I will openly confess that not all tasting rooms and tours are for everyone. I didn’t love the Rutherford Hill tour and tasting experience. It was a bit commercial for me. The grounds were lush and beautiful and the tour guide, Jimmie, was a passionate ambassador of the brand. While the facility was impressive, I wouldn’t describe it as a “must-see vineyard”, nor would I describe the wines as “must drink”.
Rutherford Hill was started by Pillsbury in the 1970’s. The winery was originally called Souverain of Rutherford, but the company sold the winery after three years. The winery produced white wines until it was sold. When the Jaeger family purchased the winery from Pillsbury, they changed the name and decided to focus on red wines.
What makes the Rutherford Hill winery unique are its caves. Almost a mile long, the caves of Rutherford Hill are some of the only caves in Napa Valley and store more than 8,000 barrels of wine. Realizing that caves provide an ideal environment to nurture and protect wines as they age, Rutherford Hill was one of the first and is still one of the few wineries in Napa Valley to build caves. The caves make the tour different from some of the other vineyards you visit.
Touring the winery was informative.
On the tour we learned that 2012 was a great year for grapes in Napa, and the harvest produced great wines. The employees at Rutherford Hill talked about energy efficiency and the strides they are taking to improve sustainability. Following the tour, we had several wines and were treated to blueberries covered in chocolate. The blueberries paired well with the port.
I know that many visitors to the winery have picnics at the vineyard. The scenery was beautiful and I can see why you’d want to eat there. There are beautiful, sweeping views of the valley. However, I didn’t care for the wines and felt that the tour and vineyard were commercial and the wines were below average. Something to consider when you’re building your itinerary.
The tasting fee was $30.00 per person, and included the tour. If you go, be sure to check Facebook and Four Square first. The winery offers check in specials to reduce the cost!