Naggiar Vineyards: A destination winery in Grass Valley

MIKE AND DIANE NAGGIAR are creating one of the premier destination wineries in the Sierra foothills.

During the past 10 years, the Naggiars have built the largest family-owned vineyard on the western slope of the Sierra.

Sixty acres are planted in vines on a 135-acre estate in southern Nevada County.

Naggiar’s estate-grown wines including syrah, sangiovese, cabernet franc and blends—have won numerous awards and are poured at some of the area’s finest restaurants, such as Carpe Vino in Auburn and the New Moon in Nevada City.

Now the Naggiars have raised the bar again. The winery has just opened a $1.5 million, 3,600-square-foot tasting room.

The building—in classic California architecture—includes a tasting room with a custom bar and beamed ceiling, a private tasting room and a fully-equipped commercial kitchen that rivals any restaurant.

“We wanted to create a unique and memorable experience,” says Naggiar. “The tasting room is the culmination of our quest to become a destination winery.”

Selling direct to the consumer at the winery, rather than through a distributor, “keeps us close to the customer,” as Naggiar points out. It is pleasurable to visit the winery and meet the owners and winemakers in person. One of our favorite Naggiar wines is the 2006 reserve Syrah, a gold-medal winner.

Judging by the larger-than-expected turnout at the opening of the tasting room in June, the Naggiars made the right move. “It was really heartwarming,” says Naggiar. “This was a very good start.”

The winery is planning to host winemaker dinners and other tasting events in the new facility during the summer. The tasting room is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Naggiar, a retired Hewlett Packard vice president, began growing grapes at his home in the Bay Area in the early ‘90s. He and his wife cultivated about an acre of vines.

“We loved growing grapes,” says Naggiar, who became interested in the idea from a friend who owned a winery.

When Naggiar left Hewlett Packard after 32 years, he and Diane decided to try their hand at a small commercial vineyard. They spent more than three years
looking for property before they settled on the land at the end of Garden Bar Road in Nevada County, 12 miles south of Grass Valley—and easily accessible from Hwy. 49 and Interstate 80. The vineyard is on a gently rolling hillside, surrounded by oak trees and ideally suited for growing grapes.

The Naggiars planted their first vineyard in 1998. About 80 percent of the grapes are sold to other wineries, including ones in the Sonoma and Napa valleys.

Six years ago the Naggiars began making their own wine. They hired U.C. Davis graduate Derek Irwin to handle enology. Naggiar makes wines that range from a viognier at $19 a bottle to a new Rhone blend, the 2006 Le Grand Pére, for $46.

The winery is a family affair. The Naggiar’s son and his family also live on the estate and help out, as does a nephew and niece. Naggiar’s goal is to bring more of them on full time.

At age 65, Mike Naggiar remains a hands-on owner. He manages the vineyard and is the assistant winemaker. He also likes hosting winemaker dinners and other events. “I’m out there every day,” he says. “Retirement is overrated.”

Naggier Vineyards & Winery
18125 Rosemary Lane, Grass Valley
530-268-9059
www.naggiarvineyards.com

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