Hall Rutherford Winery

Hall Rutherford Winery

Since first working in her family’s Mendocino vineyards, Kathryn Hall dreamed of a place to showcase fine wines alongside expressive art and masterful architecture. Now, Kathryn and Craig Hall are creating an unrivaled destination in the Napa Valley—where winemaking excellence meets contemporary design to celebrate life and inspire the senses.

Hall Rutherford is Craig and Kathryn Hall’s stunning winery amid the legendary Sacrashe vineyard. State-of-the-art vision, timeless artisanship, and gracious hospitality are showcased in every luxurious detail.

Completed in March of 2005, this high-tech facility has been carefully designed for the production of small-lot red wine. Custom made three-to-six-ton fermenters afford our winemakers great flexibility and precision handling of vineyard blocks and the ability to micro-manage every aspect of the winemaking process.

Unlike the Halls’ St. Helena property, which is able to handle more significant quantities of grapes during harvest, this compact gravity-flow winery is dedicated solely to the production of rare and single vineyard red wines.

The winery’s 14,000 square feet of caves were designed and built by hand by Friedrich Gruber of Gutenstein, Austria. The caves are finished with handmade Austrian brick recovered from sites in and around Vienna and showcases select works from the Halls’ art collection. Deep inside the caves resides a dazzling reception area for private tastings and entertaining. The room’s spectacular chandelier, designed by Donald Lipski and Jonquil LeMaster, is dressed in hundreds of Swarovski crystals.

Hall’s estate vineyards encompass more than five hundred acres of classic Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. As winegrowers, the Halls have a strong respect for the environment and a commitment to cutting-edge vineyard technology to yield the highest quality grapes. Through meticulous attention to detail in the vineyards, Hall wines are able to express the unique and diverse character of Napa Valley’s soils and climate.

Kathryn Walt Hall is the proprietor of Hall Wines and has been involved in the California wine industry since her family first purchased a vineyard thirty years ago. Continuing her family tradition, she maintains a strong emotional attachment to vineyards, wine, and the wine country. She has had a distinguished career as a successful businesswoman, community activist, and most recently as the United States Ambassador to Austria. Long committed to social issues, Kathryn has served on numerous non-profit and institutional boards, addressing issues related to social care and mental health.

Craig Hall is chairman and founder of Dallas-based Hall Financial Group and along with his wife Kathryn, is creating a premier vineyard and winery company in the Napa Valley area. An avid lifelong art collector, Craig Hall’s collection includes contemporary art from former communist Central and Eastern European countries. Craig actively supports new entrepreneurs and often speaks publicly about the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship worldwide. He and his wife funded the Fulbright – Kathryn and Craig Hall Distinguished Chair for Entrepreneurship to teach entrepreneurship in Eastern Europe.

Born and raised in Napa Valley, Steve Leveque has earned a reputation for finely crafted wines that reflect the terroir and celebrate the varietal. His sixteen years of winemaking expertise started at Robert Mondavi Winery where he blossomed under the mentorship of Tim Mondavi and served as Winemaker for most of his eleven-year tenure. Steve also served as Executive Vice President and Winemaker of Chalk Hill Estate Winery in Sonoma where he hand-crafted a portfolio of small-lot Bordeaux varietals to critical acclaim. Steve's personal philosophy and professional history demonstrate the reverence for the land and devotion to excellence that Hall embraces.

Crafting fine wine requires relentless commitment. We constantly evolve time-honored methods to incorporate the most innovative processes and technology in our quest to perfect the art of winemaking. Hand-sorting of the fruit at harvest, gentle gravity-flow delivery of the grapes to each tank, small-lot production capability, and the highest quality barrels—these are just a few of the tools that our winemakers employ to create the finest wine possible.

Hall’s harvest is always in multiple stages. The blocks (sections of vines that are all planted in the same type of soil with the same vines) in each of our vineyards are rather complex. Within the same vine variety, we will strategically graft specific rootstocks (the lower portion of the root of the vine) with specific clones of a vine variety and plant them in the soil and micro-climate that we feel will result in the very best fruit. Since the soil within even a single vineyard can vary dramatically, we may have many different small blocks in each vineyard.

