Wine tasting is a given in the Napa Valley. Which wineries to visit is like picking a card out of the deck. So many, too little time, and unless you have a driver that stays sober, it can become a little intoxicating.
One winery that is a must visit is hidden in the hills above the spa Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford. The Rutherford Hills Winery is a hidden gem with fabulous wines, with ratings over 90 for those that care, and a tasting room open from 10 am - 5 pm for a fee of $15. Add $5 and a tour of the grounds, including the caves, is included with the tasting. The view from the parking area of the valley below is stunning. The same view is shared by the Auberg du Soleil.
Purchase a bottle of wine, bring your own salami, cheese, and bread to enjoy at the graciously set up tables under the olive trees near the winery. This is one of the few wineries that has a picnic area to relax and sip their wine with your groceries. The view is wonderful under the trees out in front of the winery.. Fine wineware and accessories are available in the gift area of the tasting room.
I had been a bit half-hearted about visiting a "winery".
Not only had we all visited many vineyards in France and Spain (and Wales!) and had free refreshments provided by the owners; helped with the "vendange" in Provence; watched processing and bottling and visited caves in many places - so what more was there to see?
Well, I now have to admit there are California wineries and Rutherford Hill was a very lucky impulsive choice to have our picnic. The setting is beautiful, the facilities excellent - and the weather, on 28 March, perfect.
We decided not to spend the time, or $20 dollars each, on the Tour but went to one of the few vacant, unreserved picnic tables to enjoy the ambience and the views, and our modest picnic.
We had not brought wine - just orange jiuice and water and had seen a notice pointing out that only wine bought in the shop could be consumed in the picnic area.
My brother-in-law sloped off to the shop and returned with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. The first time I have drunk a $25 bottle of wine with ham &salad mayonnaise sandwiches. It was good, so good we bought another to take home with us.
We observed several parties arriving in stretch limos driven by a chauffeur/butler who showed the occupants to one of the pre-booked tables before producing sandwiches and dainties from a basket, and then proceeded to serve. Very posey for my taste!
Other tables were occupied by family groups like ours and a few couple on a Sunday outing - it was one of those who kindly offered to take a picture of the 4 of us.
I am really glad we visited Rutherford Hill it was a lovely way to have lunch.
P.S. Two days later in Costco, San Francisco my sister bought a case of that same wine on special offer at $14.99. But it was well worth the $25 paid at the vineyard shop for the experience !
Nestled high in the eastern hills, Rutherford Hill Winery commands a spectacular view overlooking the Rutherford Bench of Napa Valley. It is from a handful of the most select Napa Vineyards that Rutherford Hill continues it's tradition of crafting legendary wines. In 1976, while the rest of the world was just beginning to take notice of the Napa Valley, the founders of Rutherford Hill recognized a unique opportunity. They believed that the climate and soil of the Valley, similar to Pomerol, were well suited to Merlot and were among the first to pioneer what has become Napa's premier varietal.