The Story of Niner Wine Estates
Niner Wine Estates is the visionary initiative of Richard Niner, who believes that a blend of exceptional people, vineyards, tools, and ideas is the key to creating world-class wines and providing a one-of-a-kind experience in the heart of Paso Robles wine country. Founded in 2001, Niner Wine Estates is dedicated to making exceptional wines using the best of traditional winemaking methods and cutting-edge technologies. Owner Dick Niner’s attachment to Paso Robles and the bounty of its land came from his early upbringing on a rural farm in West Virginia.
Niner followed a somewhat unusual path from farm to vineyard; out of Princeton University and Harvard Business School, he spent over 30 years successfully investing in small businesses, most of them turn-arounds. It was, in fact, a business deal that first brought him to San Luis Obispo County in 1996. That deal led him to spend large amounts of time in the county, and re-kindled his interest in farming and the wine industry. Bootjack Ranch, a 224 acre property on Highway 46 East in Paso Robles, became the foundation of Niner Wine Estates in February, 2001. It was followed two years later by the acquisition of 139 acre Heart Hill Vineyard, which gets its name from a natural oak-tree filled depression on the hillside near the road in the perfect shape of a heart.
Having purchased Bootjack Ranch, which then had 54 acres planted to seven varietals, Niner realized his need for a first-rate viticulturist. Distinguished winegrower Jim Smoot had helped him with the due diligence on the property, and then signed on to stay with Bootjack as a consultant, until his passing in 2007. Jerry Grant came on board as the day-to-day property manager. Working closely together, Jim Smoot and Jerry Grant formed a remarkable team. Under their combined leadership, Bootjack Ranch was developed into one of the leading vineyards in the area. An additional 30 acres of vines were planted at Bootjack Ranch in the spring of 2010.
While searching for a full-time, superstar winemaker, Niner signed on legendary winemaker Chuck Ortman to advise, consult, and get the first vintage started - the 2003 vintage. In 2004 Amanda Cramer came on as full-time winemaker.
Construction is complete on the state-of-the-art and newly LEED Silver certified gravity flow winery and the elegant stone barn Hospitality Center on the Heart Hill property on the west side of Paso Robles. A total of 46 acres of vines are planted; the first 18 acres were planted in the spring of 2007.
The inaugural vintage from Niner Wine Estates was released in January of 2006. Varietal wines currently include Sauvignon blanc, Sangiovese Rosato, Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah; red blends include a Sangiovese-based blend called Super Paso, a fun no-rules blend called Twisted Spur and a barrel-select blend of traditional Bordeaux varieties called Fog Catcher.