Rutherford AVA, Napa Valley

Situated in the center of Napa Valley is the world famous Rutherford AVA.  Established as a sub-appellation of Napa Valley in 1993, Rutherford has a total area of 7,457 acres of which 1,454 acres are cultivated for grapes.  Sandwiched between St. Helena to the north, Oakville to the south, and just due west of Lake Hennessey, Rutherford is defined by its unique terroir influence on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, also known as “Rutherford Dust”.

The lion’s share of influence on this “dust” comes from the soil in the area, namely a mix of volcanic deposits, sandstone, gravel and loam.  This is a well draining soil composition that encourages the vines’ roots to establish themselves by reaching deep into the ground.  Annual rainfall in the area averages around 34″ with just around 5″ falling durring the growing season.  The growing season sees an average temperature range of 83°F for the high and a low of 50°F, ideal growing conditions for ripening and retaining the perfect acidity before harvest.

Looking at the breakdown of plantings in Rutherford reads like a Left Bank Bordeaux fan’s wish list: largely Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.  And if you hadn’t already guessed, the white growths are largely Sauvignon Blanc followed by Semillon.  There are a fair amount of “unknown growths” in the region as well (undocumented or experimental plantings that make up over 50% of the plantings in the region) but the routine 95-100 point scores the area is famous for are related to the documented growths and wines produced from them.

In light of the scores and AVA recognition, it is not uncommon to see triple digit price tags on Rutherford designated wines, sometimes quadruple digits at auction on certain trophy bottles.  Thankfully our direct to consumer model allows us to acquire the same juice and label under our Lot series for a much more approachable price.

As it goes with most Napa Cabernet, it is best to cellar these wines and allow maturity to kick in, but always good to give a decant if you plan on enjoying today.

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