POSTED ON August 6, 2012 | IN Tasting Rooms | BY Joe Becerra

This great little family-run winery is often missed by the wine country tourists as they travel along the Silverado Trail. We hope you don’t pass it by, because there are a lot of reasons to like this wonderful winery. Owner William Harrison purchased his estate in the Rutherford AVA in the late 1970’s and sold his grapes until he decided it was high time to make his own wine. Today the winery is in its 19th vintage year.

Winemaker at William Harrison is Jim McMahon

Winemaker Jim McMahon

We visited William Harrison a couple of week ago and, as often happens with small family-run wineries, the owner or winemaker will take a stint in the tasting room. On our visit, we had the good fortune to have winemaker Jim McMahon hosting the tasting room for the day. Jim came from Luna Vineyards and became head winemaker at William Harrison in 2009.

William Harrison makes only a small amount of wine, 1800 cases, and five different varietals. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir come from contract vineyards in Carneros and the Sonoma Coast, respectively. The Bordeaux blend, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc wines are all produced from their estate Rutherford vineyards that surround the winery facility. We tried the three reds, all very delicious and extremely well made. Our favorite was the Cabernet Franc, beautifully layered with flavors and characteristics.

William Harrison winery on the Silverado Trail

Enjoy a picnic lunch at William Harrison

The tasting room atmosphere at William Harrison is relaxed and welcoming. There is no big push to join a wine club or to buy wine. The winery is also somewhat hidden, so the tasting room is usually not busy with tourists. If you are driving from the south, we suggest that you do not make a left turn into the winery from the Silverado Trail. There is no left turn lane, so it makes for a dangerous driving maneuver. Instead, drive a very short distance to Zinfandel Lane and turn left. On Zinfandel Lane you will have an opportunity to turn around and head back south to William Harrison.

For nearby wineries, check our Napa Valley wine map. You can also use our handy trip planner to find more family-owned wineries in the Napa Valley.