It was Tchelistcheff who coined the phrase “Rutherford dust” to describe the element of minerality that he saw as the hallmark of a fine Rutherford cabernet, and it was also he who emphasized the importance of grapes coming from the “Rutherford bench”—the gently sloping land on the western side of the valley that provides for an ideal mixture of sun exposure, soil fertility, and drainage. The Tres Sabores ranch sits near the top of the Rutherford bench, at the base of the Mayacamas mountain range—a sweet spot for the growing of our high-quality red grapes, Cabernet, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.
Rutherford today is 3,200 acres of vineyard (four Central Parks), 40 wineries and one fantastic taqueria in the heart of the Napa valley, with a group of growers dedicated to fine wine. In 1994 the Rutherford Dust Society [embed hyperlink: http://www.rutherforddust.org] was formed to honor Rutherford’s history and to strengthen its community. Recently, an effort has been undertaken by the Dust Society to restore the Napa river, which cuts through the heart of the appellation. Commitments such as this are emblematic of the connection the Rutherford community shares with the soil and water of the area; this connection is central to Rutherford’s continued unique place in the wine world.
The Rutherford sub-region of Napa Valley centers on the town of Rutherford and covers some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyard real estate, spanning from the Mayacamas in the west, to the Vaca Mountains on the other side of the valley.
Inside of the Rutherford AVA, bordering the Mayacamas, is a stretch of uplands called the Rutherford Bench. (These bench lands technically run the length of Oakville as well). Mountain runoff creates deep, well-drained, alluvial soils on the bench, giving vine roots plenty of reason to permeate deep into the ground. The result is wine with great structure and complexity.
Rutherford Cabernet Sauvingons and Bordeaux Blends garner substantial attention for their enticing fragrances of dusty earth and dried herbs, broad and juicy mid-palates and lush and fine-grained tannins. The sub-appellation claims some of the valley’s most prized vineyards today, namely Caymus, Rubicon and Beckstoffer Georges III.
It is also home to Napa’s most influential and historic personalities. Thomas Rutherford, responsible for the appellation's name, made serious investments here in grape growing and wine production between the years of 1850 to 1880. Gustave Niebaum purchased a large swath of land and completed his winery in 1887, calling it “Inglenook.” Today this remains the oldest bonded winery in California. Georges Latour founded Beaulieu Vineyard in 1900, making it the oldest continuous winery in the state. Latour also hired the famous enologist, André Tchelistcheff, a man credited for single-handedly defining the modern Napa winemaking style.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel has secured it’s title as the darling of California vintners by adapting well to the states’ diverse microclimates and landscapes. Born in Croatia, it later made its way to southern Italy where it was named Primitivo. Fortunately, the imperial nursery of Vienna catalogued specimens of the vine, which sourced a journey to New England in 1829. Parading the true American spirit, Zinfandel found a new home in California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Somm Secret—California's ancient vines of Zinfandel are those that survived the neglect of Prohibition; today these vines produce the most concentrated, ethereal and complex examples.