Napa Valley's Dolce Winery is the only winery in North America that is solely devoted to producing a single, late harvest wine. It is one of the few wineries in the world willing to make such a commitment, sharing a common philosophy with the great Sauternes producers of Bordeaux.
Named from the Italian phrase Dolce Far Niente – sweet doing nothing – Dolce (pronounced dol' chay) began in 1985 as an idea over a glass of Chardonnay at Far Niente. What started as a project to make a tiny quantity of late harvest wine for the personal enjoyment of the owners, has evolved into the most recognizable and highly rated late harvest wine produced in North America.
By its nature, Dolce is a rare wine that cannot be produced every year. Dolce is made when a natural, beneficial mold called botrytis cinerea attacks the grapes on the vine, while evaporating the water content and concentrating the sugars, acids and flavors. The inaugural 1985 vintage yielded only six barrels, and production grew to nine barrels in 1986. The 1987 vintage was not fine enough to be bottled and 1988 was so warm that no botrytis formed and the grapes were never harvested. The 1989 vintage was the first commercial release of Dolce and it was introduced to the market in 1992.
More than a decade after its commercial debut, Dolce has been able to produce wine in every vintage since 1989. The quantity has varied greatly, from as few as 300 cases to as many as 3,000, depending on how much botrytis develops each year. Dolce is produced from its own 20-acre vineyard in the Coombsville area, east of the city of Napa.