CASA NUESTRA (which means “Our House”) has produced about 2,000 cases of hand made wine annually since its establishment by the Kirkham family in 1979. Gene Kirkham aka the “Happy Farmer” continues to oversee all operations now in its 28th year
Casa Nuestra crafts several wines including Meritage, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, dry Chenin Blanc, White Riesling, Petite Sirah, Charbono, French Colombard, Rosado, a dry rose and two proprietary red wines called Tinto Classico and Tinto St. Helena – unique wines made from rare, one-of-a-kind ” field blend” vineyards. All of their wines are award winning and very limited.
The original vineyard producing their Tinto Classico was one of the first hillside vineyards planted in the famed Oakville region. It was planted sometime before 1956, at a time when some famous vineyards, which now surround it – such as Martha’s Vineyard, Far Niente, Screaming Eagle and Harlan, were prune orchards or cow pastures. This vineyard is a field mix, which means that it is not a homogenous vineyard planted to a single variety of grapes. Rather, it is planted to a collection of grape varietals, some of which mystify identification experts. It is a wine recipe planted in the ground, reflecting the traditional Old World practices that were common several generations ago. The Kirkham family acquired this unique vineyard in 1956. It was due to the industry’s growing desire for commercial, single-grape vineyards that these once common field-mix vineyards too quickly disappeared. In 1994, to keep the history alive, the Kirkhams took cuttings from the original Oakville vineyard and t-budded them onto vines in St. Helena until the entire vineyard was successfully reproduced there. Wines from the cloned vineyard in St. Helena are labeled “Tinto St. Helena” while wines from the original Oakville stand are labeled “Tinto Classico.”
All of the other varietals used in Casa Nuestra’s wines are grown in the twenty-two acre St. Helena vineyard. Some of the vines located in the St. Helena vineyards date back past 1960. Throughout its tenure, Casa Nuestra has focused on maximizing fruit intensity through the estate vineyards while sacrificing only larger yields. They are committed to sustainable farming practices to keep the estate’s ecosystem in good health. Use of chemical herbicides and pesticides has been kept minimal and will soon be replaced completely by organic techniques such as composting, cover crops and even goats!
In the cellar, the fruit is processed with gentleness and tender loving care. Traditional basket presses, special low-impact pumps and a variety of French and American oak barrels are used to produce these wines of such high caliber and acclaim.
Almost all of Casa Nuestra’s limited production is sold to a loyal community of customers directly from the winery and through their wine club. They open to club members Monday through Saturday, 10 to 5 pm and appointments are available to the public during those same hours. If you’ve not been to Casa Nuestra, you owe it to yourself to visit and experience the unique wines and special atmosphere. They are “dog friendly” and picnickers are also welcome. Casa Nuestra Winery & Vineyards is located at 3451 Silverado Trail North in St. Helena , just two miles north of Deer Park Rd. Telephone: (707) 963-5783 or toll-free 866/844-WINE.
CATCH AN OYSTER??
Origin of “Casa Nuestra”
Over the years, we have had many comical misspellings and misstatements of our trade name. Would you believe a shipment of goods came addressed to Catch An Oyster Winery? Casa Nuestra is a Spanish name meaning “our house.” It is not, as sometimes suggested, “Cosa Nostra”, which is Italian for something else.
One astute linguist objected that Casa Nuestra is improper grammar, because the adjective should precede the noun thus: Nuestra Casa. Most Spanish linguists consulted agree that Casa Nuestra is permissible.
It was our predecessor, Tom Blackburn, who originally gave the name to the property. He intended to use Casa Nuestra as a trade name for a commercial kennel of golden retrievers. The sign “Casa Nuestra” was proudly hanging on the Silverado Trail when we first came to look in 1975. Tom loved the Mexican-Spanish heritage of California, so he called his home Casa Nuestra, and he named the vineyard La Jolla Del Norte. These names are reminders of the fact that it was the Spanish padres who first introduced viticulture to California. In the future, when California’s status as a primary wine-growing region of the world has settled in for a century or two, it may seem odd that wineries went through a period of avoiding California identification by assuming French names.
Reprinted from the Casa Nuestra Journal 1985