GRAPHIC, B/W, Suzy Parker, USA TODAY (MAP); Where heaven is made: The Far Niente caves in Oakville, totaling 4,000 square feet beneath the winery and nearby hillsides, provide optimum temperatures for storing and aging. Vintage Hollywood: The mansion at Spring Hill Mountain Vineyard near St. Helena was a backdrop for the 1980s TV series Falcon Crest.
Gil Nickel bought the estate in 1979, spent three years restoring it and created what would become one of the country's most prestigious wineries. Nickel died last fall, and the winery partners agreed to open Far Niente to the public by appointment. Tours take visitors to the gardens, which are said to include the largest planting of Southern azaleas in California, a 40,000-square-foot wine cave, a tri-level winery and a carriage house containing Nickel's collection of classic automobiles. The winery charges $40 for a tour and a tasting of the estate's wines., which include Dolce, a small-production dessert wine that has achieved cult status.
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