If you are heading up to the popular Hess Collection Winery on Mt. Veeder, I have a recommendation. Before you visit Hess, take a small detour and stop in at the vineyard home of Rubissow Winery. Although Rubissow wines have been around for several years hardly anyone but a few have ever tasted Rubissow wines, and even fewer have visited their home base on Mt. Veeder. If you like adventure and something very different in the Napa Valley, schedule an appointment to view some of the most beautiful vineyards in all of Napa and taste some very exquisite wines.
The winery has been around since 1987 but in 2007 the winery’s founders George Rubissow and Tony Sargent handed off the winery to George’s son and daughter, Peter and Ariel. Both Peter and Ariel had been involved with the winery for many years but with their new ownership they have instituted a different style of Rubissow wines. Timothy Milos, who previously made wines for Clif Lede and Opus One, is now the winemaker and consults for several small high-quality wineries. New farming concepts have been implemented to the already amazing vines growing on Mt. Veeder. The wines are now polished, more intense, food-friendly, and the critics are taking notice.
We took a 45-minute walk through the Rubissow vineyards with Peter Rubissow. There are 18 acres planted, divided up into small blocks. Each block has a unique character of soil and climate. The vineyard blocks begin at 400 ft and climb to as high as 800 ft above sea level. At the 800 ft ridge we are treated to some amazing views of both the Valley and the San Pablo Bay. It is interesting how some blocks are exposed to higher temperatures during the day while others are exposed to cooling winds from the San Pablo Bay. All the vineyards are managed and treated with sustainable farming techniques.
I have not tasted many wines from Mt. Veeder to compare with the Rubissow wines, but I can say this about the Rubissow wines I tasted: These wines are elegant, ready to drink now and very food friendly. We especially liked the blend Rubissow calls Trompettes. It is mostly Cabernet Franc with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon added. The Cab Franc gives the wine that old world flavor and great aroma of earthiness.
If you do decide to venture to this lovely spot on Mt. Veeder, you will be treated to some great hospitality. Not only may you find Peter and Ariel here but also they actually have a sommelier, Autumn Berry, who works on the premises. She fixed us up a batch of delightful goodies that paired very well with all the wine we tried.
Call ahead to make an appointment to visit the Rubissow. Have them email their detailed map on how to get to this very hidden winery on Mt. Veeder. Besides the Hess Collection winery, another nearby winery to visit is Hendry Winery that is just before Redwood Road begins to climb up Mt. Veeder.
The Good: Delicious and complex wines, wonderful views, laid-back atmosphere.
The Bad: Off the beaten path and perhaps a little hard to find. No winemaking is done here, all done at a warehouse in Napa.