Rutherford Ranch Winery (founded 1978) produces some of the more affordably priced wines in all of Napa Valley, especially from their Round Hill label (they have seven different labels in their portfolio). Well-known wine writer, Robert Parker calls their wines one of the best values coming from a California Cabernet Sauvignon producer.
Rutherford Ranch is owned by the Zaninovich family who were originally shareholders until the founding husband/wife team retired. The Zaninovich’s come from an agricultural background and own several other wine brands. Round Hill in fact, used to be the name of this winery. Grapes for their Round Hill label come from all over California while grapes for their main Rutherford Ranch label are sourced exclusively from the Napa Valley. In addition, Scott Family Estate wines are poured here. These are Chardonnay and Pinot noir from the family vineyards in the Arroyo Seco appellation in Monterey County. Also look for Lander-Jenkins Vineyards, Predator, Rhiannon and Silver Buckle Wines.
Some Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on site just behind the winery at the base of the hills and they source the rest of the grapes for their Rutherford Ranch wines from select Napa vineyards. Prices are quite reasonable for Napa standards (depending on which label) with a number of their wines priced in the under $50 range including their Napa Valley Cabernet! Rutherford Ranch is located on the east side of Silverado Trail among old oak and olive trees. With tables and chairs in front of the tasting room, this is a fine place to relax while you sip their food friendly wines.
As of the time of this review, they offer a variety of tasting flights including a Reserve Tasting, a Cabernet Sauvignon only tasting and a cholcate add on tasting that pairs their reserve wines with several chocolates.
For more in depth visits, the winery offers some neat experiences including a vineyard tour paired with a box lunch, a sensory analysis seminar and a blending seminar.
The 2005 Zinfandel which was almost sold out the time of our tasting (a popular wine) it has pleasant smoky white pepper characteristics and is not jammy but rather fruit forward with an elegant finish. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a great deal as it is one of the few Napa Cabernet’s priced under $20. We tried the 2005 vintage; the tannins are well balanced, with lots of fruit flavors. The Moscato is delicious because it is a light wine, is not syrupy, is not a huge sweet fruit bomb and is not high in alcohol.
Their 2005 Rouge Zinfandel Port on the other hand, is a very rich full bodied wine with lots of sweet cherry fruit flavors especially on the mid palate. Dip your cigar in this wine or pair it with chocolate. This port is popular as when we were there someone made a beeline for the tasting counter to try this wine and ended up buying a case! Be sure to also try their reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and also their Rhianon blended wine.
The 2013 Rutherford Ranch Merlot shows pink purple in the glass with floral notes on the bouquet (dried rose petal), raspberry and freshly squeezed red cherries. These are tender aromas that tend towards lighter red fruits rather than darker fruits. Texturally the wine is soft in the mouth (medium bodied) and presents decent acidity. Fine grained and slightly chalky tannins linger delicately. This is a versatile wine that should pair well with a number of lighter styled dishes.
The 2012 Rutherford Ranch Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is not distributed, rather it is only available to wine club members and to visitors at the winery. On the bouquet it shows some baking spice, red cherry, blackberry and some noticeable dustiness. The fruit is focused, very balanced on the palate with a red cherry, red currant tartness that lingers. The tannins are slightly dusty and frames the fruit on the finish very well.
They do a number of private labels, their closest client being the famed Auberge du Soleil resort just up the hill. Private tastings can be arranged. Inquire for details. Also consider signing up for their “Rutherford Dirt” which is their online mailing list. Visit: www.rutherfordranch.com