November 1992


Over the years, we have received increasing numbers of requests for Chardonnay – the standard white wine of the Napa Valley.  Last year, through a serendipitous series of events, we met Marion Sargent, a happy farmer with a small Chardonnay vineyard just north of Casa.  Marion is a retired librarian who came to the Valley from Indiana in 1979.  She availed herself of all the available viticultural classes and planted her own Chardonnay vineyard which she nurtures meticulously leaf by leaf and bunch by bunch.  This was a perfect fit for the Casa Nuestra.

We have made the Chardonnay in the classic style, fermenting it in small oak barrels, and leaving the new wine on the yeast lees for an extended period to develop buttery flavors.  The oak tones blend happily with the ample fruit and refreshing acidity.  Delicious!  $12 per bottle.  $130 per case.

1991 Dry Chenin Blanc Barrel-Fermented

Our 1991 Dry Chenin Blanc continues the 13-year tradition.  It is absolutely dry.  Like the popular vintages in 1988 and 1989 this Chenin was fermented in small oak barrels.  It combines toasty oak flavors with substantial structure and medium fruit.  This is a big wine which is drinking very well now and which will develop for many more years in your cellar.  $8 per bottle, $86 per case.


Dear Folks,            Sept, 1, 1992

Some years ago we read that you figured your Chenin Blanc would age for years, perhaps as well as Chardonnay.  Well, we weren’t so sure about that, but figured “what the heck, let’s give it a try.”

We enjoyed all the years [going back to 1983] wondering “why age it?  It’s quite acceptable drinking now.”  However, showing great restraint, we did save two bottles of each year…..

We decided to see if this wine would indeed age well.  We opened one of the ‘83’s and lo & behold…. It is beautiful.  We just sipped and sipped and sipped, smacking our lips until the bottle was gone,

Not to be critical BUT your wine does not age as well as Chardonnay.  It ages BETTER.  We have not found California Chardonnays that will go much past five years.  Your Chenin Blanc ages as well or better than the French ehites.  Congratulations on your style.

No we want to know… will YOU sell us a case of the ’91?  Do you have any of the ’89 and/or ’90 still available?  By chance is there an ’83 around so we will still have 2 of each for some future tasting?  If you can do any or all of this, will you also reserve a case of the ’92 for us?

Hopefully, Respectfully & Sincerely,
Richard and Dolores D.

Tahachapi, CA

Dear Gene & Cody                June 17, 1992

My wife and I have been drinking your wines since we visited your vineyard in 1990.  We enjoyed them very much, especially the Dry Chenin Blanc and Tinto.

When the delivery charges became so high a couple of years ago we found an outlet in Baltimore to purchase your wines and stopped buying direct.

The purpose of my letter today is to tell you to keep bottling all your great wines and to keep sending us your Casa Nuestra Journal, which we look forward to receiving.

Best Wishes,
Jim and Billie S.

York, PA

P.S. Baltimore, MD is 55 miles away so we drive 110 miles round trip to purchase Casa Nuestra wine.


It is predicted that phylloxera- a voracious grape-eating louse – will eradicate 75% of the vineyards of the North Coast in the next five years.  This devastation will create wine shortages and higher prices. Fortunately, most of the Casa vineyards are on traditional St. George rootstock, which is phylloxera resistant.  Only our Cab Franc vineyard is on vulnerable AXR roots, and it may be assumed that it will eventually succumb.

Our ’92 harvest was the smallest in Casa history – down by more than a half – reflecting last year’s bumper crop, holistic viticultural practices, and the long-term effects of drought.  To compensate for sagging wine orders, we sold most of our wine in bulk at sacrifice prices.  Thus, Casa inventories are alarmingly low.  Some examples, ’88 Cab Franc, 23 cases; ’89 Johannisberg Riesling, 74 cases; ’91 Tinto, 144 cases.  It seems likely that some system of allocation may be necessary in the future.


