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Cabernet reigns supreme in the area of the Napa Valley known as “The Rutherford Bench.” And, it is said that the Rutherford Dust gives the wine its berry and spicy taste.

This warm stretch of Napa is primo tasting-room territory.  It is certainly the destination for cabernet lovers.  Rutherford is the part of the Napa Valley that gets seriously warm in the summer and the cabernets get serious about their robust flavor.   As a matter of fact, 71% of the grapes planted in the Rutherford appellation are cabernet sauvignon.

Rutherford is a huge appellation.  It spans the width of the Napa Valley, and it was home to some of the pioneering wine families in Napa.

A few of the wineries you might enjoy are Peju Province Winery. Its French provincial architecture and trees that curve over the road are like a magic gate.  Frog’s Leap Winery is one of the best in organic farming practices.  (It also has a big vegetable and organic fruit gardens.  Visitors are invited to help themselves.)  Frog’s Leap is a fun winery.  It has a lovely restored 100-year-old red barn that was home to the Adamson winery 100 years ago.

And then there is Rubicon Estate Winery.  It is part Hollywood, complete with red carpet to the door, and part history.  Francis Ford Coppola bought the estate that was then Inglenook, and put his own spin on it.  The original winery there was established in 1871 and founded by George Yount.  It was Yount’s family who planted the first Napa vines in 1838.

The land is ideal.  It took 20 years for the Coppola’s to buy bits and pieces of the original Inglenook estate.  By 1994 the original winery was one tract again.  During this time, the winery created a powerful Bordeaux blend called Rubicon.

While in the Rutherford area, stop by Mumm, Napa Valley.  Sitting on the Silverado Trail, their redwood building is low key.  (Mumm owns more than 50 vineyards in the Napa Valley.)  Relax on their terrace overlooking the Rutherford appellation.  What better way to enjoy the generous bounty of life than watching the sun set over the hills with a glass of sparkling champagne?