Nichols Winery & Cellars

Central Coast AVA

The Nichols Winery uses strictly 100% French oak for aging,

Soleil & Terroir is translated to English as simply, Sun & Soil. However, there is no precise translation for the French term and concept of terroir. Suffice it to say that terroir is a combination of natural elements and conditions that include primarily soil, but also temperature, rainfall, sunlight energy, topography and geology. The holistic combination of all of these is held to give each site its own unique terroir.

“That’s why I chose the Central Coast area to make my wines,” says winery owner and winemaker, Keith Nichols, referring to the uniqueness of the Central Coast climate and geography. He had just finished explaining that between the foothills of the Sierra Madre on the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the south lies the only transverse coastal valley in California. Two rivers, the Santa Ynez and the Santa Maria, split the valley floor into separate east-west fingers. The valley is then wide open to Pacific winds and fog. The climate and an unusual combination of soils, makes this area potentially the equal of any winemaking region in the world.

“To make world-class wine you must start with the soil,” he continues. “That, together with the micro-climate, are two critical factors. Fine wine will then follow, with a little perseverance in the winemaking process.”

It sounds simple doesn’t it, but Keith Nichols knows you need both a scientific and artistic approach to winemaking. It is a combination of the two that results in great wine. “By selecting the right fruit and understanding its personality you can then determine what artistic approach and direction to take the wine through,” he believes.

Keith’s winemaking interest came relatively late in life. Born on a dairy farm in upstate New York, he grew up on the east coast. After graduating from high school he spent three years in the Navy as an Aviation Electronic Technician. After the Navy he settled in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he went to work for electronics firm Bunker Ramo.

When Bunker Ramo went through a series of consolidations, Keith ended up transferring to their office in the Los Angeles area. In California he began to pursue higher-education goals, first finishing college with a degree in Business Management from Pepperdine University. He then earned his MBA from California Lutheran University, and finally a specialized degree in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, in San Francisco.

During this time of intense study, Keith became interested in wine through a Gourmet Club he joined. The purpose of the Gourmet Club was essentially to share and enjoy fine dining experiences together. Club members gathered periodically to either prepare gourmet meals together or meet at fine dining spots throughout the Los Angeles area. It was through the Gourmet Club that he developed his love for fine food and fine wines. “After a while of doing this, it occurred to me that winemaking would be a great career to pursue, so I became immersed in learning everything I could about wines,” Keith revealed.

To further develop his understanding of wine and the winemaking process, Keith traveled to Bordeaux, France to visit various winemaking establishments in the Medoc, St. Julien, Pauillac and Pomerol regions, such as Chateau Latour, Margaux, and Pich-Longueville-de-Lalande.

Upon his return to California, Keith immediately set up shop. In 1991, he established Nichols Winery & Cellars. Five years later, Keith introduced his Soleil & Terroir brand of premium wines. “From the outset, my goal has been to produce nothing short of world-class quality wines,” he says assuredly. Indeed, both labels offer among the highest quality wines available today but differ slightly in the winemaking process. The Nichols line uses strictly 100% French oak for aging, whereas the Soleil & Terroir utilizes both French & American oak.


Letter to Platinum Series Wine Club Members

It is with pleasure that I share a little bit of God’s nectar with you!
Making wine is like raising children. They all have their own individual character and unique attributes. As they mature and develop, you grow very close to them. There finally comes a time at which you must let them go. Knowing the wine is going into good hands makes it a little easier to let go. Please enjoy this 1996 Nichols Pinot Noir, Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard wine!

All Nichols Pinot Noirs are produced in the traditional Burgundian style and techniques, fermented in small open top fermenters to facilitate maximum flavor and color extraction. Pinot Noir is aged in 100% French Oak from the Allier, Never and Trocais Forest for eleven (11) months. The wine is further aged for an additional 9 months in the bottle. Aging in the bottle allows the wine to rest and round out its natural fruit flavor and aromatic attributes.
Knowing that you are enjoying the wine gives me great pleasure and makes me very humble.