Rutherford Ranch (founded 1978) produces some of the more affordably priced wines in all of Napa Valley, especially from their Round Hill label (they have 4 different labels). The famed 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’s who were originally shareholders until the founding husband/wife team retired. The Zaninovich’s come from an agricultural family and run several other wineries in Central California. 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.
They have a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon planted on site just behind the winery at the base of the hills and source the rest of the fruit from select Napa vineyards. Prices start at approximately $5 bottle with most of their wines priced under $20/bottle including their Napa Valley Cabernet! Rutherford Ranch is located right off the east side of Silverado Trail set among old oak and olive trees. Its a great place for relaxing while you sip some wine. Look for their “Port and Chocolate” sign which is always located on the edge of the road during their normal business hours.
As of press time, they offer three tasting flights – their normal wines, Estate & Red wines, and a “sweet” tasting which includes a Moscato and a Zinfandel Port (served with chocolate). Again, both wines are priced very decently. We tried 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. 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
Wine with Tony