines that are only availableat the winery. Visit any day chat with the family over a glass of wine. Learn about the wines and their rich history in the Napa Valley. By the time you leave, you’ll have made a few new friends and already be planning your next visit!”
– Jonelle January 31, 2012
“My father frequented Nichelini winery on numerous occasions in the early 70’s. Remember running around out back and on those chilly mornings/days sitting on the small kegs. All this while my dad and I think another Mr. Nichelini talked about wine. Each time we left the cases were stacked in the back of the station wagon and the camping equipment on top. My brother and I were squeezed in on those rides back to the city. Liked looking at the pictures. Hasn’t changed that much in the areas I remember. Cheers!”
-Tim Lewis January 10, 2012
“I visited Napa for the first time ever! We were so disappointed! Went to a small winery on the Napa-St Helena hwy, and the young man at I would rather not mention where, didn’t care, notice, or give a hoot about who we were, we could have been from Mars! It wasn’t anything personal, just take a number, pay your tasting fee and buy some wine and move on so I can get off work. On the way home, we drove the road to Lake Berryessa and luckily stopped in at the Nichelini Family Winery and were wowed by the personal touch beyond our dreams! After opening up for us, because we told them about our non-descript and sad experience in the valley, they said that we couldn’t leave Napa that way. We tasted all their wine, shared our Organic Nation spirits with them and got invited, per tradition, to their family BBQ/Bday party, an entire pig! Everyone was so nice, beyond our expectations. We now have friends for life, and besides, the wine is great! The service and care is beyond what anyone expects, We dream of this and they made our dream come true!! Come visit us soon in Oregon, so we can return the favor!”
– Diane and David from Organic Nation, Ashland, OR
“I was looking for a wine to go with a pork roast and thought of Gamay which brought me back to 1982 and a trip to Nichelini Winery to buy wine for a party. Jim was working that day and we bought four cases of Gamay.”
– Bill Conlon, Palo Alto, CA