The Napa Valley Folk Festival was a surpassing success.  For three days (Oct. 9-11) at the Napa Fairgrounds, the festival presented non-stop music and good vibes, including performances by Peter Yarrow, Bob Gibson, Hamilton Camp, David Rea, David Maloney, Steve Seskin, and many many others,  If you were there, you know.  If you missed it, you owe it to yourself to come next year.  Pierce Carson of the Napa Valley Register wrote, “May the Napa Valley Folk Festival become the model for all music events in the Napa Valley- no, not only here, but across the nation,”

Casa Nuestra is a major sponsor of the festival, and the Happy Farmer is the executive director of the Napa Valley Folk Fellowship – the non-profit volunteer organization which produces the festival.


1990 Cabernet Franc:  Color is bright medium ruby.  Intense aromas, berries with a distinct bell pepper overtone (suggestive of cousin Cabernet S.)  Full and round in the mouth, good core of promising flavors that include the Cab S. touch.  The 1990 combines the charm of Cabernet Franc aromas with one of the sharper aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon – a somewhat serious and very promising turn…..The mouth of the 1990 will probably be like the 1988 but more comples in flavors and more con brio.  $151/case

1988 Cabernet Franc:  Color is medium deep ruby.  Intense nose, cherries and plums with solid oak, round in the mouth with a great core of flavors.  The tannins are very friendly.  Drinking beautifully for young wine.  The 1988 gets quite Bourdeaux-ish – still has cherries and plums and explosively charming flavors – could drink it all day (with bread, lamb and cheese)  $173/case

1990 Tinto:  A unique red wine, in the Chianti tradition.  Deriving from one of the oldest plantings in the Napa Valley, Tinto is an authentic field mis of Pfeffer, Zinfandel and other varities too mysterious to identify.  It is fruity and complex, with an appetizing aroma and a gorgeous purple color.  A little more oak than previous Tintos.  An absolute original.  $97/case.

1991 Dry Chenin Blanc:  See Above.  $86/case

1991 Chardonnay:  See above.  $130/case

1989 Johannisberg Riesling:  Winner of two gold medalsthis year, our premier edition J.R. is in the traditional off-dry style (r.s. 1.5%)  It is spicy, scented, fruity and tart, with grapefruit flavors and a tantalizing Muscat-like aroma. $97/case

1987 Dorado – Late Harvest Chenin Blanc:  Robust, fruity flavors with the honey-like character of botritys wines and a powerful aroma of fresh pears.  A delightful after dinner nip $97/case of twelve 375ml bottles.


When we began making wine in 1979, there were 109 wineries in the Valley.  Today the number exceeds 250, permitting us to claim truthfully that the Casa is older than most of the wineries in the Valley.  The overpopulation of wineries has caused many dislocations.  It would seem that today’s wine buyers would have many more choices; but in fact, most of the choices are more of the same:  “Cab ‘n Chard,” endlessly repeated, like a library full of books but with only two authors.  Casa Nuestra offers the highest quakity wine and unpretentious prices, but there are many other good reasons for choosing the Casa.  Here are a few:

  1. Casa Nuestra supports noble though unfashionable varieties, which are otherwise disappearing from the Napa Valley:  Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Johannisberg Riesling.
  2. Casa Nuestra produces an authentic field mix, a living example of the folk art of winemaking from generations ago.  The Tinto difference.
  3. Casa Nuestra is in the vanguard of environmental action in the winery and in the vineyard.  For example, last year Casa entirely eliminated the use of pesticides and herbicides.  No other winery offers to recycle your Styrofoam shipping containers.
  4. Casa Nuestra is absolutely commited to the idea that small is beautiful and vigorously resists the pressure to trade its home-made character for growth and glitz.
  5. Casa Nuestra supports a broad range of charitable community activities at a level vastly disproportionate to its size.

November 1993


Tinto and Dry Chenin Blanc

Dry Chenin Blanc and Tinto continue to be our two most popular wines; and in time for the holidays, we have two new releases:  1992 Dry Chenin Blanc and 1991 Tinto.

