Tasting Rutherford Wineries in 2 Days

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Dusty and earthy aren’t common words used to describe wine, but the Rutherford wines located in northern Napa Valley are the exception. The area’s rich red wines are known for their elegant and full bodied flavors such as black-currant, cedar, cassis, black licorice, spice box, and cherry which have made the Cabernet Sauvignon famous. If you’re traveling to this premiere grape growing area, we’ve compiled a list of wineries you should definitely check out.

Day 1

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Image Source: Yelp

Sequoia Grove Winery
8338 St Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 944-2945
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 43 reviews
Reservations: Not required
Directions: Head northwest on Highway 29 toward Bella Oaks Lane. Turn right on Highway 128 east and Sequoia Grove will be on the right.

Rustic and secluded as its name implies, Sequoia Grove Winery started out in a century old barn. Keeping with its historic vibe, the barn is now a tasting room surrounded by a peaceful patio shaded by sequoia trees. Relax with a picnic and a glass of wine while enjoying tastings of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the seasonal wines such as the “Rebellious Red” and “Rollicking Rose”. Insider tip: Book “A Taste for Cabernet” and you will not only learn food pairing, but you will understand why the Rutherford area wines are so special.

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Image Source: St Supery Estate Vineyards

St Supery Estate Vineyards
8440 St Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-4507
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 80 reviews
Reservations: Required
Directions: From Sequoia Grove, turn right onto Hwy 29 and follow north for half a mile. Turn right and wind through the roundabout until you see the winery entrance on right.

WIth the Rutherford area known for its rich and dark red wines, St Supery stands out because of its white wine. It’s a hard choice between the Sauvignon Blanc and the popular Moscato, but with its many tastings, including the Estate and Single Vine Tastings, you will be able to try both. Stay a little longer for the Wine and Cheese Pairing, the Veggie and Vino tasting or the Aromatherapy with a Corkscrew tasting. Inside, experience their contemporary tasting room with ample sunlight through the windows. Outside, relax, play a game of bocce ball, and enjoy the quiet grounds. Insider tip: Looking for a great dinner spot after your tastings? Drive about five minutes north to PRESS where you can enjoy one of Napa Valley’s best steak dinners.

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Image Source: Yelp

Inglenook
1991 St. Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 968-1161
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 205 reviews
Reservations: Strongly recommended
Directions: From St Supery Estate, turn right on Highway 29 and follow one mile. Inglenook will be on the left.

Inglenook’s colorful history extends way back to the mid 19th century and includes everything from pioneering the theory of cellular temperatures to receiving a perfect 100 points from Wine Spectator in 1941 for its Cabernet Sauvignon. After several ownership changes, the winery was bought by Francis and Eleanor Coppola in 1975 returning it back to top-in-class status. Inglenook’s tasting room reflects their history, with rich wooden furnishings and vineyard views from the terrace. The popular Rubicon, with its aromas of currants, black cherries, blackberries, cinnamon, and floral notes, uses grapes from the original vines owner Gustave Neibaum brought back from France in the late 1800’s. CASK, with its black cherry, strawberry, and raspberry aromas, is another highly rated Cabernet. Want something other than a red wine? Try the flagship white wine, Blancaneuax Premieres. The Heritage Tour, which includes tastings of the estate wines, is a must if you want to taste the Rubicon. Interested in the grounds and how the winery got started? Take one of the 90 minute guided tours which covers it all including the inside of the Inglenook mansion. Insider tip: Enjoy snacks and coffee in The Bistro and be sure to check out the gift shop where you will find many items the Coppolas picked out from their many trips and movie premieres.

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Image Source: Yelp

Elizabeth Spencer Wines
1165 Rutherford Rd
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-6067
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 51 reviews
Reservations: Recommended
Directions: From Inglenook, continue north on Highway 29. Turn right on Highway 128 east. Elizabeth Spencer will on the right.

Enter Elizabeth Spencer and you will be greeted by a friendly staff and a complimentary glass of wine. Located in the historic Rutherford Post Office, Elizabeth Spencer is the perfect alternative to the large wineries in the Rutherford area. Quaint, elegant, and relaxing, the garden patio setting is the ideal place to enjoy an intimate tasting with friends. Be sure to ask for the Charter Tasting where you will taste wines from both the Elizabeth Spencer label and the EXS label. Insider tip: Ask for the buttery breadsticks to tide you over between meals.

Day 2

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Image Source: Yelp

Beaulieu Vineyard
1960 Saint Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 967-5233
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 119 reviews
Reservations: Not required
Directions: From Highway 128 west and drive a short distance to Highway 29. Turn right onto Highway 29 and then make another quick right into Beaulieu Vineyard.

