Rutherford Hill Winery
Founded in 1976, Rutherford Hill Winery was a pioneer in the development of California Merlot. Today, Merlot remains the flagship wine of the company with 75% of Rutherford Hill's production dedicated to this varietal.
In 1982, Rutherford Hill was one of the first to recommence the construction of barrel-aging caves in this century. Rutherford Hill's caves extend nine-tenths of a mile into the volcanic ash behind the winery and contain over 8,000 oak wine-aging barrels. The caves provide a natural environment for aging wine that is temperature-stable with constant humidity.
In 1996, the noted premium wine importer and marketer, Anthony Terlato, and his two sons Bill and John, purchased the winery. The 1995 vintage Merlot was the first release to reflect their influence.
To improve quality, the Terlatos reduced production by 14,000 cases, eliminating inferior lots from the final blend. Now, with the 1998 vintage, Rutherford Hill has evolved into a wine offering rich aromas of black cherry, plum, tea and black pepper with fresh herb notes. The fruit components are nicely balanced by the vanilla and cigar box aromas, which reflect the aging in medium-toasted French oak primarily from the forests of Allier, with a small percentage of carefully selected American oak from Missouri. Minimum filtration is used to preserve the bright fruit nuances making the wine fresh and elegant, with a firm structure and persistent lingering finish.
Beginning with the 1997 vintage, Rutherford Hill has contracted for 30 acres (10,000 cases) of reserve-quality grapes.
The mission of Rutherford Hill Winery has been clearly defined: Maintain leadership in Merlot by always placing quality first.