The Chenin was partially fermented in small oak barrels, giving the wine a hint of oak suffused in rich fruit flavors.  It is dry (virtually no residual sugar) and moderately acidic.  The aroma, which has had months to develop in the bottle, is distinctly Chenin Blanc and reminds me of apples.  The color is a very subtle pale straw.  It is rich and robust in the mouth with a long smooth finish.  It will be a great complement to any menu, with the strength to harmonize with even the most highly flavored dishes.  This is probably the best value going in Napa Valley white wine.  $91.80/case plus $6.66 CA sales tax if applicable.

The new Tinto (1991) made its debut in the salesroom three months ago, and sales have been terrific, even in this very down market.  The people just love it.  It displays the unusual deep purple color, which is the signature of Tinto.  It is even fruitier than the 1990, and the oak is a little less pronounced.  It is soft in the mouth, but it has a pleasant punch in the finish.  The story here is drinkability.  It’s very easy to like.  Our biggest seller.  $102.60/case plus $7.43 CA sales tax if applicable.


The sample case we offered for the first time in the last issue of the Journal has been a big hit.  If you are a one-wine buyer, we want you to try the entire family of Casa wines.  Here’s a chance to sample everything we presently offer and save over 20%.  Each sample case contains three bottles each of 1991 Chardonnay and 1992 Dry Chenin Blanc; and two bottles each of 1989 Cab Franc, 1991 Tinto and 1987 Dorado.  $99, plus $7.18 CA sales tax if applicable.


In wine-speak, a “vertical tasting” is a tasting of the same variety but of different vintages.  Some years ago we offered a vertical tasting case of Chenin Blanc that was enthusiastically received.  Unfortunately, we were unable to continue the 

Program because we had not anticipated it by setting aside sufficient stock of Chenin from previous years.  As we have become more methodical about our “reserve list”, we are again able to offer a “vertical” case:  four bottles each of 1990, 1991, and 1992 Dry Chenin Blanc.  This is a great way to create instant “depth” in the cellar.  $97.20/case, plus $7.05 CA sales tax if applicable.


Most winemaking is actually done in the vineyard.  This is why “estate bottled” wines like those of Casa Nuestra are so rare and sought-after.  It is estimated that 80% of the vineyards of the Napa Valley will be replanted as a result of the phylloxera catastrophe.  The per acre cost of such replanting is estimated to be $25,000, though some say that figure is too low.  What no one is talking about is the fact that superior wines come from older vineyards.  It is said that vineyard must attain its 40th year before it will be used in certain legendary first-growth wines of Bordeaux.  In the land of the hoola-hoop, not much of anything lasts for forty years.  Mature vineyards in the Napa Valley will soon be a rarity if they are not so already.

The impact of phylloxera on Casa Nuestra is softened by the fact that most of Casa’s vineyards were planted in the 60’s on traditional St. George rootstock, which is phylloxera resistant.  The Oakville Tinto vineyard was planted on St. George in the 40’s.  It was not until the emergence of “wine chic” in the 70’s that wholesale replanting to “cab ‘n Chard” occurred.  Sadly, the rootstock of choice during that period was AXR #1, which was then erroneously believed to be phylloxera resistant.  Of the 20 acres of Casa vineyards, only the Cabernet Franc (about three acres) is at risk to phylloxera.  The dreaded louse has not been discovered in the Franc yet, but it must be assumed that its appearance is only a matter of time.  So get it while you can.


Although Cabernet Franc has been the major planting in the St. Emilion region of Bordeaux for centuries, it is still relatively unknown to California wine drinkers.  More than most varieties, it cares where it is planted; and it seems to be very happy here at the Casa.  It has consistently rendered outstanding wines since the premier Casa vintage in 1986.  The current release 1989 is a beautiful ruby color, with an appetizing Cabernet aroma and a soft, velvety texture in the mouth.

The flavors of red berries and mint are intense and concentrated.  The influence of French oak is subtle and agreeable.  A very special wine.  $16 per bottle; $172.80/case, plus $12.53 CA sales tax if applicable.


