Welcome to Rutherford
As the sun slowly creeps above the mountains and the morning fog rolls wispily over the grapes of the Rutherford Vineyards, it’s easy to forget the cultural and historical significance of the region. Napa Valley’s rich history includes historical settlements and some of the oldest first growth vineyards on the continent. Additionally, Rutherford real estate is home to thousands of acres of vineyards which produce internationally recognized, uniquely flavored wines.
Lay of the Land
Rutherford sits in the center of Napa County, the fields and vineyards’ stretching across what was once a riverbed. This creates a unique soil composition which has led to wines possessing a hint of the “Rutherford dust”, a unique, earthy flavor. Rutherford is a small community, with just over 164 people calling the census designated location home. It shares a close relationship with the nearby community of Oakville as well as with the larger St. Helena. The estimated median household income for the town is $70,914 while the estimated median home value is $443,000.
In Rutherford, the primary route for ground transportation is Interstate 29. Interstate 29 runs from north to south through the length of Napa Valley. Additionally, it connects to Highway 12 and Interstate 80. Highway 12 runs west from Napa Valley into nearby Sonoma County. On the other hand, Interstate 80 travels northeast towards Sacramento and southwest into the Oakland area.
Despite the limited geographic size of Napa County, the area possesses an extensive public transportation system, operated by the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency. Locally, the NCTPA manages an extensive series of buses and shuttles that connect the communities of Napa Valley. It’s also provides several bus lines which connect to Bay Area Rapid Transit stations in the southwest. Finally, it also operates bus routes which provide access to Solano County.
Historically, Napa Valley has been the home of nationally recognized wineries. For the most part, not much has changed in Rutherford. Unlike its more urban neighbors, Rutherford has maintained a tiny, close knit community of vineyards and wine enthusiasts dedicated to producing excellent grapes and preserving the cultural atmosphere of the community. All of the wineries are open to guests and visitors to some extent and provide a wide range of tours and tasting experiences.
While the smaller vineyards and wineries offer little more than walking tours, some of the older locations, such as Round Pond Estate, offer more luxurious tour options. The estate is an extensive home originally constructed around the vineyards, gardens and orchards of the family estate. Currently, guests can partake in numerous wine and olive oil tasting tours, ground based tours, or tours that include meal options in addition to the traditional tasting events.
As is the norm for Napa Valley, Rutherford also contains several fine dining options. Owned and operated by a master wine sommelier, Alex Italian Restaurant provides guests with pastoral ethnic dishes featuring ingredients harvested from within the valley. More traditional California fare is available at the Rutherford Grill which specializes in BBQ dishes as well as burgers prepared with traditional Napa Valley flair.
Surprisingly, the small, unincorporated town also features numerous lodging options. While these include traditional Napa Valley bed and breakfast locations and standard hotels, the highlight of the industry is the Auberge Du Soleil. The luxury resort originally opened in 1981 as a traditional French restaurant. Over time, the owners expanded their dining operation to include lodging accommodations. They also slowly added an array of spa options and relaxation amenities. Today, the Auberge offers visitors access to fully renovated rooms, unrivaled spa treatment and relaxation options, and an award winning restaurant. Executive Chef Robert Curry operates the Michelin-Starred eatery which includes the restaurant, adjoining bar and bistro, and private dining hall.