14 Best Sights in Rutherford, Napa and Sonoma

Frog's Leap Winery

Fodor's choice

The tour at eco-friendly Frog's Leap is a fun way to enhance your wine education. Conducted by hosts with a sense of humor, the tour stops by a barn built in 1884, an acre of organic gardens, and a frog pond topped with lily pads. The winery produced its first vintage, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel, in 1981, adding Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon the following year. Merlots, Petite Sirahs, and the Heritage Blend of classic Napa Valley varietals, including Charbono and Valdiguié, are among the other reds these days. All visits require a reservation, but walk-ins are often accommodated. The tour is recommended, but you can forgo it and taste on a garden-view porch or at an outside bar.

Inglenook

Fodor's choice

Vintner-filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola's many wine-world contributions include resurrecting the historic Inglenook estate. Over the decades, he reunited the original property acquired by Inglenook founder Gustave Niebaum and remodeled Niebaum's ivy-covered 1880s château. In 2022, the winery unveiled a 22,000-square-foot eco-friendly wine cave and production facility. The cave and Inglenook's place in Napa Valley history are among the topics discussed at tastings, some involving food pairings. Most sessions see a pour of the signature Rubicon, a Cabernet Sauvignon–based blend with a classic Rutherford profile. All visits require an appointment; call the winery or check at the visitor center for same-day availability. In lieu of a tasting, you can book a table at The Bistro, a wine bar with a picturesque courtyard, to sip wine by the glass or bottle.

1991 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford, CA, 95473, USA
707-968–1179
Sights Details
Rate Includes: From $75 for tastings, Closed Tues. and Wed., except for bistro

Sequoia Grove

Fodor's choice

Sequoias shade the outdoor areas and century-old barn of this winery acclaimed for its single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. The winemaker supplements fruit grown on this property and another in Rutherford with grapes from other valley-floor and mountain vineyards. A current-release tasting might include a single-vineyard Cab—Sequoia Grove also makes Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and a few more—but for a sense of how variations in terrain and microclimate influence Cabernet, choose the Single Vineyard experience. All visits require an appointment. For the insightful A Taste for Cabernet, the executive chef prepares a range of small bites, including fish and vegetarian, that demonstrate Cabernet Sauvignon's versatility.

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Beaulieu Vineyard

The influential André Tchelistcheff (1901–94), who helped define the California style of wine making, worked his magic here for many years. BV, founded in 1900 by Georges de Latour and his wife, Fernande, makes several widely distributed wines, but others are produced in small lots and are available only at the winery. The most famous of these is the Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, first crafted in the late 1930s. Still going strong under senior winemaker Trevor Durling, the wine earned a 100-point rave from a top critic in 2022. All visits to Beaulieu are by appointment. Book a Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Tasting to sample wines from a heralded Rutherford vineyard.

1960 St. Helena Hwy./Hwy. 29, Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
707-257–5749
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings from $55

Cakebread Cellars

The late Jack and Dolores Cakebread were among the wave of early-1970s vintners whose efforts raised the Napa Valley's wine-making profile and initiated what became known as the Wine Country lifestyle. Tasting experiences at the winery's redwood-lined hospitality center adapt that lifestyle to contemporary sensibilities while still honoring Cakebread's history. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon helped establish the company, which makes so many other wines—Sauvignon Blanc, rosé, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and sundry red blends among them—that you can opt for an all-reds or all-whites tasting. All visits are by appointment. The Cakebread Classic survey of current releases provides a good introduction; for a deeper dive, book one of the wine-and-food pairings or the library tasting of older vintages.

8300 St. Helena Hwy./Hwy. 29, Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
800-588–0298
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings from $50

Caymus Vineyards

This winery's Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon twice won Wine Spectator wine of the year. In good weather, you can sample the latest vintage and a few other wines outdoors in a landscaped area in front of the tasting room. Chuck Wagner started making wine on this property in 1972 and still oversees Caymus production. His children craft wines for other brands within the Wagner Family of Wine portfolio, including oaked and unoaked Mer Soleil Chardonnays, a Pinot Noir, Conundrum white and red blends, Red Schooner Malbec, and Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. All Caymus visits require an appointment.

8700 Conn Creek Rd., Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
707-967–3010
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings from $50

Elizabeth Spencer at Rutherford Cross Estate

Although its first vintage (1998) debuted long after those of neighbors Inglenook and Beaulieu, this winery lays claim to a slice of Rutherford history: guests gain entry to the verdant appointment-only courtyard tasting area via the town's 1872 redbrick former post office. Varietal and geographical diversity is a primary goal, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah among the reds produced from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino County grapes. Whites include Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. After purchasing Elizabeth Spencer in 2021, new owner Boisset Collection brought aboard consultant Heidi Barrett to oversee the wines but retained longtime winemaker Sarah Vandendriessche. The Kathleen Thompson Hill Kitchen Memories Collection, housed in a building off the parking lot, contains cooking utensils of nostalgic and historical value.

