In the center of Napa Valley, the Oakville and Rutherford appellations are moderately warm areas that are still partially influenced by morning fog. Oakville is just south of Rutherford, but both areas are well known for the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals. Oakville also has Sauvignon Blanc as a primary varietal, while Rutherford is better known for its Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel grapes.
Favorite Tasting Rooms in Oakville and Rutherford
Cakebread Cellars – Premium winery since 1973 with a worldwide distribution in many restaurants and retail stores. Large focus on both food and wine here, and the Cakebreads even wrote the Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook and offer cooking classes at the winery. We recommend the standards here, the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and the Cabernet Sauvignon, but the winery produces a wide portfolio of wines. 8300 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Rutherford (800) 588-0298 [reservation required]
Chappellet – Since 1967, the Chappellet family has been crafting world class wines from their Pritchard Hill estate vineyards focusing on high-quality age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons. The Chappellets have been dedicated stewards of Pritchard Hill as demonstrated by their extensive sustainable and organic practices. Our favorites in the past have been the Cabernets and Chardonnays. 1581 Sage Canyon Road, St. Helena (707) 963-7136 [reservation required]
Inglenook – In 1880, Gustave Niebaum founded Inglenook winery with the intention of making it a world-class winery. Now owned by Francis Ford Coppola, the property that started as Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery, then became Rubicon Estate, is now back to the original Inglenook name. The Coppolas have spent over 40 years reuniting the original vineyards and returning winemaking operations to the Chateau. The grounds and chateau here are gorgeous and include a Bistro offering wine, soft drinks, coffee drinks, bistro bites, cheese, charcuterie and cigars. Our favorite wines are the Blancaneaux, Edizione Pennino Zinfandel, Cask Cabernet, and the Rubicon. 1991 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Rutherford (800) 782-4266 [advance reservations strongly encouraged]
Nickel & Nickel – This winery focuses on producing 100% varietal single-vineyard wines crafted to express the personality of each vineyard. Your tour should start at the site’s original Queen Anne-style home and include the restored barns on the property. Nickel & Nickel is a sister winery of Far Niente. We preferred the Medina and Truchard Chardonnays. 8164 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Oakville (707) 967-9600 [reservation required]
Opus One – Historic joint venture started between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild producing a single proprietary Bordeaux-style blend. Very interesting architecture which joins New World and Old World aesthetics surrounded by beautiful landscaping. The winery features a stunning Grand Chai which houses one thousand barrels in a semi-circular formation. 7900 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Oakville (800) 292-6787 [reservation required]
Paraduxx – The namesake wine here is a proprietary red blend usually comprised primarily of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon but the blend varies from year to year. Completed in the fall of 2005, the Paraduxx winery property includes the Vineyard House, where wine tasting and retail sales are based, and a ten-sided fermentation building. Tasting experiences here include tableside service, stemless Riedel ‘O’ glassware, and cheese to accompany your wine. Favorites here include the Rosé and the wine that started it all, Paraduxx (a proprietary Napa Valley red wine). 7257 Silverado Trail, Yountville (707) 945-0890 [reservations required]
Piña Napa Valley – The Piña family runs a well respected vineyard management business, and four brothers have now branched out into making wine under their own name. The winery is perched above the Silverado Trail and the tasting experience here is a rustic one. The specialty here is single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vineyards which are farmed by the family, and we’ve been impressed by the Howell Mountain, D’Adamo, and Wolff versions. 8060 Silverado Trail, Rutherford (707) 738-9328
Provenance Vineyards – In the heart of the Rutherford appellation, Provenance Vineyards opened in October 2003 at the winery known formerly as Chateau Beaucanon. The red “farmhouse” winery is surrounded by vineyards and a patio lounge. While here, check out the interesting wood floor of the tasting room made of staves from 960 of Provenance’s own oak barrels from the inaugural vintage. Be sure to try the Las Amigas Vineyard Merlot and To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. 1695 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Rutherford (707) 968-3633
Silver Oak – For over 40 years Silver Oak has been single-minded in the pursuit of exceptional Cabernet. The winery follows an extensive aging program using American Oak followed by extensive cellaring in bottle. Truly wonderful Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley and Alexander Valley can be found at this location, the Napa Valley counterpart to Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley tasting room in Geyserville. 915 Oakville Crossroad, Oakville (707) 942-7022 and 24625 Chianti Road, Geyserville (707) 942-7082
Tres Sabores – The winery’s name means “Three Flavors” in Spanish, referring to the impacts of the Vine (the grapes), the Artisan (the winemaker) and the Terroir (the land) on a wine’s resulting taste. Julie Johnson and Jon Engelskirger own and run this small 35-acre ranch which sits near the top of the Rutherford Bench. The rustic setting, giant Coast Live Oak and 4-legged residents here will help you forget you are anywhere near Highway 29. The grapes grown on the ranch are organically certified. Our favorite wines are the Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Por Qué No (Zinfandel-based blend) but we also highly recommend trying the “Ingrid & Julia” Rosé and Rutherford Perspective Cabernet Sauvignon. 1620 South Whitehall Lane, St. Helena (707) 967-8027 [reservation required]
Favorite Food Stops in Oakville and Rutherford
Auberge du Soleil – Glamorous Michelin-rated Mediterranean restaurant and bar with stunning vistas off the outside patios. Dress up a little and come here in time to see the sunset. The extensive bar menu includes everything from Asparagus Risotto to Duck Confit Pizza to a great Burger. 180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford (707) 963-1211
Rutherford Grill – There is frequently a wait at this local outlet of the Hillstone Restaurant group. The outside patio is relaxing or you can always try to sit at the bar (same menu, great service). All of the food is tasty, but for lunch, you can’t go wrong with the Cheeseburger, Kale and Rotisserie Chicken Salad, Grilled Artichokes or Prime Rib French Dip. 1180 Rutherford Road, Rutherford (707) 963-1792
Oakville Grocery – Gourmet country store with pantry items and local handmade specialty foods, including impressive sandwiches you can eat outside or take with (and you can call your order in before you get here to avoid the
ever-present lines). 7856 St. Helena Highway, Oakville (707) 944-8802
Oakville Winegrowers – Association of winegrowers in the Oakville AVA.
Rutherford Dust Society – Association of growers and vintners in the Rutherford AVA.
Silverado Trail Wineries Association – A group of more than 40 businesses and wineries along the historic Silverado Trail.
Napa Valley Vintners – Trade association promoting Napa Valley appellation as the premiere wine growing region.