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. We recommend the standards here, the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and the Cabernet Sauvignon. 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. They have achieved that, and their Chardonnay is worthwhile too. 1581 Sage Canyon Road, St. Helena (707) 963-7136 [reservation required]
Elizabeth Spencer – This artisan producer of several wines has a cute (but tiny) tasting room in the former Rutherford Post Office. We’ve liked the Wente Clone Chardonnay, Grenache, and Syrah here. 1165 Rutherford Road, Rutherford (707) 963-6067
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 grounds and building here are gorgeous, and our favorites are the Blancaneaux, Cabernet Franc, Edizione Pennino Zinfandel, Cask Cabernet, and the Rubicon. 1991 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Rutherford (800) 782-4266
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. We preferred the John’s Creek, Medina, Searby, and Truchard Chardonnays. 8164 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), Oakville (707) 967-9600 [reservation required]
Opus One – Joint venture started between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild producing a proprietary Bordeaux-style blend that is delicious and pricey. Very interesting building and grounds. 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. Completed in the fall of 2005, the Paraduxx winery property includes the Vineyard House where wine tasting and retail sales are based. Tasting experiences here include tableside service, stemless Riedel ‘O’ glassware, and cheese to accompany your wine. Favorites here include the Rosé (Parajaxx) and the wine that started it all, Paraduxx. 7257 Silverado Trail, Yountville (707) 945-0890 [reservations required for parties of 6 or more]
Piña Napa Valley – The Piña family originally had a vineyard management business, and four brothers have now branched out into making wine under their own name. The specialty here is single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and we’ve been impressed by the Howell Mountain, D’Adamo, and Wolff versions. 8060 Silverado Trail, Rutherford (707) 738-9328 [reservation required]
Provenance Vineyards – In the heart of the Rutherford appellation, Provenance Vineyards opened in October 2003 at the winery known formerly as Chateau Beaucanon. While here, check out the interesting wood floor of the tasting room made of staves from Provenance’s own oak barrels. 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 – Truly wonderful Cabernet Sauvignons 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
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 chain. The outside patio is relaxing or you can always try to sit at the bar (same menu, great service). For lunch, you can’t go wrong with the Cheeseburger, Chicken Sandwich, or Prime Rib French Dip. 1180 Rutherford Road, Rutherford (707) 963-1792
Oakville Grocery – 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.