The Casa Nuestra team is not big in numbers, but huge in heart
MAY WE INTRODUCE OURSELVES?
Gene Kirkham, Happy Farmer
Gene’s mother had no idea what she was starting when she purchased a small Oakville vineyard and summer home in 1956. By 1974 Gene had moved full-time to this St. Helena location with his own family, escaping the fast paced attorney- life of San Francisco . He gladly became steward to some Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Gamay vineyards that were established on the property as well as caretaker to the small vineyard on his mother’s Oakville property. It didn’t take long, just four years for Gene to conclude that it would be easier (and more fun) to make the wine than it had been to sell the grapes. In 1979 an out building on the property was expanded and appropriately stocked with a basket press, tanks and barrels to accommodate the newly born Casa Nuestra Winery.
Enthusiastic friends and family (who were delighted to work for wine) were recruited. The resulting success was almost over night with awards and acclaim pouring in immediately.
Gene’s dedication to preserving the heritage and originality of the Casa Nuestra homestead remains one of the cornerstones of our winemaking philosophy.
Cody Gillette Kirkham ~ Happy Co-Owner
For many years Cody was Casa Nuestra’s entire support staff! While raising their two children and tutoring students privately, Cody worked alongside Gene in every aspect of the winery- from shoveling pressed grape skins and wiping down freshly filled
bottles to packing up orders for shipment.
Today among many interests, Cody follows her heart and speaks for the land, keeping the current support staff in tune with its needs and history. She was a driving force in converting the winery’s energy source to solar, is pushing for the use of bio-diesel fuel and sees electric “company” vehicles in the Casa Nuestra future.
Allen Price ~ Chief Winemaker
Allen has lived in the Napa Valley since birth and began his career in Valley’s wine industry as a young man in the 1960′s at Charles Krug Winery. Today his family in St. Helena spans four generations. Allen brings with him an intimate knowledge of our wine style as well as an unmatched understanding of our unique field-blend vineyards because he was among the original consultants who engineered the creation of Casa Nuestra Winery back in 1979. Currently, Allen oversees Casa Nuestra’s annual production of 2,000 cases as well as all estate vineyards.
When you’re visiting, the chances are good you’ll see Allen. It seems he’s here 24/7! Feel free to corner him with any of your questions. We don’t know a better source of winemaking and vineyard knowledge. We’re pretty sure that he’s got red wine running through his veins!
Rigoberto Nava ~ Vineyard Manager/Cellar Master
Rigo had no idea how passionate he would become about vines and wine when he joined the Casa family back in 1986. No one knows the eighteen acres of vineyards here at our St. Helena estate and the 1.6-acre vineyard in Oakville as intimately. They are in his charge, and this is no easy undertaking. Rigo plants, prunes, ties, harvests and tills these vineyards personally. His assistance in the cellar is also invaluable. He has an astute palette and is an aspiring home-winemaker. (He’s pretty darn good too!) If you spot him in the vineyard during your visit please feel free to ask him a question or two. His vineyard and wine knowledge is paramount. He, like Allen, has red wine in his veins!
Esequiel Ortiz ~ Vineyard Specialist
We often refer to the Casa Nuestra staff as ‘family” and Esequiel certainly is! He is the brother-in-law to Rigo, our Vineyard Manager. Esequiel has been with us full-time since 2003 and is definitely one of our stars. He knows the vineyards almost as well as Rigo and offers great support in the field. He joined us with more than 30 years of farming experience, so you can just imagine how much knowledge that represents – truly immeasurable.
We started our Nubian Weed-Eating Program in 1999 with Nubi. We soon found that goats aren’t grazers and will not clear weeds between vineyard rows or in pasture(if you’re in need of a lawnmower, you’re in need of a sheep). Goats are brushers and prefer to snack on a wide variety of vegetation growing at shoulder height(read: grapevines). Soon after we adopted Nubi, she gave birth to four healthy kids. We kept the two bucks, Nava & Cross, and found a home for the two does. Nubi passed away some years ago and Cross passed away in the spring of 2008. Goats are very social animals and can not live alone, so we adopted A.P. (who was born in 2007 at the Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga), to keep him company. Nava passed away on June 15, 2011 and A.P., suffering from separation anxiety, was returned to his brothers and sisters at the geyser.
On June 17, 2011 two bucks were born at a farm in Penngrove, CA and on June 23rd Autumn and Rigo drove over to pick up the latest generation. The new babies need to be bottle fed several times a day, until they are 8-12 weeks old. Jon and Autumn take turns feeding them throughout the day and will do so until they can be weaned off of milk in late August, early September.
New additions to the Casa Nuestra family!
- Katrina Kirkham – General Manager
- Jon Swenson – Tasting Room Manager
- Autumn Trumble – Wine club, Marketing & Business development (& occasionally her German Shorthaired Pointers, Jackson & Madeline)
- Steve Rummel – Tasting Room & Production Assistant
- Hector Ortiz – Production Assistant