I was invited to experience the Appellation Exploration tasting at HALL Rutherford recently. In retrospect, it seems we visited at the perfect time of year, as the property exudes a comfortable luxury and ambiance that is complemented perfectly by the feeling and decor of the holiday season.
That being said, it’d also be great for Valentines Day, your anniversary, your engagement….
Or, if you’re like me, it was perfect for a few girlfriends who were simply looking to experience something special in Napa Valley — and that’s what we did.
The day of our visit was bright, sunny and breezy. My two girlfriends and I made our way slowly up the steep, winding road until we reached the very top of the hill.
We were at our destination, and the view was incredible.
Here, look through the window…
The winery is built into the hill, and almost all windows offer expansive views of the valley floor all the way across to the Mayacamas mountain range, which marks the western limits of Napa Valley.
Our host, Natalie, greeted us at the door and invited us inside, where two welcome pours were awaiting us, alongside a table filled with cheeses, crackers and other snacks.
While we waited for the other guests in our tour to arrive, I took the opportunity to nibble a little, try the Sauvignon Blanc, and begin what was clearly going to be a day of excessive iPhone photo shoots.
Really, there was so much worth photographing.
Walls filled with artwork collected by Kathryn Hall (one half of the HALL ownership, the other half being Craig Hall), tabletop sculptures, wines, the deck… I was snapping so many pictures that my phone scolded me for low storage.
I wish I had art like that in my home. I don’t, but a fun thing to note is that some of the artwork is featured on their wine bottles, so I could have it in my home in a mini version.
Soon the other guests arrived and Natalie lead our party of six, tastes in hand, downstairs to check out the production facility.
Art also plays a role in the production facility, as does design.
A shiny, cloud-like sculpture hangs from the ceiling at one end of the tank room, and neon ‘bursts’ hang above the doorway at the other end, casting a warm light in all directions.
The tanks themselves are sculptures as well, as they were designed and crafted for this room specifically. Unlike most tanks that are cylindrical, these tanks are octagonal and connected to one another, allowing them to fit neatly and efficiently into the curved room.
The tank room opens to the cave which, while actively storing wine, is also inviting and attractive, highlighting imported brick walls and a cozy ambiance. Check it:
Mid-way through the cave, Natalie stopped us to pull some of the 2015 Katheryn Hall directly from the barrel. Though she said it would likely need a little more time before it was ready, I personally thought it was lovely just as it was. I expect it’ll be downright stellar in a few years.
The pièce de résistance of the property is at the end of the cave, in the room where the wine and cheese pairing takes place.
“Growing” from the ceiling is the most magnificent chandelier I’ve yet seen in a winery.
It’s essentially the root system of a 100 year old vine, from which thousands of crystals are hanging — and sparkling. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
I’ll admit, it was a photo-shoot frenzy among the six of us ladies on the tour. Our host Natalie didn’t mind a bit, either. In fact, she says that the experience has time built in for all the various photo ops on the tour.
Lucky, because this shoot went on for more than a few minutes.
Eventually we looked down from the ceiling and found a long table beautifully set with glasses of wine, cheeses, chocolates and charcuterie.
The table itself was bottom lit in the center, allowing us to immediately focus on the differences in color between the wines.
So, about those wines…
HALL’s Appellation Exploration experience is just that — an opportunity to explore the same varietal, of the same vintage, but from different areas around Napa Valley. The intent of the tasting is to demonstrate how soil, climate and elevation impact wine.
In our case, we were exploring 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from St. Helena, Mt. Veeder and Rutherford.
Each wine was surprisingly different when tasted side by side. My favorite turned out to be the wine from Rutherford: The 2014 HALL Exzellenz. YUM.
Natalie let us taste through each of the wines, and later offered us a few splashes of other wines produced by HALL.
I was very happy.
Alas, our experience eventually came to and end. As they do. But overall, HALL Rutherford’s personal, luxurious winery experience was outstanding.
Incredible views, a beautiful cave, a stunning chandelier and delicious wines. Really, what else do you need in a Napa winery experience?
Not much, I say. You should go.
Ice Cube Says:
Chickity-check yo’ self
before you wreck yo’ self.