A Ground Breaking Innovation: Rutherford Hillside Reserve Single Vineyard Cabernet

June 3, 2021

We’re often asked which of our Single Vineyard Cabernets is our favorite, and the answer is always the same: we love them all! But our Rutherford Hillside Reserve does hold a special place in our hearts, as it was the first Single Vineyard Cabernet we produced.

It was 1994, and in Napa Valley, wines bottled exclusively from one vineyard were still somewhat rare. But John Komes recognized there was something special about a group of vines located on the slope leading up to the northwestern edge of our estate in the Rutherford appellation. He kept the wine from this block separate, and bottled less than 50 cases on its own, dubbing it the Rutherford Hillside Reserve. John’s instinct proved prescient: when our first Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet was released in 1997 the Wine Spectator awarded it 96 points.

John Komes brings in Cabernet Sauvignon destined for our Rutherford Hillside Reserve
John Komes brings in grapes from the Komes Ranch in Rutherford

 

Five Years Earlier

1994 wasn’t the first time this block was bottled on its own. Beginning in 1989, Flora Springs produced a Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the same vines. In fact, the 1991 Flora Springs Rutherford Reserve Cabernet earned 97 points and the #3 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 1994.

Library Vintage of Flora Springs Single Vineyard Wines

Flora Springs’ Rutherford Reserve was the predecessor to our Rutherford Hillside Reserve. In 1994 John added “Hillside” to the name, creating the first vineyard-designated wine from Flora Springs.

2008 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

The label has changed over the years, but our Rutherford Hillside Reserve is still grown on our estate vineyard in Rutherford.

Rutherford Dust

The Rutherford AVA is arguably one of the finest places to grow Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley, and the location of our Rutherford Hillside Reserve vineyard, on the western slopes of the AVA on what is often called the Rutherford Bench, is one of the most coveted in the appellation. Our vineyard lies on a gentle incline leading up toward the Mayacamas Mountains. Here the soils rest on a gravelly bed deposited by an old stream, providing excellent drainage. The climate, moderately warm with occasional morning fog and frequent afternoon breezes, is ideally suited to Cabernet. The combination of soil and climate results in a unique flavor profile referred to as “Rutherford Dust,” often described as powdery-soft dusty tannins with notes of fine cocoa powder.

Looking east to the Napa Valley floor from our vines on the Rutherford Bench
Looking east to the Napa Valley floor from our vines on the Rutherford Bench
New plantings for the Rutherford Hillside Reserve
New plantings for the Rutherford Hillside Reserve

 

2018: A Vintage for the Ages

2018 brought a long, steady and near-ideal growing season to Napa Valley, yielding wines of intensity, concentration and balance. Our 2018 Hillside Reserve, aged in French and American oak for 18 months, offers pure Cabernet fruit centered on currant, blackberry and black cherry, with ancillary notes of brown spice, dark chocolate and espresso. It is a complex, full-bodied wine that finishes with ripe, chewy tannins. This is the Cabernet you bring out when you want to impress. It will age beautifully for at least another 15 years.

2018 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Our 2018 Rutherford Hillside Reserve is a showstopper

 

Your Cellar Will Thank You

The Rutherford Hillside Reserve is one of Flora Springs’ most age worthy Cabernets, a wine that will provide enjoyment for ten, fifteen or even twenty years when properly cellared. Each year we make a certain amount of the previous and/or older vintages available on a limited basis. Be sure to check the store on our website for these periodic library releases.

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