The Benefits of a Great Location
Find Nicholson Ranch on a map by tracing directly north from the northern most tip of San Pablo Bay, an extension of the San Francisco Bay. The winery estate is situated at the crossroads of the world’s most esteemed winegrowing regions: Napa, Sonoma Valley and Los Carneros. Sonoma Valley and the historic Sonoma Plaza are located to the west, Carneros district lies to the south and Napa Valley to the east. Cool and wind-whipped, the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, combined with the cooling effects of the Bay, are ideal for winegrowing.
The winery at Nicholson Ranch is a state-of-the-art, gravity-flow design. It is one of the few wineries in California that was from inception specifically designed as a gravity flow winery. A gentle touch is important to preserve the delicate flavors and aromas of wines, especially those of Pinot Noir. From the moment the grapes are harvested, great care is taken to move the wine gently through essential developmental stages.
The winery is built directly above the caves. At the topmost level, freshly harvested grapes are sorted and de-stemmed before being lowered into the fermentation tanks at the next level. After pressing, the wine flows from the above-ground facility down into a settling tank in the caves. From there it is gravity-fed into barrels for aging. Finally, sunken blending tanks hold the wine until bottling.
The Nicholson Ranch winery building 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 first-growth redwood was used for the lintels, shutters and trellises. The roof is crafted of variegated slate, trimmed with copper gutters. The exterior finish makes use of a special French lime technique in subtle earthen colors to blend with the hills. The design, materials and palette were all carefully selected to create a winery that gracefully blends with an indigenous California setting.
Nicholson Ranch excavated 10,000 square feet of subterranean wine caves in 2000. With 600 linear feet, the caves provide an ideal climate for the development of wines as well as a low-impact solution for the environment. The caves maintain a relatively constant temperature and humidity, averaging 55-65 degrees year round. As the wine ages in barrels, the optimal cave environment assures a better balance of evaporation and flavor retention. Nicholson Ranch also boasts an amazing underground dining room in the caves for special events.