More than a few small wineries have started in a garage, but we may be the only Winery to begin that way, move on to bigger and better quarters, and still be in a garage. Founded in 1980 in a small garage on the outskirts of town, in 1982 the Winery moved to its present location, the historic Miners Foundry Garage, on Spring St in downtown Nevada City. Remarkably, the Winery is located less than two blocks from where the original Nevada City Winery stood over a century ago.
The Winery was begun by Allan Haley, a Nevada County native with a European wine education and a dream of bringing winemaking back to our region. In 1880 there were over 300 acres of grapes in the County. In 1980 when the Winery opened there was one small vineyard, recently planted. Twenty years later there are again well over 300 acres of grapes and the wine industry is flourishing once more.
We are extremely proud of our role in revitalizing the wine industry in Nevada County. Over the years Nevada City Winery has been recognized with numerous awards, including Best Zinfandel, Best Cabernet Franc, Best Syrah and Best Cabernet Sauvignon for the Sierra Foothill Region, awarded by the California State Fair.
The Winemaker – Mark Foster
When Mark joined the Winery team in time for the ’92 crush, he fit right in. His first degree was a B.S. in Biology, started at Cornell and finished at Arizona State. He continued, receiving a Masters in Zoology. He worked as a field biologist in the Arizona desert in the area of Limnology, the study of how a desert stream maintains itself. But Mark was hardly done educationally. He continued at Arizona State earning another Masters degree in Industrial Engineering and later worked on F-16 jet planes.
So where does wine come in? One summer a couple of biology friends were traveling to California to work for a Napa winery. Mark tagged along for the ride. Once bitten, forever smitten. He never left. Mark entered U.C. Davis and the result was yet another Masters degree, this time Enology.
After a stint as a cellar rat/assistant winemaker at Smothers Brothers Winery he applied for a job at Chalone. “I went in for the interview, but the president was late. While waiting, a cellar worker suggested I try some samples. There I was, alone in his office, drinking his wine. They were glorious! By the time he arrived I had already decided this was the wine I wanted to make. To my astonishment, he hired me.” The result was three years at Chalone followed by seven years as a winemaker at Madrona Winery before coming to Nevada City.
Why wine and why here? “First of all, for the philosophical scientist, wine is the perfect blend of art and science. My goal as a winemaker is to be creative and make great wine. Nevada City is the perfect place to blend experimentation with wonderful viticultural environment. The result? Great wines!”