A visit to Rutherford Grove and Pestoni Family Winery
My summer 2013 tour of Napa Valley included a visit to Rutherford Grove Winery. The tasting room and winery is located on the St Helena Highway, just outside of St, Helena.
The first thing you’ll notice about Rutherford Grove Winery is the amazing landscaped property. You can’t see it from the road, but once you get up to the actual winery and tasting room you’ll notice all the flowers and gardens, and off to the side there is a huge grass field and picnic BBQ area that can accommodate hundreds of people.
On this visit I met tasting room manager Bonnie Zimmerman and wine-maker Alejandro Alfaro, and tasted through a wide variety of Rutherford Grove wines, as well as some of the Pestoni family wines.
The Pestoni family has been involved in wine making in Napa Valley for 5 generations, but current owner Bob Pestoni, didn’t immediately follow in the family footsteps. He started a disposal company first. And Napa Valley is very lucky that he did. Bob actually discovered a bacteria to help recycle all the organic waste in the wine making process. Every year he produces over 12,000 tons of organic compost fertilizer to be used in vineyards all over Napa Valley.
Alejandro Alfaro is now the head wine maker for both Rutherford Grove and Petsoni Family wines. He has an interesting background in wine making. While a lot of wine makers these days are graduates of U.C. Davis, Alejandro gained his knowledge and skills in wine making from hands on experience. Alejandro has been working in the business for over 18 years and has done it all from vineyard management to cellar work, to wine production, and retail sales to wine making. He joined Rutherford Grove and Pestoni in 2010 after working with an impressive list of small production high quality clients. The most striking thing about Alejandro is that he is a genuine, down to earth, friendly guy. Unassuming and humble. Which is interesting, because I really think that comes across in the wine style. All wines have their strong points and niches, and the impression I get from Alejandro’s wines is they are unassuming and humble. But they’re not boring.
The 2008 Pestoni Estate Reserve Cabernet from Howell Mountain is an amazing wine. It’s remarkably approachable for such a young mountain wine. This wine scored 94 points from Wine Enthusiast and won a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition in 2011. With only 350 cases produced and priced at only $65 a bottle it is quite a steal. The next day at the Taste of Howell Mountain I had a chance to taste the 09 vintage and it was perhaps even better! I also had a chance to taste the 2008 Estate Reserve Merlot, also from Howell Mountain. This is also a great value, with only 300 cases produced and priced at $50 a bottle. The wine was a gold medal winner at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition and scored 92 points from Wine Enthusiast. It’s a Cabernet lovers Merlot, nice and big and bold.
Other stand-outs include the Rutherford Grove Estate Sauvignon Blanc and the Estate Sangiovese. The Sauvignon Blanc has a good citrus like acidity with an apricot aroma on the nose, making it a refreshing summer sipper. At only $18 and only 600 cases produced for the 2012 vintage this wine will probably go fast.
The Estate Sangiovese is only available through the wine club and tasting room. Only 300 cases were produced and it runs $35 a bottle. It’s a big bold and dense wine with the fine dusty tannins that the Rutherford area is so well known for.
If you’re taking a trip to Napa Valley, I would recommend stopping in at the Rutherford Grove winery to taste their wines. Reservations are not required to taste the wines, though you might want to contact them ahead of time if you want to meet Alejandro.
Contact Rutherford Grove Winery Here