The clue is in the name: it’s in Rutherford, home of “Rutherford Dust”, arguably the hotbed of Napa’s top Cabernet Sauvignon production, and it’s on a hill (actually the eastern side of the valley). A picturesque, nineteenth century redwood winery with modern attendant buildings containing a new, state of the art “winery within a winery”, it looks down over the valley below. The label shows the entrance to the extensive underground cellars tunnelled into the side of the hill. Founded in 1972 it was a pioneer in the development of that currently under-rated category: California Merlot. Merlot remains a focus for the winery with three quarters of its production devoted to the variety.
Winemaker Marisa Taylor is making wines with the richness and fruit one expects from Napa but with balance, restraint and subtlety. The Chardonnay especially shows excellent oak balance, beautifully combining richness and texture with acidity, while the Cabernet Sauvignon is an outstanding example of Napa Cabernet at a competitive price point.