1165 Rutherford Rd., Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
707-963–6067
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings from $50, Closed Tues. and Wed. in winter

Honig Vineyard & Winery

Sustainable farming is the big story at this family-run winery. When offered, the absorbing Eco-Tour and Tasting focuses on the Honig family's environmentally friendly farming and production methods, which include using biodiesel to fuel the tractors, monitoring water use in the vineyard and winery, and generating power with solar panels. Bluebirds, hawks, and owls patrol for insects, rodents, and other pests; trained golden retrievers spot vine-damaging mealybugs early, eliminating the need for heavy pesticides. Known for Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Honigs also make rosé of Cabernet and late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc. All tastings are by appointment; call ahead for last-minute availability.

Mumm Napa

When Champagne Mumm of France set about establishing a California sparkling-wine outpost, its winemaker chose the Napa Valley, where today the winery sources grapes from more than 50 local producers. Made in the méthode traditionnelle style from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and occasionally Pinot Gris, the wines are all fermented in the bottle. Most guests enjoy them alfresco, by the glass or flight, on two patios with vineyard views. Book an Oak Terrace Tasting to sample top-of-the-line cuvées under the sprawling branches of a nearly-two-centuries-old blue oak. Tasting is by appointment only, but walk-ins are accommodated when possible.

8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA, 94558, USA
707-967–7700
Sights Details
Rate Includes: From $40 for tastings

Piña Napa Valley

The Piña family, whose Napa Valley heritage dates from the 1850s, is known locally as much for its first-rate vineyard-management company as its modest winery that specializes in single-vineyard, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Anna Monticelli crafts these robust Cabs from mostly hillside fruit, all estate grown. Though she doesn't blend in other varietals, commonly done to soften Cabernet, the winery doesn't release its wines until age has mellowed them. If he's not busy elsewhere, Larry Piña, the genial managing partner and among his family's seventh generation involved in the wine business, often drops by during tastings. All require an appointment, with same-day guests accommodated when possible (but call ahead).

8060 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
707-738–9328
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings $50, Closed Tues. and Wed.

Round Pond Estate

Sophisticated wines come from Round Pond, but the valley-floor estate also produces premium olive oils, most from olives grown and crushed on the property. Guests participating in the olive oil tasting, held across the street from the winery, pass through the high-tech olive mill and sample the aromatic oils, both alone and with house-made red-wine vinegars. Hosts at the winery tasting room pour Round Pond's well-rounded red and other wines. The flagship Estate Cabernet Sauvignon has the structure and heft of the classic 1970s Rutherford Cabs but acknowledges 21st-century palates with smoother, if still sturdy, tannins. Tastings are by appointment only (48 hours in advance preferred for those involving food). The full Il Pranzo lunch incorporates products made and produce grown on-site.

875 Rutherford Rd., Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
707-302–2575
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings from $65, Closed Mon. and Tues.

St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery

The French fashion company Chanel purchased St. Supéry in 2015, adding further glamour to this winery whose Rutherford vineyards surround its immaculate hospitality center and production facility. St. Supéry makes two widely distributed wines, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon, but most tastings revolve around limited-production efforts from the Rutherford property and the 1,500-acre Dollarhide Ranch on Howell Mountain. Hosts tailor sessions to guests' preferences, pouring, for instance, all whites or all reds. One of the latter tastings explores valley-floor and mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, another that varietal and four other Bordeaux grapes, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Among the specialized experiences at this enthusiastic proponent of wine education is Aromatherapy with a Corkscrew, which involves blind sniffing and tasting to learn how to identify citrus, tropical, and other aromas in wines.

8440 St. Helena Hwy./Hwy. 29, Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
707-963–4507
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings from $45

Sullivan Rutherford Estate

In 1972, James O'Neil Sullivan, a Hollywood graphic designer, moved his family to Rutherford to make Cabernet Sauvignon. Most of the wines (Merlot was another focus) came from grapes planted on his 26-acre estate, to which Mexico City–born Juan Pablo Torres Padilla, managing partner of a group that purchased the winery in 2018, added parcels in the Atlas Peak and St. Helena AVAs. Grapevines, a small lake bordered by a landscaped garden, and the 1978 Arts and Crafts–style home architect John Marsh Davis cantilevered over the vineyard supply a pastoral backdrop for leisurely appointment-only tastings best booked at least a day ahead. The winery expects to break ground in mid-to-late 2023 on a new combination production facility and hospitality center to be completed by 2025.

1090 Galleron Rd., Rutherford, CA, 94573, USA
707-963–9646
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tastings from $150

ZD Wines

Founded in 1969, this winery specializing in Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Cabernet Sauvignons is respected for its organic practices, local philanthropy, and Abacus blend. Made "solera-style," Abacus contains wine from every ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon vintage since 1992. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir come from a Carneros property, the Cabernet from the winery's Rutherford estate, where the wines are made. Appointment-only tastings take place in a second-floor space with broad valley views west to the Mayacamas Mountains. Book a current-release flight for an introduction to ZD and its wine-making philosophy. Barrel tastings, small bites, and small-batch reserve wines are part of the Abacus Experience, which concludes with a current and older Abacus blend.

8383 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA, 94558, USA
707-963–5188
Sights Details
Rate Includes: From $50 for tastings