For those special occasions, which demand a white burgundy, we have 1991 Chardonnay.  In the Casa style, this wine is spritely and refreshing.  It is a complement to a meal, but not the meal itself.  It was made in the classic style, fermented in small oak barrels with prolonged contact with the lees.  A late entry into the field, it is irresistible priced.  An outstanding wine and an outstanding value.

$12 per bottle; $129.60 per case plus $9.40 CA sales tax if applicable.


Many customers in response to the survey expressed the desire to order in 6-bottle increments and so beginning immediately we are offering 6 packs with a quantity discount of 5%.  Compute the price using the bottle prices.  Help yourself to a 5% discount and then add freight and California sales tax (7.25%)if applicable.  If your calculator is in break-down mode, send us the order and we’ll compute the charges for you and confirm them with you by telephone before shipping.  Shipping charges for 6 packs:  In California - $10.  Out of state - $22


As a thank you to quantity buyers, we are initiating a discount program:  10% discount on one case; 15% discount on two or three cases; 20% discount on four or five cases; 25% discount on orders of more than 5 cases.  


In the past we have not ordinarily shipped wine in quantities less than a case of 12 bottles (but wee the new 6 pack offer).  As a service to our customers we do assemble mixed cases to your specifications.  To compute the price, use the bottle prices listed, less the 10% case discount, plus freight and sales tax if applicable.


Thank you to the many who returned the survey.  You are the key to our continued success and Casa needs your feedback.  We are currently implementing many of the suggestions:


2 Bottles Casa Nuestra Dorado

3 Cups apple juice or cider

2 Cinnamon sticks

1 Orange, cut into quarters

10=12 Cloves (embedded into the skins of oranges)

¼ Cup honey (more if desired)

1 Mulling spice pouch* (optional)

 Simmer all ingredients together until hot – DO NOT BOIL – Serves 6-8

*Mulling spice pouches are available at liquor stores and some wine shops.  Mulling spices include dehydrated orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.  You can put these spices in a piece of cheesecloth secured with a string (like a tea bag), or put them into the pot with all the other ingredients and strain before serving.


May 1993

iNTRODUCING … 1989 Cabernet Franc

If it is true, as reported, that the average interval between purchase and consumption of a bottle of wine in California is 20 minutes, it seems likely that most wine is consumed long before it has reached its full potential.  Contra the trend, we are trying to extend the holding period at the winery for our wines, so that the aging potential will be at least partially realized at the time of release.  Thus, when most wineries are releasing their 1990 Cabernets, we are releasing our 1989.  We regret the hiatus in the supply, which occurred when the ’88 sold out at Christmas, but patience has improved the wine.  We believe you will thank us for it.

Like all the Casa red wines, the ’89 Cabernet Franc is remarkable for its delicacy and softness.  We have deliberately minimized filtration to preserve every possible flavor nuance.  Its color is a beautiful deep purple and it is intensely aromatic.  After almost 30 months in wood, this is a mature Bordeaux-style wine.  The oak flavors are subtle and the red-fruit berry flavors are strong.  You don’t need to wait to enjoy it, though your continued patience in the cellar will always be rewarded.  $172.80/case, plus $12.53 CA sales tax if applicable.


Tinto has surpassed Chenin Blanc as our best selling wine; and Tinto sales continue to increase, particularly from the sales room, where skeptics have the opportunity to taste.  We have tapped a great need for a moderately priced red wine which is soft and easy to drink without being wimpy or boring.  It took a little time for the nobility of this authentic Napa Valley field mix to gain recognition, but now people routinely come especially for the Tinto – even strangers who are drawn by its reputation.

Tinto is the product of a family vineyard planted some forty years ago by our predecessor at the Kirkham Oakville property.  The precise varietal constitution of this vineyard is not easily stated because the identification of some of the varieties is a matter of debate.  A fact never published before now is that the vineyard includes a small fraction of white grapes, French Colombard.  In the early days we blended the Colombard with the Chenin Blanc until it was pointed out that Chianti is traditionally about 15% white grapes.  Guess what?  The Colombard comprises about 15% by tonnage.  Nothing is by accident.

