Napa and Sonoma: Places to Explore

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Rutherford

You could drive through the tiny community of Rutherford, at the intersection of Highway 29 and Rutherford Road, in the blink of an eye, but this may well be one of the most important wine-related intersections in the United States. With its singular microclimate and soil, Rutherford is an important viticultural center, with more big-name wineries than you can shake a corkscrew at, including Beaulieu, Inglenook, Mumm Napa, and St. Supéry.

Cabernet Sauvignon is king here. The soil is ideal for those vines, and since this part of the valley gets plenty of sun, the grapes develop exceptionally intense flavors. Legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff's famous claim that "it takes Rutherford dust to grow great Cabernet" is quoted by just about every winery in the area that produces the stuff. That "Rutherford dust" varies from one part of the region to another, but the soils here are primarily gravel, sand, and loam, a well-drained home for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that don't like to get their feet wet.

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