The Wedding Present That Turned Into a Vineyard When the Sullivans got hitched, they received a gift that would change the course of their family's future. BY TOURING & TASTING
Photos courtesy of Sullivan Vineyards
The Sullivan family residence on the property.
“ It all started when Jim and his wife Joanna received an arbor of grape vine cuttings as a wedding present.”
Tucked away within the tranquil confines of Rutherford on a gorgeous estate in the heart of the Napa Valley, Sullivan Vineyards is the realization of founder Jim Sullivan’s dream to create high-quality, high-end wines.
It all started when Jim and his wife Joanna received an arbor of grape vine cuttings as a wedding present. Though a seemingly simple gift, the cuttings inspired Jim to try his hand at winemaking, and as his skills grew, so did his passion for producing superior wines.
Once Jim perfected his craft, the Sullivans began searching for a suitable place to plant the seeds for both their family and their vines, and in 1972, they finally found the ideal location: Rutherford. Once a riverbed, the area boasts a varied soil that consists of everything from clay loam to sandy gravel, making it prime terrain for growing Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay varietals. Jim planted 23 acres of vines on his new property and built the estate now known as Sullivan Vineyards.
Inheriting their parents’ vision, Sean, Ross, and Kelleen have continued to ensure the quality of Sullivan wines by keeping the vineyard small and by producing a limited number of wines reflective of the estate’s soils and climate. The second-generation vintners are also dedicated to creating exceptional and welcoming experiences for those who visit the winery.
Guests are treated to seated, leisurely tastings inside the recently renovated tasting room, where they can admire a collection of contemporary artworks by Kelleen and see stunning vistas of the vineyards and surrounding countryside through the floor-to-ceiling windows. On a nice day, visitors may also savor their glasses of wine outside in the shaded courtyard and view the classic cars on display.
With its casual atmosphere and beautiful backdrop, Sullivan Vineyards offers an exquisite environment for those seeking a serene and unique boutique wine experience.
What to Buy '10 Coeur de Vigne - $100
Dark berries, cassis, dark chocolate
'11 Cabernet Sauvignon - $70
Black mulberry, blueberry, black currant, cinnamon rolls, cassis, coffee bean, dark chocolate
'10 James O’Neil Cabernet Sauvignon - $135
10 James O’Neil Cabernet Sauvignon
Tastings by appointment, indoor and outdoor tastings, art gallery, boutique winery, wines from Rutherford appellation.