written BY CHARLENE PETERS | Hero photo by Bob McClenahan

With its status as America’s top food and wine destination—and with well over 500 wineries to visit—calling any experience in Napa Valley “new” verges on hyperbole, but that is precisely what New Frontier Wine Company has created in downtown Napa. Combining bottles from legendary Napa Valley vineyards and international wines in a lounge-like space, New Frontier Wine Co. has launched a thoroughly novel tasting experience for visitors and locals alike.

Photo by Nicole Ravicchio

Rather than showcasing the wines of a single estate, the relaxed lounge offers guests a range of wines—from standard-bearing regions like Bordeaux to boundary-pushing estates in Patagonia and Beckstoffer Heritage vineyards. The family of brands, which includes 100-point-scoring Lithology in addition to Waypoint, Pursuit, and Justice, shares centralized ownership under the guidance of global humanitarian and farmer Alejandro Bulgheroni. Inspired by the infinite permutations of terroir, the NFWCo. umbrella allows visitors to the tasting lounge to experience 44 wines in a single space—customizing each experience to the tastes of every guest.

The expansive selection from the world’s top sites is reason enough to visit NFWCo., but its tasting lounge with plush leather chairs set amid a casual living-room-styled environment and hours that cater to after-work schedules takes visiting Napa up a notch.

For wine connoisseurs especially, the impact of NFWCo.’s innovative offerings is massive: The vast array of wines available—and available to taste—means there’s no need to secure allocations or purchase top-rated wines overseas. With its range of prices, from approachable to the special occasion bottle, NFWCo.’s collection offers global flavors to all drinkers.

“You don’t come here by accident,” said Managing Director James Silver, who also serves as an importer in the company. “You come here specifically for the wine.”


Photo by Nicole Ravicchio


The tasting lounge, centrally located in downtown Napa, offers multiple tasting options, including a by-the-glass pour, often starting at $10. For those who prefer a more formal tasting, there are menu options to select a flight with prices ranging from $25 to $100. Opening hours cater to local residents whose work schedules may prevent a visit to most wineries that close at 4 pm.

NFWCo. welcomes walk-ins and reservations by appointment until 6 pm or 7 pm, depending on the season, a schedule unheard of in most tasting rooms within California. Its 100-point wine-tasting experience, while seated in one of several coves and nooks designed with laid-back luxury in mind, confirms there’s no better place to sip top-rated wines of the world.

The collection of wines curated by Silver includes Lithology, Justice, Waypoint, Pursuit, Renwood, Alkina, Otronia, and Devoción. And NFWCo.’s domestic offerings include wines from undisputed top vineyards such as Beckstoffer’s To Kalon, Dr. Crane, Las Piedras, and Georges III vineyards, and Ritchie, to name a handful.


Photo by Nicole Ravicchio


While the name “New Frontier” would be a fitting title—given the team’s tasting lounge offerings alone, there’s more to New Frontier than an innovative tasting menu. The name is a nod to the 1960 nomination acceptance speech of presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, in which he addressed the nation’s challenges and the opportunities that could be realized by confronting them. Kennedy’s description of “a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils— a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats” prophesied America’s future. The NFWCo. draws a parallel between these ideas, the challenges, and the opportunities confronting the wine industry today.

The collection strives to push the limits of premium viticulture and winemaking, thus exploring and exposing the “new frontiers” of wine—including extreme vineyards in Patagonia and Australia. Through the brand’s centralized ownership, the wineries can pool their collective resources and expertise across continents, creating exceptional wines that deliciously present their unique terroirs.

NFWCo. approaches the challenges of a changing climate, sustainability, and new generations’ evolving attitudes toward wine with the same optimistic ethos as the then-presidential nominee Kennedy. These ideas include utilizing technology and teamwork to approach today’s challenges facing the wine industry. By combining the expertise of world-renowned winemakers and farming experts around the globe, NFWCo. is confident in its ability to continue to push the boundaries of winemaking into new frontiers.


Photo by Nicole Ravicchio


The local team at NFWCo. includes some of California’s most awarded winemakers: Matt Sands, Michel Rolland, Philippe Melka, Maayan Koschitzky, Alberto Antonini, Joe Shebl, and Juan Pablo Murgia. The team blends each wine together, resulting in truly complex bottlings that impress on the table.

Matt Sands, the winemaker for Lithology who leads winemaking initiatives for all of New Frontier’s domestic wines, is a native of New Zealand’s tiny Waiheke Island. He received his education there at New Zealand’s Eastern Institute of Technology, and he learned winemaking locally and through internships at Napa Valley icons Screaming Eagle and Bryant Estate. At Bryant Estate, Sands met the French-American winemaker Philippe Melka. The two stayed connected over the years, and in 2015, when Sands and his family moved to California full-time, Melka referred him to the Lithology project in St. Helena, where he’s been ever since.

Time spent with Melka at Lithology and NFWCo. offered Sands a valuable lesson in how vintages perform when blending more restrained wines. It also doesn’t hurt that Melka and Sands are often joined by French celebrity wine consultant Michel Rolland. Rolland’s expertise has helped craft Lithology wines, as does the expertise of Napa Valley star Maayan Koschitsky.

Sands and these esteemed wine industry greats collaborate to finalize the blending of premium-style wines. The intricate task of vinification is where Sands completes 80 percent of the winemaking before team blending sessions begin—a process that can include upwards of 48 lots of Cabernet Sauvignon.

“With Philippe on my left shoulder and Michel on my right, they’re like songwriters,” said Silver, with obvious reverence for Rolland’s ability to blend several lots into a composed release. Rolland assists in identifying missing components before handing over his picks to Melka. “Rolland’s accuracy is intimidating. It’s like watching a virtuoso.”

Sands shared how Lithology’s premium wines, such as the impressive 2019 “Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard” and “Beckstoffer To Kalon” Cabernet Sauvignon are the result of access to unique terroirs.

“It’s not just the climate of To Kalon that’s good,” said Sands. “It’s the particular climate that, combined with the alluvial soil, gives an expression of Cabernet Sauvignon that is fruit forward and unique.”

Sands’ goal is to develop a brand identity that caters to those who seek sensory discovery through the adventure of wine tasting. Influenced by his global experience, including training at Passage Rock, Man O’ War, and Stonyridge Vineyard, Sands crafts authentic expressions of each vineyard site.

At NFWCo.’s chic lounge, Sands’ wines are served side-by-side with international bottlings from the collection, including Australia’s Alkina, Argentina’s Otronia and Devoción labels, and Bordeaux estates Château de Bleyzac, Château Maubert, and Château de Langalerie.

Combining diverse wines in a welcoming space at hours and prices that appeal to all, New Frontier Wine Co. thoughtfully reimagines the modern wine-tasting experience. Despite their central location in a region dominated by tradition, NFWCo. is pushing the boundaries with its refreshing, original, and delicious experiences.

FOR MORE INFORMATION www.newfrontierwines.com