Best Rutherford Wineries: Taste the Dust

Paige at Caymus Winery in Rutherford, Napa

The Rutherford AVA, located in the heard of Napa Valley, produces some of the most delicious and impressive Cabernet Sauvignon to date. With the unique soil, called Rutherford dust, you won’t want to miss the wine from this region. Keep reading for the Best Rutherford Wineries to visit during your next Napa trip!

About Rutherford, California

Rutherford is nestled within the exquisite wine country of Napa Valley. It is a nested American Viticultural Area (AVA) and is best known for it’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel wines. This is likely due to the infamous “Rutherford dust” that surrounds the area. 

According to the President of the Rutherford Dust Society, Lauren Pesch, “[Rutherford dust] is an apt descriptor, as there is an undeniably ‘dusty’ characteristic to the ancient, mineral-rich soils of Rutherford, which were formed millions of years ago.” Many claim the sandy, volcanic-like “dust” is responsible for Rutherford’s exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, which frequently offers notes of fruit, leather, and undeniably, a little dust.

A note about the Napa region: Napa Valley is a long stretch of wine country between two mountain ranges. It spans over 30 miles, North-to-South, and is home to over 400 wineries. With that said, I highly recommend booking a multi-day trip to this area. Or, if you’re staying for only a day, plan to visit a specific nested AVA or city. This will keep you from driving all over the valley.

Best Rutherford Wineries to Visit

Rutherford is home to many famous, world-class wineries, such as Caymus Vineyards. You could easily spend several days exploring this rustic and refined town. Whether you’re staying for a day or a few, keep these wineries at the top of your list to visit!

Sullivan Rutherford Estate Tasting Room

Sullivan Rutherford Estate 

The Sullivan Rutherford Estate is home to the best high-end Merlot. Trust me when I say: it’s worthy of its luxury price tag.

The expansive, luscious green property is overwhelmingly welcoming. In the courtyard, you can enjoy a private wine tasting of library Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Or, as members, you can experience a multi-course wine and dinner pairing on the estate. This is one Rutherford winery you won’t want to miss. It’s one of my favorite Napa wineries!

Grape stomping at Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford

Grgich Hills Estate

An iconic and historic Rutherford winery, Grgich Hills is a must-visit!

The estate is committed to organic farming and winegrowing, which supports healthy soil and microbes, while fighting pollution. This Rutherford winery offers unique experiences, such as barrel stomping in the Fall/harvest season. By reservation, you can enjoy a guided tasting and tour of the ranch house, vineyard, cellar and salon. There is a lot to explore and experience at Grgich.

Peju Winery in Rutherford

 Peju Winery

Peju Winery is stately with beautiful arched trees lining the driveway. In fact, they are known for their impeccable entrance.

Founder, Tony Peju, also known as “the Father of Custom Crush,” opened the doors to Peju Winery in 1991. Today, the 30-acre Rutherford estate offers the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Peju Winery offers group wine tastings, food and wine pairings, and broadway events on their beautiful grounds.

Caymus Vineyards

Caymus Vineyards

Caymus Vineyards is an iconic winery founded and operated by the Wagner family. They are best known for their high-end Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, which is impressively smooth to the palate. The beautiful grounds are the perfect stop for an outdoor tasting. 

Pestoni Family Vineyards

Pestoni

Pestoni Family is a family-owned and operated vineyard in the heart of Rutherford.  The Pestoni vineyards offer laid-back wine tastings at picnic tables. Better yet, the grounds are picnic-friendly, making it the perfect place to lounge, sip, and snack. They have bocce ball courts to play on. Needless to say, it’s a relaxing, fun spot for groups!

Rutherford Wineries Map

Rutherford Winery Q&A

What is Rutherford dust?
The Rutherford dust is a unique soil, sandy and volcanic, that surrounds the Rutherford area. It’s known for producing wine with mysterious notes and splice elements. 

What wine is Rutherford most known for?
Due to the iconic Rutherford dust, this AVA is most known for it’s production of Cabernet Sauvignon. However, you will also find an impressive selection of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec in this dusty region.

Where is Rutherford?
Rutherford is an AVA located in the Napa Valley, California. It is sandwiched between Yountville and St. Helena.

Where to stay in Rutherford?
For a small, rustic town, Rutherford offers luxury lodging. There is a wide variety of boutique inns, hotels, and resorts to choose from, including: The Rancho Caymus Inn and Auberge du Soleil. 

Where to eat in Rutherford?
Along with lodging, Rutherford has delicious restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be sure to stop by The Restaurant at Auberge for amazing views and fresh, seasonal dishes. For a more laid-back vibe, visit Rutherford Grill, which offers delicious comfort food and a beautiful ambience.

Rutherford, known for it’s rustic nature and phenomenal Cabernet Sauvignon, is a must-visit place for every wine-lover! 

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8 Comments

  1. Frank Gresik
    July 21, 2022 / 12:46 pm

    What happened to BV? It is The Godfather of all Rutherford wineries

    • winewithpaige
      Author
      August 5, 2022 / 10:19 am

      Hi Frank! Thanks so much for the suggestion! I haven’t been to BV yet, but I’ll be sure to add it to my “wish list” of future wineries to visit. I try to go to at least a handful of Napa spots every month so I can keep updating these guides with the best of the best! 🙂 Appreciate your recommendation!!

  2. Ranndy Pina
    July 26, 2022 / 9:58 pm

    Why is Pina not on the map?

    • winewithpaige
      Author
      August 5, 2022 / 10:18 am

      Hey Ranndy! Pina wasn’t on the Rutherford winery association map that I referenced, and I actually personally haven’t been there yet! In their own words from their site “We are truly one of Napa Valley’s secret wineries.” — Sounds like a place I need to add to my “wish list” for future winery visits though! I’ll be sure to check them out soon and consider adding them. Thanks for the tip!!

  3. Clay
    July 28, 2022 / 1:05 pm

    Over-priced Cali crap!!

    • Marc
      July 31, 2022 / 9:32 pm

      I’d be curious what cheap swill your drinking.

  4. Marc
    July 31, 2022 / 9:27 pm

    Can’t disagree with your choices. But Raymond and V Sattui should be on this list.

    • winewithpaige
      Author
      August 5, 2022 / 10:16 am

      Thanks for the suggestion, Marc! Both Raymond and V Sattui are technically in St. Helena and will be included in that guide, which is on the calendar for next week! LOVE them both (especially V Sattui for picnics and first-time Napa visitors!)

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