One of the oldest wineries in the Rutherford area, Beaulieu made a name for itself in the early days of Napa Valley wine by importing Phylloxera-resistant rootstock from Europe and basically saving the California wine industry. Today, Beaulieu leads the industry with clonal research that has made a name paved the way for its BV Clone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Come and taste for yourself with the Reserve Cabernet Tasting—a showcase of the unique vineyard and clonal selections and a taste of the Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon which is now one of the most collected American Cabernets. Be sure to differentiate the two tasting rooms—the Maestro Tasting Room pours wines exclusive to the winery and the Reserve Tasting Room hosts the more expensive and vintage Georges de Latour Private Reserve & Library Collections. Grab some cheese and a baguette available for purchase and enjoy a picnic outside. Insider tip: Take a bottle of BV next door to Rutherford Grill for a fantastic lunch or dinner. No corkage fee.

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Image Source: Yelp

Frog’s Leap Winery
8815 Conn Creek Rd
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-4704
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 406 reviews
Reservations: Strongly recommended
Directions: From Beaulieu Vineyard, drive southeast to Highway 128 east and turn left. Follow for two miles. Frog’s Leap will be on the right.

Looking for the perfect wine tasting experience? Frog’s Leap comes very close. Not only did Frog’s Leap pioneer organically grown grapes, it also paved the way for non irrigated grapevines which bring out the flavor of the soil and climate in the wines. While the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are a must, be sure to try the Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Sirah. Upon arrival you’ll be welcomed by the winery’s bright red barn, but don’t expect a rustic farmhouse. Inside, sit in the modern tasting room along the reclaimed wood dining table or next to the large fireplace. If you can’t decide which wines to taste, reserve the Garden Tasting where you will enjoy four current releases while strolling around the property or relaxing in an adirondack chair on the wrap around porch. Since you can’t bring a picnic, the tastings provide complementary cheese, nuts, and crackers. Pets are welcome and know you will be greeted by the resident four legged hostess, Abbie. Insider tip: Are you the designated driver? Be sure to try the “water tasting”—four mysterious glasses of flavor infused water.

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Image Source: Yelp

Rutherford Hill Winery
200 Rutherford Hill Rd
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-1871
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 137 reviews
Reservations: Not required
Directions: From Frog’s Leap, turn left onto Highway 128 east. Follow for one mile and turn left onto Silverado Trail south. Drive for another mile and turn right onto Rutherford Hill Road. The winery is on the left.

Taking advantage of the area’s lush, purple-black grapes, Rutherford Hill pioneered California Merlot. From the largest caves in Napa Valley to the oldest olive grove in the area, this winery is the one you want to visit if you plan to take your time with a tour and tastings. While you explore the relaxed tasting room, make sure to stop by the cave entrance, where inside hangs chandeliers from stone ceilings to create a more intimate vibe. Merlot fans can take the “Blend Your Own Merlot” program which includes a tour, tasting, and bottle of their very own creation. Insider tip: Be sure to stop by the Oakville Grocery on your way to grab sandwiches for the picnic and then purchase the Rutherford chocolate covered blueberries for dessert.

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Image Source: Yelp

ZD Wines
8383 Silverado Tr
Napa, CA 94558
(800) 487-7757
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 54 reviews
Reservations: Required
Directions: From Rutherford Hill Winery, drive northwest on Rutherford Hill Road. Continue a half mile and turn left on Silverado Trail Road. Take Silverado a mile and you will see the winery on the right.

Founded by two aerospace engineers, Norman deLeuze and Gino Zepponi, ZD Wines was started as a family owned business and continues to be family run to this day. Not only does the name capture the founder’s initials, but it also stands for “Zero Defects” a common acronym among the space race back in the 1960s. Certified green, ZD Wines practices its strong conviction of a non-toxic approach to winemaking and has made its mark among the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the area. The hardest part about visiting the estate is deciding which tour and tasting to reserve. From the Eco tour to the Library Selection tour, you will be amazed at the vast array of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. After experiencing the cozy tasting room, venture to the patio where you’ll find a rose garden planted by the deLeuze matriarch, Pearl. Insider tip: If you’re looking to really splurge and enjoy five star treatment, sign up for the Abacus Wine Tasting and Private Cellar Tour. It’s pricey, but absolutely worth it if only for the Chocolate Truffle served for dessert at the end.

Most people know Napa Valley as a wonderful wine destination. The Rutherford area is no exception. Rich and lush, its Cabernet Sauvignon will always set the area apart from the rest of the world. Be sure to experience it on your next wine tasting adventure.