Pestoni Family Estate Winery, formerly Rutherford Grove, was founded in 1993 by the Pestoni Family who interestingly enough also run a garbage disposal company in the Upper Napa Valley area. Garbage and wine – well, that part of their business remains totally separate from the winery! This family has a long history in the valley dating back to the 1880’s when the first family member immigrated to the Napa area from Switzerland.
This is truly a family owned and operated winery – Andy Pestoni, the winemaker is a 4th generation family member. The winery is located off of the west side of Highway 29 just north of Provenance Winery and is surrounded by their own estate vineyards. They own about 40 acres in the Napa Valley area plus a mountain vineyard in Lake County to the north. They use estate grown grapes in all their wines.
The Pestoni’s manage their own vineyards which is actually becoming more and more rare in today’s climate of wineries using professional vineyard management companies. Their total production is under 10,000 cases a year which by winery standards for those who have tasting rooms along Highway 29, is not large. The tasting room atmosphere is relaxed and friendly although as with other nearby wineries during busy days, the tasting room can become quite crowded. This is a good tasting room to meet other wine enthusiasts; the several times we have dropped by on the weekends there has always been a welcoming crowd!
When you walk into the tasting room note their creative use of recycled materials from the old ranch – the lights are covered with old chicken brooders (used for raising and keeping small chickens warm) and the oak bar used to be part of a huge fermentation tank. A window behind the tasting counter opens into their barrel room and winery. Because this winery is small and family owned often you might find a family member helping out behind the bar.
A tasting typically starts with their Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel and then you get to choose several other wines. Their focus is on red wines including Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah & Sangiovese. A perk to tasting here is the free use of their large picnic grounds in the back of the winery as well as their bocce ball court. They often hold club member get-togethers and dinners as well as special events including wine and cheese pairings and a rare (held 1x/year) barrel tasting with their winemaker. Parking is plentiful with an additional overflow lot in the back
About 50% of their production is their popular Sauvignon Blanc which is the only white wine they make. We tried the 2006 vintage which was entirely aged in stainless steel (no oak). As a result it is fairly crisp and clean with true varietal characteristics represented both in aroma and on the palate. There are lots of citrus notes in flavor with a nice finish.
Two lighter style wines are their 2006 Quackenbush Mountain Zinfandel (Lake County vineyard) and the 2006 Estate Sangiovese from the vineyard directly in front of the winery. The Zinfandel is quite refreshing as it is not a huge, bold, jammy and spicy Zinfandel that is often produced in California. For a lighter styled wine, the Sangiovese has a surprisingly long finish. The 2005 Howell Mountain Estate Reserve Cabernet is a winner (blended with 25% Merlot which helps soften the wine). The vineyard itself grows on thin rocky soils, stressing the vines and in part producing small berries that contain concentrated flavors.
For a mountain grown wine, the tannin management has been conducted very successfully as this is a wine that can easily be consumed young, yet at the same time has the structure and acidity for long term aging. Nice smoky cigar type aromas interwoven with ripe blackberry dominate the nose followed by the palate which is rich in flavor yet very smooth. There is just a touch of vanilla on the finish.
Also note the Pestoni Family owns and operates a small Bed & Breakfast in Calistoga called Hotel d’Amici. With only four rooms, all very tastefully decorated be sure to reserve well in advance. Visit: www.hoteldamici.com
Not to be outdone by the winery, garbage company and B&B, the Pestonis also make their own grape seed oil (cold pressed) under the name, Napa Valley Grape Seed Oil Co. Visit: www.napavalleygrapeseedoil.com Bottles of this and other souvenirs are found next to their tasting room. Visit: www.pestonifamily.com