Post & Beam Chardonnay Napa Valley 2019

Deep gold color; peach, spice, oak notes on the nose; yellow apple, mango, peach, oak spice on the nose; citrus, yellow apple, peach cobbler, pear, stone fruit, minerality on the palate.

Post & Beam Chardonnay Napa Valley 2019

Dry; significant but not overpowering oak. Balancing acidity. Bold chard, at same time very smooth easy drinker. Balanced with vivid fruit and impressive minerality. Oak, vanilla from barrel program. No malolactic fermentation, so no butter to interfere with fruit forward style and muffle the acidity. Medium body. Significant alcohol for a chard: 14.5% ABV.

Napa royalty Far Niente launched Post & Beam as a second label in 2000. The name reflects the simple but elegant barns found throughout America. According to the winery, “Post & Beam wines represent craftsmanship, tradition, legacy and purity in winemaking.  The winery is the latest addition to the Far Niente Family of Wineries and Vineyards, joining Far Niente, Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, EnRoute, and Bella Union.”

John Benson founded Far Niente (Italian for “without a care”) in 1885. Benson was the uncle of famed impressionist painter Winslow Homer. Noted architect Hamden McIntyre designed the winery building. Constructed against a hillside, Far Niente is a gravity-flow operation, no need for pumping of juice.

Far Niente in disrepair after Prohibition

Far Niente operated as a winery until Prohibition in 1919. It was abandoned and fell into disrepair until Gil Nickel purchased the winery and vineyards in 1979, beginning a three-year effort at restoration and rehabilitation. Wine production resumed in 1982. The winery focuses only on cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. In 1998, a bottle of Far Neinte Sweet Muscat 1886 was discovered in a private cellar. The bottle retains its original label and capsule and is believed to be the oldest intact bottle of California wine in existence. Far Niente’s sister wineries include Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, and EnRoute.

Built on a hillside, wine caves were intended to be part of the original winery. They did not materialize until the restoration in 1980 when Alf Burtleson dug a 60-foot wine cave, the first to be constructed in North America since the turn of the 20th century. The caves were expanded over the years and today encompass some 40,000 square feet and house more than 2,500 French oak barrels.

Thirteen acres of beautifully landscaped gardens surround the winery. The gardens include thousands of southern azaleas that bloom each spring. Likely the largest single planting of azaleas on the West Coast, they can be seen from a mile away on Highway 29. The gardens were a natural for Gil Nickel, who with his brother, John, ran the family’s Greenleaf Nursery in Oklahoma, which today is the second-largest privately held commercial nursery in the U.S.

Far Niente winery today

The winery has practiced sustainable agriculture for many years. The website notes the winery strives “to be ecologically friendly in all aspects of operations at our wineries. In 2008, Far Niente went solar in a revolutionary way with our Floatovoltaic™ system, becoming the first in the world to float a significant, grid-connected solar installation. Along with sister winery Nickel & Nickel, we are solar powered, net-zero users of electricity who annually produce more energy than we consume. All our vineyards are organically farmed; vineyard irrigation and frost protection use collected process water from winery operations. Lastly, we continue to recycle extensively at all our wineries.”

Post & Beam Chardonnay Napa Valley 2019 is balanced, sophisticated chardonnay. Second label from Far Niente winery, a member of Napa royalty. No bashful chard—it has body, alcohol, and attitude. Significant expression of Napa chardonnay. With its minerality and acidity, superb pairing with seafood, fish, oysters, shell fish; pork; poultry; vegetarian fare. $27-35

Post and Beam website

Far Niete website with several informative videos; worth a visit

Far Niente winemaker Nicole Marchesi
Far Niente interior
Far Niente vineyard
Far Niente vines
Far Niente gardens
Far Niente wine caves
Far Niente floating solar panels