Frog's Leap Winery (Robert Holmes, via Robert Holmes Photography)

5 Delicious Wineries to Check Out on Rutherford Cross Road

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At the corner of Highway 29 and Rutherford Road in Napa Valley sits the notorious Rutherford Grill, famous for its French Dip sandwich and two-hour wait times. Yet few visitors venture past the intersection and down the Rutherford Cross Road, where you can spend an entire day wine tasting without ever returning to the well-traveled thoroughfares. Schedule appointments at each of these five neighborly tasting rooms, grab a late lunch at the popular La Luna Market, and then take advantage of free corkage at the Grill for dinner with any bottles you might have purchased.




Frog's Leap Winery

Unlike many of the traditionally formal tasting rooms in Wine Country, Frog's Leap doesn't take itself too seriously, evidenced by its motto, "Time's fun when you're having flies!" This playful stop has a few tasting options, but we highly recommend the Signature Seated Tasting, where you'll kick back on their shaded, wraparound porch. Enjoy looking out at the vineyards while sipping along at your own pace, and when you're down to your last glass, take it with you on a stroll through their whimsical gardens and iconic 1894 red barn. // Frog's Leap Winery, by appointment only, 8815 Conn Creek Rd. (Rutherford), frogsleap.com


(Courtesy of Elizabeth Spencer Winery)


Elizabeth Spencer

Right across the street from Rutherford Grill is a charming red brick building, once home to the original Rutherford post office. What you don't see from the road is the large courtyard, garden, and lawn used as a sunny extension of the tasting room. Elizabeth Spencer sources grapes from approximately 20 different vineyards, including some in more-distant regions such as Mendocino and the Sonoma Coast, to produce a unique and diverse collection of wines. The winery also offers some exclusive tasting experiences, like a blind tasting and a comparison of single-vineyard Cabernets from all over Napa Valley. Consider making this your final stop of the day since they're open until 6 p.m. // Elizabeth Spencer, appointment recommended, 1165 Rutherford Rd. (Rutherford), elizabethspencerwines.com


(Courtesy of Cellarpass)


Caymus Vineyards

As long as the weather cooperates, tastings at Caymus Vineyards take place at tables set up in the fern grove, redwood grove and under the intimate arbor. Cabernet is what Caymus is famous for, but they don't shy away from innovation either, even freezing and shipping grapes all the way from Argentina to create the inventive Red Schooner Malbec. Owned and operated by the Wagner family since 1972, don't be surprised if you run into one of the friendly family members during your visit. // Caymus Vineyards, appointment recommended, 8700 Conn Creek Rd. (Rutherford), caymus.com


(Courtesy of Wine Match)


Honig Vineyard and Winery

At Honig, your party will be greeted by cute chalkboard signs, personalized with your name, and placed on a quiet, isolated patio underneath the cool shade of maple-sycamore hybrid trees. We recommend booking the Eco Tour experience, consisting of a golf cart through the vineyards, learning about Honig's pioneering sustainable farming practices. Honig hones in on just two varietals, investing all of their energy into producing fantastic sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon, plus a new Pink cabernet sauvignon. You'll really dig the familial vibe here, especially when you see the display of fun, pop culture-themed staff photos: Look for the "The Honig Games" and "Cab Men." // Honig Vineyard and Winery, by appointment, 850 Rutherford Rd. (Rutherford), honigwine.com


(Courtesy of Round Pond Estate)



Round Pond Estate

At the end of a long, palm tree-lined driveway awaits Round Pond Estate with its dramatic keyhole window. The tasting room opens into a large, second-story terrace offering panoramic vineyard views of the property's 250 lush acres. Just as passionate about food as they are about wine, Round Pond incorporates farm-to- table creations and estate-made olive oils and vinegars into their array of tasting options, which include lunches, brunches and sunsets. Not to be missed is the Olive Mill tour and tasting. Round Pond has also partnered with Caymus and Honig for a joint tasting experience called the Rutherford Progressive Tasting. Offered on select Wednesdays for $220/person, the day starts with the Eco Tour and Tasting at Honig, followed by lunch and wine at Round Pond, and ends with a tasting at Caymus. // Round Pond Estate, by appointment, 875 Rutherford Rd. (Rutherford), roundpond.com

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