So many different plantings make our vineyard management much more intensive. Our many types of vines mature at different times. Certain blocks of Merlot just happen to mature early while certain blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon seem to want to hang around forever.

How do we know when to pick? Our winemaking team, led by Winemaker Steve Leveque, tastes and walks every vineyard many times, watching for flavor development. Harvest usually occurs sometime between mid-September and late October depending on the growing season. During that time of year, we sample each block of vines in each vineyard to determine if they are ready for picking. In addition to analyzing by sight, smell and taste, we check the sugar and acidity levels in our lab.

Once we determine that harvest is underway, our vineyard team hand picks the grapes, typically harvesting around 30 tons a day with the ability to nearly double that if additional hands are brought in. We transport the fruit in small bins to our crush pad as quickly as possible. The grapes are weighed, visually checked, and hand-sorted to remove imperfect fruit, leaves, and other material that might detract from the quality.

We place the sorted grapes into the destemmer, where the berries are separated from the stem. The berries then travel up an ascending conveyor belt and the grapes fall into a stainless steel fermenting tank. This gentle handling optimizes the quality of the fruit going into the tank which minimizing any bitterness that might come from the stems, seeds or skins. Once the grapes arrive in the tank, we cool the juice, skins, and seed (collectively called ‘must’) to approximately 50F and allow the juice to ‘cold soak’. During the ‘cold soak’, which typically lasts 4-5 days, we gently pump over the juice in the tank to allow extraction of the skins into the juice. We believe this extraction at the beginning of the fermentation process allows for wines with better color, and softer, richer tannins.

Once the cold soak is completed, we warm the tanks to allow yeast fermentation. During this process, yeasts convert the sugar in the juice to alcohol and carbon dioxide. At Hall, we use both natural yeasts (i.e. those that are present on the grapes from the vineyard), and pure cultured yeasts to carry out the fermentations. We believe the combination of both types of yeast fermentations provide an additional level of complexity and individuality. When Steve determines that the wine is ready, we move on to draining and pressing. The whole process, from the arrival of the grapes at the winery to the draining and pressing of the must, generally takes approximately 21 days.

The majority of the liquid in the tank at this stage is now wine, and it can easily be drained from the tank and becomes what we call ‘Free Run’. Once the Free Run is removed from the tank, we remove the skins from the tank, and press out the remaining wine from the skins. This residual wine, which amounts to approximately 10 -15% of the volume, is kept separate to determine the quality of this fraction.

Once fermentation is complete, we move the wines to small 60 gallon French Oak barrels. At this point, we may inoculate the wine with malolactic bacteria to encourage fermentation; or we may allow the malolactic fermentation to occur naturally in the wine. Malolactic fermentation is a natural process that converts malic acid (which naturally occurs in grapes) to lactic acid. This conversion reduces the acidity of the wine and makes it more stable for long term storage and aging. Typically, the malolactic fermentation is complete 4 – 8 weeks following the initial yeast fermentation.

All of our wines are aged in French Oak, with most wines typically being aged in at least 50% new French Oak barrels. We use a variety of barrel coopers and source barrels from many different oak forests in France. Each cooper has its own special technique for the production and seasoning of the barrels, and therefore each producer’s barrels have their own distinctive flavor profiles.

During the barrel aging, we will periodically rack the wines to clarify them and help them evolve. While the wine ages, solids (yeast, solids, tannins, tartrates) will fall to the bottom of the barrel. Racking involves the decanting of the clear wine off the top of the barrel, leaving the sediment and solids behind. This process happens approximately every three months, and may also include a minor amount of aeration to help evolve the fruit and soften the tannins. Our red wines stay in barrel for approximately 16 – 22 months to allow the wines to develop and graciously integrate the flavors of the oak into the wines.

The last step in the winemaking process is the bottling and labeling of the wine, which may occur as long as two years after the grapes have been harvested. Once the wine is bottled, we typically allow the wines to age for an additional 6 – 12 months in the bottle before the wines are released for consumption. This additional aging allows the wines to further develop, soften, and evolve to the delicious and complex style that is a trademark of Hall wines. Many of our wines will continue to develop and improve with additional years of cellar aging, and we hope that you will continue to enjoy them for years to come.