There’s Beaulieu . . . Caymus . . . Heitz. Some of Napa’s greatest wineries.  Most days, these are separate stops on wine tasting tours but today they’re all together in one place.  And over there, where folks are standing three-deep, is Inglenook, the host for Rutherford Ava Wine Region Napa, CA - Booker and Butler Conciergestoday’s event. We’re at “A Day in the Dust,” the annual invitation-only tasting put on by the members of the Rutherford AVA. All told there are about 40 wineries pouring a 100 wines or so. Our plan is to taste as many as we can without swallowing more than a drop. That’s our plan, anyway.

There is no better way to learn what makes a wine from Rutherford – or any other appellation – special than to taste 40 of them side-by-side.  That’s something you could never do on a Napa winery tour. Not only are all the wines from the same place, they’re from the same vintage: 2011.

Many critics have written off 2011, given how cold and wet it was but not everyone fared the same. Besides the Inglenook, which was a crowd favorite, we found several excellent wines, some from wineries we’d never heard of.  Hunnicutt, Hewitt, and Harrison Inglenook Winery Napa, CA - Booker and Butler Conciergeswere all full-bodied, fine-grained and spicy.

The power of suggestion proved hard to resist when we compared notes (later, over margaritas) and all of us claimed to have tasted the “dusty” tannins that Rutherford is famous for. Next time you find yourself on a Napa winery tour, you’ll have to see for yourself.