We visited Rutherford Hill Winery several times recently for various events and wine tastings with friends. One of these events included their members only cave tour and tasting. We were lucky enough to have had as our host and wine educator Jimmie for several of these visits. He’s both sweet and knowledgeable, and I would highly recommend that you ask for him personally when you visit.
You may remember that we highlighted Rutherford Hill Merlot as one of our Affordable Wines Of The Week. That is their retail product, they don’t even sell at the winery. You can only buy that at retailers like Bevmo, Costco, restaurants and grocery stores. The price is in the sub $20 region. As awesome as it is, it doesn’t even come close to the quality of the stuff that they keep to sell at the winery. (It isn’t in the same price range either.)
We were first introduced to Rutherford Hill by close friends who are members there. One visit, and The Brit and I were both in love with both the place and the wine. It wasn’t long before we too were members. There are many wineries in Napa where I like some of their wines very much, but only one or two where I love their entire range. Rutherford Hill is one of those for me. Just about every wine in their line up speaks to me and I enjoy drinking it. Even the Sauvignon Blanc! The only other two that are so consistently enjoyable to my palate are Luna, and Domaine Carneros.
My favorites of their lineup are their Peak series: Atlas Peak, Cardinals Peak, Angels Peak, and Devils Peak. They are their signature Bordeaux style blends. All are absolutely delicious.
There are many benefits to being a member at Rutherford Hill. Every Saturday they have a members only tasting in their caves. It is limited seating and goes by reservation, but I can tell you it is a very neat experience. In addition to the wines that are served in the regular tasting room, members get to taste and purchase wines from the Library. Library wines are older vintages that they have in limited quantities, special reserves etc.. The cave is gorgeous, lit with candles and beautiful soft light. There is a concierge to pour these special wines and take you through the tasting notes in a more intimate setting.
In the summer months on Friday nights they also have a party open to the public called “Chill on the Hill”. They have various food trucks and music playing. We attended their second event and it was very nice sitting out in the beautiful evening, enjoying the wine and the music.
One of the wines we tasted was made with Jack Nicklaus, the golfer. It is called 2011 Golden Bear Private Reserve Blend. It was absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately for us, they only had the magnum size left, and we just couldn’t see our way to part with that much money for a bottle of wine. We have no proper storage space for Magnums in our cellar either. Pity.
This winery has a very generous policy when it guests of their members. Guests of members may taste for free (limited to 2 guests at a time) even without the member being present. We have used that benefit several times with friends from out of town or who want to go purchase wine from there.
In the past they used to extend Member’s prices on wine to their guests, but I am told that they no longer do that. For more information on becoming a member at Rutherford Hill, here is a link to their website.
Rutherford Hill is one of the few places that is allowed to have picnics on their property in the Napa Valley. They have a gorgeous picnic area overlooking the valley floor. You can purchase a bottle of wine and sit and just enjoy the view. Reservations are recommended at busy times to ensure you get a table. This means weekends and holidays.
I have always found the staff both warm and friendly and willing to go that extra mile with everyone who visits their property. We are often greeted by name and we are by no means very regular there. For a winery that size, I think that is pretty impressive.
We have yet to go to any of their big paid events, but we are looking forward to doing so. I am sure we will write all about it when we do.