The Juice

Producer Profile: Bon Niche Cellars

Glass Logo10One of our newest PRCC members is Bon Niche Cellars, owned by Joyce and Wally Murray.

Bon Niche, roughly translated from the French as “a very good place,” is truly on the outskirts of the Paso Robles AVA, far from the path of wine tasting buses and limousines. But despite being on the fringe geographically, Bon Niche and its owners, Wally and Joyce Murray, have been in the spotlight with several awards and honors for their powerful yet plush, well-structured, velvet-tannin wines. In fact, when the Murrays released the first Bon Niche Cellars vintage in 2010, every wine entered into competition received an award, including a Four-Star Gold Medal for both the 2010 Voûtes (Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon) and 2010 Chemin (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot) at the Orange County Fair.


Like so many producers in our area, the Murrays landed in the Paso Robles AVA after a long hunt for the right vineyard property on which to stake their winemaking vision. Purchased in 2005, the Bon Niche estate boasts rich soils, hot days and cool nights in which the Murray’s Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc thrive, though Bon Niche wines are also sourced from nearby vineyards to make both varietal and blended wines in a Bordeaux style, “with a touch of Rhône.”

Bon Niche Cellars began in 2005 when Wally and Joyce Murray started their quest to find vineyard property in the Central Coast of California.  The result of the search was a beautiful slope with a spectacular view of the distant hills.  The rich soil, hot days and brisk nights were perfect for the French varietals that grow so well in the Paso Robles terroir.  The Murray’s vineyard was quickly planted with Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  Combined with fruit from nearby vineyards both straight varietals and artisan blends are primarily Bordeaux style with a touch of Rhone.

While Bon Niche’s far-flung location is prohibitive to opening the tasting room doors on a regular basis, tastings are available by appointment.  Bon Niche Cellars is located at 2627 Golden Eagle Way in San Miguel, CA 93451. Contact them at 805.286.7798 or

PRCC Mid-Winter Weather Report

“The current rainfall season, which runs from July to June has yielded scant precipitation in town. There was a trace of rain in October, .27 inches in November, .30 inches on December 3, giving a pre-storm total of .57-inches, according to city records. The Paso Robles Water Divison has recorded an average annual rainfall total of 14.33 inches since 1942.”

 “Paso Robles graced with rainfall,” Scott Brennan, Paso Robles Press, Feb. 3, 2014


As an organization that represents Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux-varietal producers in Paso Robles, the weather and its oddities more than interest us – often, they consume us. So just imagine how consuming the Central Coast’s recent warm, dry temperatures have been to us winemakers and vineyard managers!

We asked some of our members about their take on the drought, how it affects their vines and wines, and what they’re doing with the cards Mother Nature has dealt them.

“At Paso de Record Vineyard, we are currently irrigating to build the soil moisture profile and checking for bud swell to time pruning. We like to prune as late as possible to avoid frost damage in the spring but because of the warm temperatures we anticipate having to prune sooner than usual. Due to the dry conditions, we are also discussing how we are going to modify our farming methods for possible lower-than-average yields.”

Tricia Record Swartz, Owner, Record Family Wines


“Do you think it will ever rain again?

When we started our project after what we thought was many hours of research to insure success, we believed we were moving forward with our eyes wide open.  In the first years we were met with adequate or in some cases more rain than we needed. Those were the times we couldn’t get in the vineyard to work because of our ‘normal’ rainfall.

We were stunned when the rains virtually stopped three years ago believing that this was an anomaly,however the result over the past years, and the current outlook, has caused us to take steps to conserve and protect our precious water supply.  Now we pray for rain regularly.”

Wally Murray, Owner, Bon Niche Cellars


“The drought will test the water holding capacity of our clay soils; but perhaps provide an opportunity for some remarkable wines.”

Jack Messina, Owner, Jada Vineyards & Winery


“We are hopeful that it will be a wet spring, we have opened up the ground and prepared the soil in our Estate vineyard to catch every drop of rain we can get. We are using sustainable farming methods including some Biodynaimc farming practices to bring our vineyards back into balance after such a dry couple of years. This year we are spreading organic compost in the vineyard to compensate for any loss of organic matter from cover crops that we might get due to low rainfall.”

David Galzignato, Winemaker, Jada Vineyards & Winery