Wineries in Rutherford or St. Helena area
Me and my girlfriend are having brunch at the Auberge du Soleil restaurant this weekend and I was hoping to find a winery or two to visit before or after our meal. We are somewhat new to wine and tend to enjoy the buttery chards and full bodied red wines that are not too heavy on the tannins.
Top priority would be somewhere not too stuffy and with outdoor seating or views to enjoy the great weather we are supposed to have.
Any help would be much appreciated.
None of these require appointments, so they probably will be extremely busy. You may want to call ahead and reserve(though may be more expensive) at least one, so you get at least one tasting experience away from the crowds.
Alpha Omega has a beautiful, buttery chard. On the main Hwy between Rutherford and St. Helena.
Not necessarily buttery chard places, but around that area:
Duckhorn, on the Silverado Trial, isn't known for their chards - BUT has nice views and seating areas. You may want to call ahead to reserve a spot as it can get crowded during the high season.
Mumm (also not really known for their chard - they're more known for their sparkling) has beautiful views and areas like Auberge du Soleil. Again you may want to call ahead to see the likelihood of getting a great spot.
Xerxes, if you're looking for a place with good chardonnays and reds at the same place, I would recommend Tamber Bey (St Helena, just off of Main St), Beau Vigne (Yountville, north end of town), or Clos Du Val (Napa, Stags Leap District, on the Silverado Trail).
However, to get the most out of the weather, you may want to seriously think about Signorello Vineyards in northern Napa, on the Silverado Trail. They do their tastings outside, on the patio, next to an infinity pool with a slightly elevated view of Napa Valley. Of course, the view pales in comparison to the one at Auberge, but doesn't tasting next to a pool sound fun?
Some of the finest wineries in all of Napa Valley are near Auberge du Soleil. By the way, get a table at the Auberge restaurant that's outside closest to the balcony edge and overlooking the valley. Call ahead and request this. Nice sculpture walk there too, if you're into that. Ask the concierge or front desk if they have any complimentary tasting passes.
Near Auberge, right next door in fact, is Rutherford Hill Winery, a short walk from lunch. I recall their Chard as being a fairly good combo of butteriness and balance. Walk out towards the picnic tables and check out the view there -- slightly different from that at the Auberge restaurant.
Off Rutherford Hill Road, the road that climbs up to Auberge du Soleil, you will see Auberge Road on your left. This is home to Hall Winery's second location (they have another location on Highway 29).
Stunning view and building, large pieces of modern art. Ask to see the chandelier in the dining room, made of crystals and a huge, uprooted vine. You will need a reservation and be sure to request you'd like to visit the Auberge Rd. location. So that's two wineries on the same hill as Auberge.
Take Rutherford Hill Road down from Auberge, go south on Silverado Trail a block, and Rutherford Cross Road will be on your right, home to Frog's Leap (one of the best around) with its excellent whites, and one the best and most fun visits you could make. John Williams, the winermaker and owner, is brilliant on many levels. Sustainable, organic. Lovely grounds with vegetables and fruits also. Reservations required. I think this may be your best bet.
Round Pond, just down from Frog's Leap on Rutherford Cross Road, has a stunning outdoor terrace with a 360-degree view of green. The staff very pleasant. Not too many whites, but it might be worth a quick stop.They also make olive oil. BTW, I don't care for the food pairing there.
Follow Rutherford Cross Road to its end, and cross Highway 29 to visit Inglenook (formerly Rubicon), home to at least three beautiful whites. I particularly like the Blancaneaux. This is a historical property, which has recently reverted to the original property name -- Ingelnook. Owned by Francis Ford Coppola. The fountain outside and buildings are beautiful. Perhaps it's not an issue for you, but the tasting is $50 per person.
Quintessa is just north of Rutherford Hill Road on Silverado Trail -- call ahead to make an appointment and to request a taste of the Flowers Chard (their sister winery).
South of Rutherford Hill Road on Silverado Trail is the very fine Pine Ridge (no res, good whites) and the excellent Shafer (need res, few whites).
Another tip: If you drink only white wines, tell that to the winery when you arrive or make your reservation. If they have only one or two white wines, they may waive the tasting fee.
Hope you have a good time. Don't forget to call ahead to set things up.
re: maria lorraine
This has been one of the most helpful posts. Thank you. Can you add to your suggestions (with price and making appointments being a non-issue) centered around the themes of either: 1) view 2) unique wine making processes (like Frog's Leap/Quintessa 3) history (like Ingelnook) 4) food pairings (like Trinchero) 5) out of the norm ????