Description 1 of 3

Just to the south of St. Helena lies Rutherford, the historic home to the old Inglenook estate and Beaulieu Vineyards and arguably the greatest spot in the country to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, though I will argue with this proposition in just a minute. Rutherford has even spawned perhaps America’s only contribution to the lexicon of wine tasting, the mysterious “Rutherford dust”, that dusty, dusky note that can merge in old California Cabernet. Rutherford occupies the heart of the Napa Valley floor. Roughly square shaped the area is at the crossroads of the valley, benefitting from some maritime influence and fog yet enjoying moderately warm average daily temperatures. There are distinct differences however between the Eastern and Western halves of the AVA. In the west the valley floor is shaded by the Mayacamas range, resulting in cooler afternoon temperatures as well as less fog in the morning. The soil here is predominantly volcanic runoff from the mountains. In contrast the Eastern side of the AVA enjoys sun well into the afternoon, resulting in higher daily averages, yet has to deal with denser morning fog, though the permeable gravel and sandy soils offer excellent drainage. While the conditions on each side of the AVA offer somewhat differing results this remain firmly Cabernet Sauvignon country. Virtually 70% of the area is blanketed with Cab vines, many tended by the most famous names in the business. The reason for this is of course the quality of the vines those grapes produce. The tannins here are fairly soft but abundant due to the warmth and the wine’s softness is enhanced by the lowish acidity these wines may have. There are rarely problems of immaturity with the fruit here though some notes of herbaciousness and earth are generally noticeable through the dense core of fruit. Other grapes commonly found here are the blending grapes Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with a handful of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc vines still in evidence. – Description from Gregory Dal Piaz

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Description 2 of 3


The Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley, California is named for Thomas Rutherford. In the 1850s, Rutherford married Elizabeth Yount, granddaughter of George Calvert Yount (founder of the Yount region), who gave them a parcel of land within the Caymus Rancho as their wedding present. Rutherford devoted his life to cultivating these fields for wine, and developed quite the local following. Others became interested in starting their own vineyards. In the 1860s, Judge Hastings and Gustave Niebaum purchases their own lots, and Niebaum eventually founded Inglenook winery, which still exists. Georges Latour founded Beaulieu vineyard at the turn of the 20th century time and was a significant participant in the efforts to combat the Phylloxera crisis, taking measures to graft rootstock and save the local vineyards. 
Always the foreward thinker, Latour also had ways of skirting the Prohibition laws that otherwise shut down most Calfornia wine production between 1920 and 1933. He rationalized that the Catholic Church would still need wine for mass, so he managed to stay afloat by dealing directly with the Church and providing wines made under the auspice of religious ceremony. 
Following the Prohibition, Beaulieu and Inglenook became two of the most well known and important wineries in America. One of Latour’s protoges was Russian immigrant Andre Tchelistcheff, who encouraged local winemakers to let the terroir dictate suitable varietals for planting, distinguishing certain areas for certain grapes according to the appropriate climate conditions and soil types. It was under Tchelistcheff’s direction that Cabernet became the signature Napa varietal, with Rutherford wines at the forefront. He also advocated cold fermentation and more sanitary vineyard management strategies.
Today, Rutherford is considered one of the top wine regions in California, with boutique and commercial wineries producing mostly high quality Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. ~Amanda Schuster
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 3 of 3

“Cabernets need a touch of that Rutherford dust.” (Andre Tchelistcheff, legendary winemaker of Beaulieu Vineyards).

The celebrated vignerons of this appellation deeply respect and pay homage to the unique terroir here, which they refer to as "the "dust". Rutherford’s soils are primarily gravel, sand and loam, and are dominated by volcanic deposits and Franciscan marine sediment. They provide excellent water drainage and ideal conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon. However, to these vignerons the "dust" means much more than dirt. It is the combination of earth, special climate, meticulous fruit-focused winemaking and unrelenting patience that produces world-class wines. The historic wineries of Inglenook and Beaulieu, as well as dozens of new houses, have proven that this six-square-mile plot of vines, halfway up the Napa Valley, rivals the best appellations of the Old World. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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