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Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living. - Robert Mondavi

HALL Rutherford - A Work of Art

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I have been to HALL Rutherford five times and it never ceases to impress me with its stunning beauty, timeless modern art collection, top-notch hospitality, and most breathtaking wine cave I have ever seen. While most Napa visitors are familiar with the St. Helena Hall Tasting Room located centrally along the St. Helena Highway, a visit to HALL Rutherford evokes a completely different experience. Located on the same winding road as the famed and ever-elegant, Auberge de Soleil, HALL Rutherford can be visited by appointment only and one must gain admittance through the gated entrance. The Winery and Tasting Room are located on the same property as one of the Hall Family residences, so you truly feel like a guest of the family as you are welcomed to the property.

The tour begins in the Tasting Room, which resembles a luxurious private guest house, with the exception that is loaded with world-class modern art, has a stunning outdoor patio complete with wood-fired pizza oven, and sits atop a
winery and wine cave that are

unparalleled in style and technology. Guests are welcomed at the front door with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc and invited to enjoy the art work and view from the patio. Photos of Ambassador Kathryn and Craig Hall pictured with various celebrities and dignitaries pepper the walls and an architectural model of renowned artist Frank Gehry’s new design for the Hall St. Helena Winery assure you that you are a guest of highly cultured, worldly patrons and supporters of the arts and humanity.
The boutique HALL Rutherford Winery, completed in March 2005, was custom designed by an Austrian designer with no detail spared. The unique hexagonal tanks are so beautifully crafted that they can almost be mistaken for as part of the collection of art that line the caves. Hall Rutherford harvests only a small portion of their grapes, is dedicated to making single vineyard and limited-production wines. Juice from the crush is gravity-fed into the fermentation tanks then into the art-lined caves for barrel aging.

At HALL Rutherford, art is ubiquitous - the statue of a flying couple on the patio, the glowing star mobile hanging above the tanks, the enormous butterfly out in the vineyard… But arguably the most dazzling piece of artwork on the property is the magnificent, shimmering chandelier in the Tasting Cave above the King Table. The chandelier was designed by Donald Lipski, who previously designed the chandelier at Grand Central Station, and, after being commissioned by Mr. Hall, designed this custom chandelier to resemble the root system of a grape vine. The chandelier is enhanced by 1500 glistening Swarovski crystals, paying homage to Ambassador Kathryn Hall’s Austrian Heritage.

I’m not sure if sitting down to a tasting in such a regally adorned cave has anything to do with it, but every time I taste a Hall wine, it tastes like liquid gold. Some of my favorites to try:
Kathryn Hall Cabernet: 2006: Aptly names after the Ambassador, this is a very special wine. It is dark and as smooth as silk, peppered with spice and even earthy notes of sage and mushroom.
Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2008: Crisp and full of citrus, with hints of grapefruit, lemon and pineapple. The wine also exudes stone minerality at the finish.

Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006: This wine is perfect on its own with a nice
long finish. It is powerful and full-bodied, with rich mocha and anise adding spice to the fruit-forward stone fruit flavors.

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