Most of the older Tinto vintages are available on our reserve list, including the historic first year, 1980, which is still in good shape.  The older Tintos have developed some sediment in the bottle.  Our filtration techniques were pretty primitive in the early days – a fact that probably makes the wines better today.  They will benefit from decanting.  If you are a Tinto loyalist (or even if you’re not), you should treat yourself to a splurge in the reserve list.  You won’t be disappointed.


Casa Nuestra will sponsor the Napa Valley Folk Festival again this year on October 8,9, and 10 at the Napa Expo Fairgrounds in Napa.  This year’s three-day musical extravaganza will present twenty musical performances featuring Sylvia Tyson, Peter Yarrow and Odetta.  Don’t miss it!  Get in on advance sale ticket discounts by writing to P.O. Box 10227, Napa, CA 94581 or telephone (707) 252-4813.


Within the next twelve months we will release six new wines:  1989 Cab Franc, 1991 Merlot, 1991 Tinto, 1988 Dorado, 1992 Chenin Blanc, 1992 Chardonnay.  Although we do not ordinarily ship in quantities less than a case, we’ve developed a plan to send out subscribers a two-bottle package of each wine as it is released.  This will permit subscribers to sample each wine before making case purchases.  The full subscription price is $163.00, which represents today’s bottle prices, less a 10% case discount, plus shipping.  (Customers outside of CA, OR, CO and NM add $20).  Your subscription will begin with two bottles of the just released ’89 Cabernet, which we will ship immediately.  This would make an outstanding present and a great way to introduce your friends to Casa Nuestra.


In 1989 we made our first ever Johannisberg Riesling.  The decision was somewhat inauspicious, arising from Beaulieu Vineyards’ failure to take the fruit according to contract.  Serendipitously, the Riesling proved a great success – winning two gold medals.  Since ’89 the fruit has been sold to Stags Leap Wine Cellars, where it has contributed to their famous Riesling vintages. We have no present plans to make Riesling again, though the requests to do so are becoming more numerous and urgent.  Our 1989 is still going strong:  off dry, well balanced, with intense varietal character; but the supply is down to 25 cases, so get it while you can.  $410/case plus $7.83 CA sales tax, if applicable.


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has determined that wine producers may not publish medical findings which reveal that the moderate consumption of wine is good for your health.  Wine producers are prohibited from disseminating medical evidence showing that two glasses of wine per day results in a 25 to 45% reduction in heart attacks.  Do not consult the “New England Journal of Medicine” or the Harvard School of Public Health on these matters, or you might learn that wine is a healthful beverage.


We do not ordinarily ship quantities less than a case of twelve bottles.  We will, however, make up a mixed case for you to your specifications.  To compute the price, use the bottle prices listed, less the 10% case discount, plus applicable freight and sales tax if within California.


In the year of its release, the 1987 Casa Cabernet Franc earned the gold medal and the Chairman’s Best of Class Award at the Los Angeles County Fair.  This vintage is a real show-stopper.  Recently, one of our wholesalers went out of business and I was able to recapture fifty cases of this special vintage.  About thirty cases are left on the reserve list.  We intend to sell 20 cases before limiting purchases to two bottles per customer.  $216/case, plus $15.66 CA sales tax if applicable.


If you’re a one- wine buyer, we would like you to try the entire family of great Casa wines. Here’s a chance to sample everything we are offering at present – and save over 20%.  And speaking of presents, this would make a great gift.  Is there an anniversary or a June wedding in your life?  The case contains two bottles of each of the following:  1989 Cabernet Franc, 1990 Tinto, 1991 Chardonnay, 1991 Chenin Blanc, 1989 Johannisberg Riesling, 1987 Dorado.  Total price:  $499, plus $47.18 CA sales tax, if applicable.