Rutherford Wines: A Taste of Sunny California

Rutherford5By Tania Thomas

Recently, several wine writers had a rare opportunity to taste Rutherford Wine Company wines from their extensive portfolio over an intimate dinner at the Mezzanotte Restaurant in Ottawa’s ByWard Market

Hosted by the winery’s agency, Majestic Wines Cellars, and Rutherford’s Director of Export Sales, charming Dick Wallingford.

The history of the winery starts with Napa’s Zaninovic family, the third generation Croatian immigrants, who had owned and farmed produce throughout Californian Central Valley since the 1940s.

They purchased 180 acres in the highly acclaimed Arroyo Seco area of the Salinas Valley in the early 1970s and started planting grapes. The family sold their sought-after grapes to other wineries in the area hoping that one day they would use them to make their very own wine.

In 1994, they purchased San Martin Winery and had also invested in Rutherford Ranch Winery in Napa with Van Asperen’s. Upon their retirement in the 2000, Zaninovic family become the owners of Rutherford Ranch, Round Hill and the associated brands of the Rutherford Wine Company which today includes Scott Family Estate, Predator, Lander-Jenkings Vineyards, Rhiannon and Silver Buckle.

Located on Napa Valley’s scenic Silverado Trail within the Rutherford District, the winery is committed to earth-friendly winegrowing. While practicing sustainable viticulture, the family is producing top quality grapes and crafting their world-class wines in the classic French style using Dijon Clones.

Rutherford2Over a delicious six-course dinner, the following were my favourite wine matches of the evening. Pan-seared Chilean Sea Bass came balancing on a bed of earthy porcini risotto with the Lobster Riesling Reduction.

It was beautifully matched with a fruity Morgan’s Bay Chardonnay with fresh with vibrant acidity and rich mouth-feel.

Rutherford9Bison Stuffed Fazzoletti with blackened garlic, goat cheese with Roma tomatoes followed. The dish was perfectly paired with Silver Buckle Red, chosen as a signature wine for the Calgary Stampede.

A juicy and fruit-forward blend of Syrah, Merlot and Malbec with mellow tannins and a lingering smoke-tinged finish.

Rutherford Ranch 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon worked magic with Graham Crusted Rack of Lamb with chestnut, apricot, fig and cabernet demi-glaze.

Full-bodied with well-integrated tannins, great depth and plenty of weight complimented the lamb dish perfectly.


Morgan's bay ChardRutherford Wine Company Morgan Bay Cellars Chardonnay 2012

Napa Valley is well known for top quality Chardonnays and this juicy and fruit-forward crowd-pleaser is a great example. It’s packed with aromas and flavours of ripe pears, grilled pineapple with creamy butter and vanilla notes on the lingering finish. Fresh with vibrant acidity and rich mouthfeel. Perfect companion for luscious lobster in a creamy sauce.


Silver buckle redSilver Buckle Ranchero Red 2012, Napa, California

Chosen as a signature wine of the Calgary Stampede, this is a juicy and fruit-forward blend of Syrah, Merlot and Malbec from California Central Coast. Abundant aromas and flavours of blackberries, ripe black cherries and cassis. Smooth and velvety mouthfeel with mellow tannins and a whiff of sweet vanilla and coco on a lingering smoke-tinged finish. Perfect as a patio sipper and extremely food-friendly. It would enhance any meat dish and mature cheeses.



Rutherford Reserve CabRutherford Ranch Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Full-bodied with firm tannic structure, this is a big Californian Cab with great aging potential. Deep, intense and concentrated, it’s bursting with aromas and flavours of ripe black cherries and blackberries. Matured in French oak for two years, it displays great depth and finesse with plenty of weight. It closes in a very long tobacco-toned finish. Perfectly matched with grilled or roasted lamb.



Ladner-Jenkins Cab


Lander Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon Family Estate 2013

Complex and intense Cab vinified with the fruit from selected vineyards in California’s premium appellations. Abundant aromas and flavours of ripe black cherries, plums and blueberries with subtle hints of vanilla and coco. Fleshy and generous with plenty of fruit with a solid and firm tannic backbone. Great aging potential. Rich mouthfeel, closes in a polished lingering finish. A fine choice for a rib roast.


Tania Thomas, CSWTania Thomas

Certified Specialist of Wine

As a child, Tania helped her parents pick grapes in her family’s Croatian vineyards, and then later with winemaking. As an adult, she lived abroad in London, England, Milan and Venice, Italy, and explored the food and wine cultures while traveling throughout Europe.

While living in Toronto, Tania completed studies with the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). She continued her wine education with the prestigious, internationally-recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), based in London, England. In 2007, she achieved the WSET Level 3, Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits.

In 2013, Tania was awarded with a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) designation by The Society of Wine Educators, based in Washington, DC. She is currently studying for the organization’s Certified Wine Educator designation.

Tania also offers sommelier services and tutored wine tastings, consulting and wine tastings via and is a regular columnist with as well as the wine expert for Rogers Daytime Television.

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